A granite hearth can create a beautiful finish in a home and is suitable for a variety of types of fireplaces. It is expensive, however, and must be created by a granite supplier. This type of hearth is difficult for a homeowner to install personally, and typically should be handled by a professional contractor. This can add to the expense of installing the hearth, and may require multiple installer visits to the home.
The hearth is the area that surrounds the lower portion of a fireplace. The fireplace will often be set into concrete by the home builders. This concrete may be covered with any type of material that is sturdy and non-flammable. Hearths are generally made of tile, stone, slate, brick, or granite. The flooring surrounding the hearth should be taken into consideration when choosing a new hearth, as it will need to smoothly transition from one material to another.
Granite hearths create a smooth, finished look surrounding the fireplace. This material is generally two inches (5.08 cm) thick, and may be installed so that it is level with the surrounding floor. Brick and slate usually require more depth and are often used for raised hearths.
Typically, a granite hearth must be custom-ordered as one full piece from a manufacturer. Price is generally determined by the overall size of the hearth and its thickness. Granite suppliers can commonly be found online or through a local telephone directory. Some large home improvement stores allow homeowners to order custom granite pieces through a service center. These types of stores also frequently offer installation services as well.
The granite must be cut with a high degree of precision to match a prepared template. The homeowner can prepare this template personally using durable cardboard and a utility knife, or allow the supplier to schedule a visit to measure the area. The template should fit the existing fireplace in the exact manner the future granite hearth will. Any inaccuracies in the template will prevent the hearth from fitting around the fireplace. If the hearth does not fit in the prepared place, it can be corrected by the granite supplier.
Granite can be adhered onto the future hearth location using thin set mortar. This is generally sold at home improvement stores as a dry mixture to which water must be added by the user. Thin set is typically applied using a tiling trowel. The granite hearth may then be sealed into place using any type of grout. Homeowners unfamiliar with the use of these tools may wish to have the hearth secured by a professional.
Fireplaces may be fueled with gas, electricity, or by burning wood, which is also known as a solid fuel fireplace. The type of fire burned will dictate the materials suitable to use in the hearth. A granite hearth, designed from one solid piece of stone, should only be used around a fireplace using gas or electricity. Solid fuel fireplaces may be surrounded by slabbed granite, which is assembled in sections. This type of hearth can withstand the high-intensity heat generated by burning wood.