What is a Raised Hearth?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A raised hearth is a kind of hearth that is higher than the floor of a room in which a fireplace is located. Most fireplaces have hearths that are flush with the floor, even built into the floor. A raised hearth, however, is usually 1 to 2 feet (between 30 and 60 centimeters) above the floor. Those that are lower in height often resemble a step, whereas those that are taller are usually the height of a low bench and may even be used as such.

Proper hearth construction is crucial to maintaining the safety of wood-burning fireplaces in homes.
Proper hearth construction is crucial to maintaining the safety of wood-burning fireplaces in homes.

In order to have a raised hearth, the mouth of a fireplace must be higher in the wall than usual. It is possible to install this type of hearth in a room that currently has a fireplace that is flush with the floor. This takes a relatively high level of craftsmanship, however, and usually requires the assistance of a professional. The hearth itself may be as wide as the mantle or even a bit wider. The material that is used to make a raised hearth is often the same material that is used to make the fireplace surround.

The materials that are used to make a raised hearth are quit similar to the materials that are used to make hearths that are flush with the floor. Common materials include wood, brick, and stones such as slate and limestone. The choice of material is usually based on both aesthetic and functions. Just as every material option has certain aesthetic qualities, there are also pros and cons associated with each type of material.

Many people used a raised hearth as an area to display items such as sculptures and favorite house plants. Others use it mainly for practical purposes. In these cases, it is used as a place to hold bundles of wood and fireplace accessories.

One of the benefits of a raised hearth is that the mouth of the fireplace is slightly more distanced from the floor of the room which helps to reduce the risk of sparks and embers singing the carpet or nearby rugs. Another benefit is that, with taller raised hearths, the area can be used for extra seating. Many people purchase cushions that fit on their hearths. It is also possible to make one long cushion that runs the length of the hearth. Just be sure to remove it before lighting a fire.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for wiseGEEK, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


When we were having our house built, we looked at a lot of fireplace design ideas. We live in the country and have access to a lot of wood, so knew this is something we would use often.

We wanted something that was very practical, but pleasing to the eye too. I have a long mantel above my fireplace where I like to decorate seasonally. I also like to keep family pictures or plants up on the mantel.

I like to leave the raised hearth open. We have used this where the family sat for a picture to send out with Christmas cards and letters. There are also times when we run out of chairs to sit in, and the hearth gives us extra seating space.

This is one of my favorite spots because I am always cold in the winter and nothing warms me up faster than sitting on the hearth in front of the fireplace.


@honeybees - If you put a fireplace with a raised hearth in your living room, you will really enjoy it. On cold winter nights, there is nothing more cozy than relaxing in front of the fire.

We have a stone fireplace with a long raised hearth that is also made of stone. Even though I am always careful when opening and closing the doors, every once in awhile a spark will get outside the fireplace.

These have always landed on the stone hearth and quickly die out. If I had any kind of fabric or material there, I could see how things could get out of hand in a hurry.

I know there are different materials used when building a fireplace and hearth. We have a log cabin, and the stone fireplace hearth really fits in with the decor of the rest of the house.


I have never lived in a place that had a real fireplace. I always thought it would be very warm and relaxing to have a fireplace in my living room.

We are hoping to build a new house in a couple of years, and I have been looking at different fireplace designs. I would also love to have a fireplace in the master bedroom, but will probably just go with one in the living room.

When looking at the different designs, I do like the look of those with a raised hearth instead of one flush with the floor. I love the idea of keeping a long cushion there as that would look very inviting.

I can't imagine you would want to stay there very long after the fire is going though. It would probably get way too hot, but it would add a nice touch whenever the fireplace wasn't in use.


We have a wood burning fireplace with a raised stone hearth. When I bring in a load of wood, I like to place it on the hearth until I am ready to add it to the fire.

Our raised hearth is long enough that I have room to keep enough wood for one day, and still have room to completely open the fireplace doors.

On one end of the raised hearth I keep my fireplace tools. I use these when I clean the ashes out of the fireplace or need to adjust the logs while burning.

On the other end of the hearth, I keep newspapers I can use to help get the fire started. I really enjoy having a fireplace with a raised hearth. I think it adds a nice touch and is practical as well.


My parents and I moved into a house with a raised hearth, and I loved it. I thought it really added an elegant touch to the room.

The hearth was about six inches above the floor, and it was made of brick. It radiated outward from the fireplace in a semi-circle.

Our hearth was just for looks, though, because we installed a gas heater to use instead of the fireplace. It was a great ornamental structure, though, and I placed many of my sculptures that I did in college upon it.

On a few occasions, we have been known to put our wet or muddy shoes on the raised hearth to keep the floor from getting dirty. It is just so much easier to sweep dirt off the brick than to vacuum the carpet.

Post your comments
Forgot password?