A hearth is simply an area of non-combustible material on which a wood burning stove or other heating appliance e.g. a gas fireplace sits and guards any combustible materials near the appliance from catching fire. The idea of the hearth is that if any embers, coals or other combustible materials fallout from the appliance it should be large enough to land on the hearth as opposed to the flooring or other potentially easily ignited materials. As a result, the outer perimeter of the hearth should be at a slightly different height than the flooring in order to clearly identify the safe area.
If you are considering installing a gas fireplace, or a wood or a pellet burning stove in your home, your heating appliance requires a well insulated and safe surface to sit on. This surface is referred to as the pad, which can be constructed from a number of easily accessible building materials. For example, ceramic tiles are a common material used to fireproof your heating area and often create an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
As you may have worked out, a hearth is made to guard the building from your heating appliance. The rules state that at least 18 inches of clearance must be made in all directions in the outer perimeters of the heating appliance. You can exceed this size of course, and fit the ceramic in any type of orientation, creating a wide range of different patterns to suit your interior.
The type of hearth you construct will be dependent on the type of floor underneath – combustible flooring or noncombustible. If you are installing your hearth on a combustible floor then you will need to make it at least 25 cm in thickness, although if the heating appliance doesn’t exceed temperatures over 100 degrees, then a hearth thickness of 1.2 cm in thickness can be installed.
However, if you are fitting your hearth on noncombustible flooring such as concrete, then the thickness of the hearth together with the noncombustible flooring should be 25 cm in thickness combined. If you are interested in heating appliances that require an operating hearth then check out some gas fireplace insert reviews that will provide you with an in-depth overview of the requirements.
Tiling on Non-combustible Flooring
When installing your hearth directly onto a concrete slab or concrete flooring onto which you are fitting your ceramic tiles, there are not any other factors that need to be taken into account. Simply fit your tiles onto the surface using a latex mortar for optimum performance, since the heat generated from your appliance may wear the material sooner than expected. By using latex, the heat doesn’t cause expansion and instead is absorbed by the material.
Tiling on Wood Flooring
Installing ceramic tiles on the top of the wooden flooring, such as a wood subfloor is not appropriate since the flooring will gradually start to warp and come up after a while. Even though there are thin-set mortars available for wood, it is required to use a concrete-based underlayment board of at least half an inch in size. The tiling can then be fitted onto this using a wood thin-set mortar, as well as securing the board down using nails every few inches.
There are a number of cement boards on offer that can be paired with ceramic tiles. If you plan on utilising a pad, the preferred option is to utilise a board constructed from man-made, noncombustible materials. You can then source the underlying material from a local DIY store. This should be at least half an inch, although you can add extra material if you want an extra level of safety or to make the installation more flush.
The most important factor when installing a hearth or safety pad for your heating appliance is to ensure you do it the legal way. Therefore, always ensure you are abiding by local codes and the legal requirements if you need to consult the advice of a trained professional in the field.