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Fireplace Grates: An Overview

Most homeowners love having a cozy fireplace in their home, and they might spend weeks deciding on the perfect size, the perfect mantel, and the perfect surround for their fireplace. What isn’t usually carefully considered, however, is the grate. Fireplace grates are essential elements to any wood-burning fireplace. In fact, a fire would hardly be possible without one!

What is a fireplace grate?

Fireplace grates are the structures within the actual fireplace or firebox that hold the logs. They sit several inches off the floor of the fireplace to allow oxygen to circulate around the logs, enabling them to burn more efficiently and provide more heat. The grates also provide stability for the logs, keeping them in place so they won’t roll out of the fireplace and start a fire on your carpet or other flooring.

A fireplace grate makes it easier to light fires in your fireplace, too, and it protects the floor of your fireplace, ensuring that it will last for years.

What are fireplace grates made of?

Fireplace grates can be made of several different materials. The strongest of all is steel. These are made of either diamond bar or flat steel, both of which are amazingly durable. In fact, some steel fireplace grates come with a lifetime warranty. If you choose a steel grate with thick bars, it will last longer than one with narrower bars.

Cast iron is another popular choice for fireplace grates. For one thing, these grates are very heavy and stable, so you won’t have to worry about their shifting positions. Also, with this type of grate, the slots between the bars are smaller, keeping the embers off the floor and allowing their access to oxygen. The heavier the cast iron grate, the longer it will last.

Stainless steel fireplace grates are tough and durable and can withstand corrosion. Because of these salient characteristics, stainless steel grates can be used either inside or in outdoor fireplaces, where they’re exposed to the elements. Grates made from stainless steel are more expensive than ones constructed of cast iron or regular steel.

Different styles of fireplace grates

Fireplace grates are available in several different styles:

Traditional grate: These are generally basket-like grates that are the same height on the front and the back.

Expandable grates: Expandable fireplace grates are much like traditional grates, except that they can be made larger by adding additional pieces.

Self-feeding grates: With this style, one side of the grate is taller than the other, and the force of gravity is used to determine the type of fire you want. When the taller side faces the front, you’ll get a bigger, longer lasting fire. When the shorter side faces the fireplace opening, the fire will burn hotter, allowing more warm air to be channeled into your home.

What size grate will you need?

For proper burning, the right size fireplace grate is integral. Measure both the width and the depth of your firebox. Your fireplace grate should be at least three inches smaller than the depth of your fireplace, and at least six inches narrower than the width of your fireplace.

If you have a fireplace of an unusual size, you might have to have a fireplace grate custom made to fit your firebox. You can also have grates made that are very ornamental, along with personalized fireplace grates that have your last name across the front in iron letters.


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Colin on March 31, 2014:

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I used a broiler pan- the kind that comes with most ovens to roast my aparasgus on the grill. Most people have one of these pans and I was able to use thinner aparasgus in the recipe.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Good to see you, as always, Deb!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Relica, you're right - it makes all the difference!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Audrey, we have an outside fireplace, and I love it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Thanks for reading, HH!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Thanks, Veronica. Always good to see you!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 28, 2010:

Glad you stopped for a read, Ictodd!

Elder DeBorrah K Ogans on February 26, 2010:

Habee, Great information as usual! A grate is really important. We have had to replace them on occasion. The fire can get rather hot! After a few seasons it can began to gradually melt the iron... Thank you Habee for sharing, Blessings!

relica from California on February 25, 2010:

It is so much easier to build a fire when you have a good grate in your fireplace. Nice hub, and I enjoyed your hub on fireplace tools as well.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on February 25, 2010:

Great information but it is going to look really silly sitting in the middle of my living room floor without a fireplace! I surely miss a fireplace. There is not one spot in our house at least upstairs to have one - maybe I should build one outside though! Hey - there's an idea. Great information. Maybe our next house (one of these centuries) I'll get a fireplace again.

Audrey Kirchner from Washington on February 25, 2010:

Great information but it is going to look really silly sitting in the middle of my living room floor without a fireplace! I surely miss a fireplace. There is not one spot in our house at least upstairs to have one - maybe I should build one outside though! Hey - there's an idea. Great information. Maybe our next house (one of these centuries) I'll get a fireplace again.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on February 24, 2010:

Very informative hub, thank you.

Veronica Allen from Georgia on February 24, 2010:

Good information habee! You are really keeping us informed.

Linda Todd from Charleston on February 24, 2010:

I know exactly what you are talking about but my husband will not clean the fireplace to use it?? He thinks fires are messy. Good hub. Thanks

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 24, 2010:

Good timing, huh, Pamela! lol

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on February 24, 2010:

Habee, Our grate needs replacing and this hub got me thinking about what I would like as a replacement. Thanks.

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