A fireplace grate is an essential piece of equipment for the efficient and safe use of your fireplace. Choosing a fireplace grate isn’t as simple as just picking any old grate that you think looks nice. Fireplaces grates come in different sizes, shapes, and weights. All of these features are relevant when choosing a fireplace grate that suits your specific fireplace.
When choosing the size of a fireplace grate, you need to consider how frequently you light fires. You will need to take detailed measurements of your fireplace, which we’ll explain in this article, choose a brand suitable for your fireplace, and ensure the holes in the grate suit the type of fuel you burn. Let’s take a look at how you can make sure you choose the appropriate size fireplace grate with the first attempt.
Do You Need a Grate for a Fireplace?
A fireplace grate serves several purposes, all helping you burn an efficient and safe fire. The grate fits inside the fireplace’s mouth and needs space around it, one reason the correct size is so important. The grate creates a space between the fire and the floor of the fireplace. It is also where you place your fuel, be it wood or coal, and keeps it securely in place. The space created between the floor and fireplace grate allows you to build better fires and helps prolong the life of your fireplace.
- Airflow – Good airflow is important for generating the best fire and maximizing your fuel efficiency. If you have good airflow, you will have a good oxygen supply for your fire. In turn, this allows your fire to start easier and burn hotter. Also, good airflow helps smoke, toxins, and carbon monoxide go up through your chimney and not into your home.
- Security – As a fire burns, the fuel will shift, potentially causing a dangerous situation. A fireplace grate keeps this moving fuel securely in the fireplace. It greatly reduces the risk of a hot, burning log rolling out onto your home’s floor, which is a big fire risk! Keeping wood or coal in place also means you won’t have to put yourself at risk of burns by constantly adjusting the fire.
- Protection – A fireplace grate will protect the floor of your fireplace. While fireplaces are built using sturdy materials, these materials will still break down over time from a fire’s heat. The grate will keep the fire off the floor, protecting it from the worst of the heat created by the fire.
- Efficiency – A fireplace grate allows air to circulate under and around the fire, helping it stay lit and burn hotter. It also allows small pieces of burning fuel to fall through the grate, helping burn the fire from underneath, making full use of your fuel source.
- Let it burn – A good, correctly sized fireplace grate will make managing your fire much more hassle-free. As the fire burns, the slope of the grate keeps your fuel source falling towards the middle, so there is little need to be constantly poking the fire. You just have to top up the fire with more wood or coal when necessary.
4 Steps to Measure for a Fireplace Grate
Before you choose a fireplace grate, follow these steps to get the correct measurements of your fireplace.
- Start by measuring the width of your fireplace at the front opening.
- Measure the width of the fireplace at the back. Some fireplaces are wider in the front, so you will need to take this into consideration when sizing a fireplace grate.
- Measure the depth of your fireplace, from the front opening, straight to the back. If the depth measure measurement is not a round number, such as 20-inches, then round down. For example, the depth measures 20 ¼ inches. If so, round to 20-inches.
- Subtract 6-inches from each for your measurements. For example, if your front width is 40-inches, you subtract 6 for 34-inches. The purpose of subtracting from your measurements is that you want to create space on all sides of your grate for good airflow.
- The back measurement is important, especially if you have a significant taper to your fireplace. The grate that will fit can’t be wider than your back measurement. Sometimes a tapered fireplace grate will be the most suitable shape for your fireplace.
Which Fireplace Grate is Best?
- Super heavy fireplace grate by SteelFreak. SteelFreak’s grate is made from heavy-duty steel and is slightly tapered, making it easy to fit. It comes in a selection of sizes and is made in the U.S.A. You can find this grate on Amazon or at Walmart.
- Pleasant Hearth Fireplace Grate is made from premium steel, has ¾” bars, and is coated with a heat resistant black finish. You will find this fireplace grate on Amazon and at Home Depot for a reasonable price.
- Amagabeli Fireplace Log Grate is a heavy-duty grate designed to hold logs and allows for 4-inches between it and the floor. It is a popular grate that doesn’t cost the earth to buy. You can buy this grate easily online through Amazon.
- Titan Solid Steel Fireplace Grate, heavy-duty. This fireplace grate is made to last. It suits both indoor and outdoor fireplaces. The sides of the grate are tall, allowing for extra safety. Be warned, this fireplace grate is heavy! However, many users have said they are very happy with it, and it is showing no signs of deterioration due to fire heat. The Titan is not as budget-friendly as some other choices, but if you can stretch your money it is definitely worth considering.
Which is Better Cast Iron or Steel?
Cast iron fireplace grates last longer and are more efficient than steel. Only the heaviest steel grates can compare in regards to durability. Steel fireplace grates generally are designed to hold wood and don’t suit coal since the gaps between the bars are too wide. Cast iron grates have narrower gaps and suit both wood and coal. The smaller gaps also help keep the fuel in place longer before pieces fall below the grate. This allows for longer burning and more efficiency.
More recently, a third alternative has become available. This is called a grate heater. Grate heaters look similar to traditional fireplace grates but contain hollow tubes that heat the air within. The hot air from the tubes is pushed into the room to power up your fire’s heating capabilities. While much more expensive than traditional fireplace grates, grate heaters are an excellent option for large rooms.
Where Can You Buy Fireplace Grates?
Fireplace grates are easy to buy, and you will find plenty of choices in size, weight, material, and budget. You can buy fireplace grates from Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes. You will also find fireplace grates at specialty fireplace stores and your local Tractor Supply.
Fireplace grates come in varying degrees of durability. You should expect a solid, heavy fireplace grate to last at least three to five years, even longer for the highest quality grates. Cheaper, lighter fireplace grates will only last about one year.
Good maintenance is important to prolong the life of your fireplace grate. To reduce the risk of distortion or melting, always make sure you thoroughly clean ashes out from under the grate between uses; make sure the ashes have thoroughly cooled! Also, it is best not to put a fire out with water.
Once you have determined the size fireplace grate you need, it is best to buy the highest quality grate you can afford. In the long term, this will give you the best value for your money and avoid you having to replace your grate yearly.