Fireplace Materials Guide
Here’s a quick overview of fireplace materials for contemporary interior. In the section that follows, the emphasis is on the exterior finishes. The materials that can serve as an ideal basis for the construction of the fireplace are highlighted as requested by a few readers.
Stone - Given its varying characteristics due to the mineral composition, stones differ according to color, texture and hardness. Some may even vary in appearance with geographical origins. A wide variety of stones are ideally suited to the exterior of a fireplace, especially limestone, sandstone, granite, slate and marble. Limestone is rather delicate, due to its porosity but it is one of the most elegant stones for cladding, benches, and flooring depending on the owner’s needs. Sandstone must be cut into blocks to make fireplaces with a rustic touch. Slate adds a rural feel since it is often used to cover the roofs of houses in the mountains. With the advance in technology, we can even select man-made stones for building and finishing fireplaces with a robust, industrial look.
Marble - It’s traditionally used in the mouth of the fireplace and has an established synonym with luxury and sophistication. Some of the normally seen fireplace materials in classical designs are the red, brown, emerald-green, black and white marbles. Those with minimal grain are highly prized and there’re now contemporary interpretations of fireplace design, forging a new aesthetic idiom.
Wood - Though it’s flammable, it can be treated to become fireproof. It’s one of the most popular fireplace materials for exterior finishes though its use is restricted to cladding, often in the form of panels on the front of the fireplace. It’s also used for custom-made shelves and closets on the front and sides of the fireplace. For a rustic look, a wooden beam can be incorporated for use as a mantelpiece.
Brick - Due to their exceptional fireproofing properties, they’re ideal for building fire. They’re also popular as exterior cladding to create an unfinished look. There are 2 key types of bricks; man-made vs industrial. Bricks made by hand are considered to be more ‘authentic’ and are rougher and irregular. Besides classic red, they also come in other colors like brown, yellow and white. By comparison, industrial bricks are rectilinear and smooth with uniform coloring. As one of the key fireplace materials, it sits well in urban spaces, especially if the design calls for strict and streamlined look.
Metal - This can be extremely striking as a fireplace material with cast iron, stainless steel and copper as the most common types used. Cast iron is the most suitable for monolithic fireplaces, cast in a single piece. Sometimes left bare, it can also be painted in a dark color to emphasize its stark physical presence and allow the essential elements of the fireplace to stand out. Its character, free from any ornamentation, makes this kind of fireplace highly adaptable to all styles and settings. Metal can also be used for cladding the exterior or for a fire hood.
Parget - Exterior of fireplaces made from cement or bricks can be coated with plaster, which softens the contours and unifies the ensemble by endowing with an impeccable white finish. My favorites are those with bare surfaces and geometric forms in the purest of minimalist style.
Tiles - Durable and fireproof, tiles are another excellent fireplace exterior material. As part of the bespoke trend running through fashion and contemporary home interior, designers are using tiles with hand-painted designs to decorate the upper panel above the mantelpiece.
You may also want to take a look at:
Fireplace placement guide
Living room decorating guide
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