Your fireplace provides you with warmth and ensures that you and your family stay comfortable. You can build other enhancements around the structure to ensure that you are more comfortable, safer, and using energy wisely after installing it. When you learn how to build a hearth for an electric fireplace, you get to add beauty to your fireplace.
Once you know how to build a hearth for an electric fireplace, you will be able to enhance your home décor, and your home will appear more attractive. The important things to note should be the process for installing the hearth and the different types of hearths that are available. This way, you know precisely which kind of hearth to install for your fireplace and what materials are required for the entire setup.
In this post, you will learn:
- What a Hearth is and How it Applies to an Electric Fireplace
- The Process of Building a Hearth for an Electric Fireplace
- Materials Required to Build the Hearth
- Different Types of Hearths
- Things to Note When Building the Electric Fireplace Hearth
A fireplace hearth is the floor area within a fireplace. It is constructed of fireproof materials such as brick or stone. They are usually designed to prevent sparks from leaving the fireplace and lighting up nearby combustible substances. Hearths are available in varied thicknesses and sizes depending on the fireplace’s size and other requirements. They are supposed to be large and thick enough to prevent a fire from spreading, so careful attention needs to be paid to their design and construction process. You would need to have different tools to build a hearth for a gas fireplace compared to building the hearth for an existing electric fireplace.
For an electric fireplace, the hearth ensures that anyone close to the fireplace does not get exposed to any dangers or threats of fire. They may also be more comfortable sitting close to the fireplace without worrying about anything happening to them. The hearth maintains the spread of the heat without losing any warmth in the process. It also acts as a decoration for the electric fireplace and upgrades its appearance. Anyone that looks at a well-decorated electric fireplace will be sure to appreciate a matching hearth that completes the look.
How to build a hearth for an electric fireplace
Typically, each fireplace hearth is composed of one type of material. The most commonly found materials used include:
- Ceramic Tiles
- Quarry Tiles
Limestone is one of the most affordable materials for building a hearth. Limestone works best with gas or electric fireplaces. However, it cannot be used with a wood-burning fireplace as a wood fire is considered too intense and may crack the stone. There are also limited color options as the material is only available in gray, white, or tan shades.
Slate is available in more colors than limestone, and it works best for electric and gas fireplaces. The material can last for years and is preferred for building an electric fireplace hearth.
Marble has a higher heat resistance, can handle all kinds of fireplaces, and has a durability feature that many desire.
Soapstone is a dense rock made from high pressure and high heat. It has limited color options but does have high heat resistance.
Granite can handle wood-burning fires and is durable and affordable. It is also a commonly used hearth material available in many patterns and colors.
A ceramic hearth is strong enough to handle gas, electric, and wood-burning fireplaces. You can choose any color, pattern, or finish.
Height of the hearth
Something that you should pay attention to is the height of the hearth. Some fireplaces are located on the floor, while others have been raised for a better visual appearance. The choice comes down to your personal preference.
A flush hearth is on the floor level. The flush hearth will cost less in terms of materials needed to construct it and take up less floor space. It also provides more room for furniture but can present a hazard for kids and pets.
A raised hearth is at seat height. Raised hearths are built off the floor and allow family and friends to sit comfortably near the fire. They are also more difficult for pets and kids to access and are, therefore, much safer. Their height makes them a better point of attraction for the home but installing them is more costly. You will need more materials and space to make a hearth at sitting height.
Important hearth regulations
Your home’s safety is the foremost priority for your hearth, and you should ensure that safety rules and regulations are followed.
To start with, cover the space in front of the fireplace using a non-combustible covering. The fireplace manufacturer determines the size of the extension that is needed. If the fireplace’s opening is smaller than six square feet, the extension must extend at least 8 inches to each side and 16 inches to the opening’s front. If the opening is greater than six square feet, the extension must be at a minimum of 12 inches on the sides and 20 inches at the front. It would be best if you also had an extension that is easily distinguished from the fireplace and the rest of the floor. Following these rules and regulations will ensure that you have adhered to all the safety requirements and have a safe hearth for your fireplace.
You need to know what materials and tools you will be using when building a hearth for your fireplace. This will make your electric fireplace makeover successful and within budget. Not knowing what tools to use will make your DIY project take longer and potentially be more expensive. Your electric fireplace hearth project will require that you gather the following tools to make upgrades and remodel its front appearance.
- Circular Saw
- Plastic Mixing Tub
- Safety Glasses
Your home improvement project will also require several materials employed in the step-by-step upgrade process. This will include:
- Mortar mix
- 190 pieces of 2.5” inch thick red clay bricks
- A 2” inch metal support bar
The materials and tools should be available at your local home improvement store, but you can also research Amazon to determine which suppliers offer the best prices. The tools needed are very different from what you would expect to use with a wood-burning fireplace. This scenario works with an electric fireplace, uses light enough tools, and is easy to work with for the installation.
Measurements are also vital and ensure that the fireplace makeover is successful. This tutorial specifies some of the measurements you will need for the hearth to fit the firebox comfortably. You will need to know the fireplace measurements in square feet before remodeling to fit the hearth according to the safety regulations and manufacturer specifications. For instance, a modern farmhouse will be better off with larger measurements as its fireplace tends to be larger and occupies greater space. A shiplap fireplace surround will also need different measurements, and you should factor this in your building steps.
- The brick fireplace surround will be 76.5″ wide, 4″ deep, and 50″ tall.
- The brick fireplace hearth can be 76.5″ wide, 5.5″ tall, and 21″ deep.
- The floor to ceiling can measure 9’ feet.
Step One: Moving the electric fireplace insert
First, remove the current fireplace surround from the wall and cut the drywall open so you can raise the electric fireplace insert. With the wall open, reconstruct the fireplace insert framing 6″ higher to provide the clearance that you will use to raise the hearth by two bricks and the mortar in between. It would be best to disconnect the cables before moving the insert and reconnect once finished. Once you have installed the electric fireplace insert in a new place, you can now cover the framing using the new drywall.
This is one of the critical steps before setting up your hearth and ensuring that you have prepared everything needed for the installation. Removing the fireplace insert allows you to raise it to a level where it will still provide heat to the room’s occupants but not be hidden or buried underneath the bricks. Your fireplace insert must be positioned correctly to provide heat to the rest of the room and be easily accessible.
Step Two: Cut half-sized bricks
To create a brick pattern, you will need half-sized bricks throughout the project.. This is where the circular saw listed with the tools will be used. You will need to create a broken line across the brick’s top center to weaken it, then snap it in half by tapping on it with a hammer. The process might cost you a few bricks, but once you have gotten the hang of it, you will be able to make more halves and less waste.
Ensure that you estimate the number of bricks you will require in your project, including those at the front of the fireplace. The type of fireplace hearth will factor into this equation. Depending on the type of fireplace hearth that you intend to install in your home, ensure that you prepare a matching number of bricks. This will ensure that you have an adequate number to work with, and you will not have to get more mortar or bricks while you are in the middle of installation.
Step Three: Measure and stencil in horizontal guide lines on the wall
To simplify your brick-laying process, you should stencil horizontal lines across the wall. The marks should be at the height that each brick would need to be level from one edge to the other. The bricks are usually 2.5″ tall, and your lines can be marked as 3″ apart. This way, you get enough space for the bricks and an allowance for the mortar as you lay the bricks. After each layer, you will have lined up your bricks with the next line. You are then installing the bricks correctly without getting misaligned or breaking the pattern.
Guidelines are significant for this step in the installation process as they ensure that you can complete the installation accurately. In terms of achieving the correct visual effect, you will be able to make a visual impression on anyone that sees your fireplace hearth.
The guidelines also ensure that the rest of the installation process is well done and that you install the bricks according to your measurements.
With this in mind, you will notice that the electric fireplace hearth’s gradual appearance starts to take shape even without all the bricks installed. It will help if you take measurements as you mark out the stencils’ points as this will ensure that you have accurate measurements and that all the angles and details are taken care of.
Step Four: Mix the mortar
Once you have your guidelines carefully measured and stenciled, you will need to prepare your mortar. Mortar is often messy, and you should be very careful while mixing it. Ensure that the mortar maintains the proper consistency throughout the process and that the room you are working in has a temperature between 50 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Begin by adding half the water needed for the mortar mix into the tub, followed by the sand and cement mixture. With the help of your trowel, mix this vigorously and keep an eye out for the proper consistency. The result should be a thick yet shapeable mix similar to the wet sand that you can use to construct a sandcastle at the beach.
You can test its consistency as you are mixing the mortar by snapping the trowel gently downwards. The mortar is of the correct consistency when it stays on the trowel without sliding off. Ensuring the mortar consistency is correct is important so that the bricks lay correctly. Have some water on hand to wet your mortar if it gets dry as you are using it, and spray to maintain the mortar’s wetness.
Step Five: Brick-lay the fireplace surround
This process is very tedious and requires practice and patience. You can practice with a bit of mortar and the broken pieces of bricks before starting work on the fireplace hearth. You then be more familiar with the process and boost your confidence in handling the mortar to achieve the correct effect.
To lay your bricks, you will need to prepare the first heap of mortar on the floor. This will act as the base for the first layer and should be spread out from the center to ensure that the mortar moves to the bricks’ outer edges when being laid or arranged. Once the first layer has been set, add mortar at the top and place another layer of bricks. Be sure to push the bricks close together to ensure a tight fit and that they are securely in place. Your pattern will build as you place the bricks next to one another. You should make sure that your mortar is even and level under the bricks.
Naturally, the mortar will spread out and touch the wall, and you can also add mortar to the back of the bricks if you notice gaps. This will make your brick seem flush with the wall without a gap or space between, making it structurally sound. It will also act as a support that will hold the bricks to the wall, enhancing the appearance and making the structure firm and strong enough to hold your entertainment center, photo idea gallery, or other decorations at the top. A strong hearth holds everything together and supports the additional structures you intend to have in your electric fireplace, such as the mantel.
The bricklaying process is a crucial step to achieving this as it will ensure that you have the best home makeover and keep your result appealing to anyone who visits. Your electric fireplace is the centerpiece and focal point of the room.
Step Six: Brick over the fireplace insert opening
To brick over the fireplace insert, use the 2″-inch-wide metal support bar and place it across the top of the fireplace opening. With the help of a level, ensure it is perfectly level and put a support under the metal to hold it in place. You will use your support bar to hold the bricks at the top, and the steps will be the same as above. Lay the mortar and bricks across the fireplace insert opening. Ensure that the first layer on top of the metal support is the mortar to safely support the bricks above it when it has finally hardened.
Keep laying the bricks until you have reached your top guideline where the mantel will be installed. You can remove the metal support when the mortar has dried and set. This step is crucial and prepares a place that will hold the weight supported by the top of the fireplace. It also creates a partition that marks where the fireplace ends and where the beginning of the fireplace mantel starts. A baseboard can also support the other items that you will place across the fireplace top, and you can use wood glue to affix it in the position you like. A bit of woodworking skill may help, as installing the baseboard requires accurate measurements and attention to detail.
Step Seven: Lay the brick hearth
With the same DIY steps used above, arrange the bricks in front of the electric fireplace to create your hearth. You can opt for four bricks deep and two bricks high to create your hearth. You must also pay close attention to creating a flat level.
The number of layers of bricks will depend on whether you are creating a flush hearth or a raised hearth. A raised hearth uses additional bricks as it tends to be raised above the opening level of the fireplace. A flush fireplace hearth will use fewer bricks as it will only need to be at the same level as the fireplace’s opening.
Once this is done, allow your mortar to cure for 48 to 72 hours. The room temperature should be between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
The mortar used to lay the brick hearth should be smooth and even between the bricks. You are ensuring maximum appeal of your DIY hearth.
Step Eight: Fill in the holes and gaps with mortar
DIY projects usually end with a thorough quality check to ensure that any mistakes are corrected. There could be many places between the bricks that did not get enough mortar. However, this step does not require that you mix up more mortar. The more accessible alternative is to use a mortar tube and squeeze it into the areas requiring filing. Be sure to fill the holes, craters, and gaps as much as possible, then scrape away all the excess mortar for a clean result.
Wipe any of the excess mortar from the bricks’ edges and surfaces. Take the time to go through and remove any detail that you feel is not adding value to the fireplace hearth. Also, ensure that your measurements are in line with the regulations and safety requirements that have been set aside by the fire authority.
The final touches are the most important aspect of setting up the electric fireplace hearth as they ensure that nothing is out of place or weird-looking. It also ensures that your hearth is nicely fitted to align with the rest of the structure.
You should be able to make an impression that will have a lasting effect on anyone who views your hearth. Take your time and pay attention to the tiny details.
An electric fireplace provides warmth to any home and brings ambiance. You can upgrade a stone fireplace with a complete tutorial to guide you and make it look even more appealing. Whether in your master bedroom or your living room, the fireplace is a focal point in the home’s overall appearance. It ensures coziness is achieved, and a fireplace always works better with a hearth.
A faux brick fireplace hearth is the ultimate fireplace makeover as it enhances the look of the firebox and involves tools that are easily obtained from your local home improvement store or on Amazon.
You will find the built-in electric fireplace insert easy to work with. It has a great flame gallery, and with a few DIY tutorials, it can be made more prominent in appearance.
It may help to see how MagikFlame is built and serves to extend and enhance the MagikFlame story. By reading different MagikFlame reviews, you will be better able to decide whether or not you will need a hearth. The MagikFlame electric fireplace buying guide has all the details to guide your purchase and decision process. More information about MagikFlame and its electric fireplaces can be found here.