fireplace surrounds and decoration from stone

Opinion: what stone is suitable for fireplace decoration?


Granite is a popular choice for fireplace decoration due to its strength and durability. This natural stone can withstand heat well, making it suitable for both indoor and outdoor fireplaces. Granite can also be used to construct a barbecue stand outdoors or enhance a concrete grill stand with decoration. The likelihood of a granite fireplace cracking due to temperature changes, frost, or exposure to an open flame is very low. Granite is highly resistant to scratches and readily available at a reasonable price. However, there are also stunning patterns and colors of granite available, which may come at a higher cost than the more common and affordable options.


The second most popular natural stone chosen for a fireplace is marble. Although marble is slightly more expensive than granite and not as resistant or durable, it stands out with its classic and elegant appearance that appeals to many. A marble fireplace will be unique, and its beauty will never go out of style. The timeless classic of marble will likely never bore the homeowner. Marble also tolerates heat well, making it suitable for fireplaces fueled by gas, wood, or electricity. Marble fireplaces look very luxurious, but the surface of light-colored marble can be prone to staining. A white marble fireplace will require more maintenance than a white granite fireplace. It may need to be cleaned more frequently. Improperly maintained marble fireplace can slightly alter its color because of staining, and in rare occasions can even crack.


Travertine is often used for fireplaces as well. This stone is especially suitable for interiors aiming for restrained and understated luxury. A travertine fireplace naturally exudes warmth, coziness, and is pleasant to touch. Even at first glance, it appears warmer and cozier than a granite or marble fireplace. Travertine is indeed twice as soft as granite, and its surface temperature is always warmer. Like other natural stone products, travertine needs to be impregnated. It is advisable to seal the natural holes in travertine. Usually, travertine products come with already sealed holes from the fabricator, but slabs with open holes are also available. A properly maintained travertine fireplace will not be prone to staining. Sandstone fireplaces share similar characteristics to travertine.


Less commonly used for open fireplaces is onyx, which shares similar properties to marble. It is indeed an impressive stone for a fireplace, but onyx is even more delicate and softer than marble and less resistant to heat. Onyx is better suited for cold fireplaces, as temperature differences are not good for it. When crafting an open fire fireplace from onyx, the stone needs to be well insulated from the heat of the flames. This is not very complicated. A translucent onyx fireplace with built-in lighting look amazing. When the fireplace lighting is turned on in the dark, it will appear as if it is glowing from the fire burning inside. The entire fireplace will turn into a large night lamp with impressive onyx patterns.


Another luxurious and distinctive stone, boasting good looks and perfect for a fireplace, is quartzite. The properties of quartzite are similar to granite. Quartzite tolerates sudden temperature changes and flame heat, it is not sensitive to external impacts. A quartzite fireplace retains heat well, just like quartzite fireplace. The impressive patterns of quartzite can sometimes be translucent, so lighting can also be installed under the quartzite finish. However, even the clearest quartzite is less transparent than onyx. The price of quartzite is also impressive, so the budget for such a fireplace must be higher.


Consider a larger budget for gemstone fireplaces. It's better not to use gemstone slabs for wood-burning fireplaces, but they are perfect for decoration of cold fire fireplaces. Exotic slabs are usually about 3-4 cm thick, and depending on the type of gemstone they are made of, they can be more or less translucent. Similar to onyx, the wall of such a fireplace can be illuminated from the inside. Imagine a cozy winter evening with a crackling fire in the fireplace integrated into a warmly lit wall of blue agate, purple amethyst, or pink quartz. Each gemstone slab is a natural masterpiece, a unique work of art. A fireplace made of red jasper, green amazonite, orange tiger's eye, or petrified wood, also looks amazing, even though these stones are not translucent.


A great alternative to natural stone fireplaces is fireplaces made of artificial stone. You could say these are lazy people's fireplaces, as they are low-maintenance. Such fireplaces don't need to be impregnated, they will be easy to clean even when heavily stained, and overall, they won't require much care. Fireplaces covered with sintered stone (also known as ultra-compact surface), engineered quartz, ceramic and porcelain will be lighter than natural stone fireplaces because the slabs of artificial stone are thinner. Fireplaces clad with especially thin 3-6-10 mm thick sintered stone and ceramic sheets will look great and also save a couple of centimeters of interior space.


The hardest and most resistant artificial stone material for fireplaces, capable of withstanding extreme heat, scratching, and other mechanical impacts, is sintered stone. The softest but flexible and especially convenient in irregular, oval-shaped, or other non-standard rooms is acrylic solid surface. However, you won't be able to light a hot fire in a solid surface fireplace because it will simply... melt. But for a cold fire, you can go ahead. 


Engineered quartz can relatively be ok for fireplace decoration, but not directly in contact with the hottest points. Engineered quartz is composed of 95% natural stone particles and about 5% resins, and the latter can change colour because of the contact with extreme heat. This is especially true with light-coloured patterns. All types of artificial stone are non-porous and easy to clean. The thinness and lightness of artificial stone slabs make them easy to work with in multi-storey houses and small rooms.


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