Stone has natural beauty and durability that’s perfectly well-suited for the fireplace. From the rugged, handsome appearance of granite to the smooth, classic elegance of marble, there’s just no material more appropriate and attractive on a fireplace.
If you’re installing a stone fireplace in your home, start by choosing the right stone for your tastes. Once the fireplace is installed, knowing how to maintain it is important. In this article, we’ll cover various types of stone and give you maintenance tips so that your home’s stone can continue to dazzle you for decades to come.
Which Stone to Use?
Natural stone has a lot of personality. Each type comes in different colors and has different properties, so you can choose the best stone for your house.
Marble is a relatively soft stone that’s easy to shape. This porous rock absorbs liquids and stains easily, and often comes in relatively light colors that show ash quickly. Marble needs to be carefully maintained in order to continue looking new and clean. It can be sealed in order to resist staining, but the sealant needs to be replaced on a regular basis, or it will wear off, and the marble will begin to stain.
Marble is a stone that’s been used in homes for centuries, so if you’re seeking a material with timelessness and sophistication, marble is it. It comes in a range of colors, including gray, cream, white, green and blue.
Granite is a hard, porous rock that varies in color. It’s used on various surfaces around modern homes, including countertops, floors, back splashes and more. Granite typically comes in earthy colors like brown, red and black – although it can also be found in other shades including blue, green, white and gold.
Granite is very durable and long-lasting. It’s a much harder stone than marble, so it’s far less prone to chipping and scratching. Like marble, granite can be stained if it isn’t properly cleaned and occasionally sealed. However, with its speckled patterning and darker colors, granite can hide stains more easily than marble.
Soapstone comes in shades of dark gray, broken up by cream-colored veining. This stone is very dense and will not stain, not even with regular exposure to ashes, soot and smoke residue. Unlike many other types of natural stone, soapstone doesn’t need to be sealed in order to maintain its stain resistance. Like marble, soapstone is soft and can be scratched.
Engineered stone, also known as quartz, is a man-man product that looks and feels just like real stone. Engineered stone is made from stone dust and resin, and can be made to resemble nearly any type of natural stone. Unlike natural stone, quartz requires no sealing. It’s non-porous, so it doesn’t stain.
Like granite, quartz can be found just about anywhere in the house, from the kitchen to the bathroom. Quartz is one of the most popular stone types available, and is growing in popularity every year.
Tips on Selecting the Right Stone for Your Fireplace
If you’re having a hard time picking the right type of stone, these tips can help:
- See the stone in person. Visit a reputable stone fabricator’s showroom to view the different types of stone.
- Consider your home’s coloring and architectural style. For a timeless look, consider marble. For a modern minimal aesthetic, consider granite or quartz.
- Make a budget. Stone costs can vary. Knowing your budget will help you pick a stone for your house.
How to Maintain Your Fireplace Stone?
Clean Stone With Safe Cleansers
Most stone can be cleaned with water and a rag. Remaining stains can be cleaned with warm to hot water and a soft-bristle scrub brush. Household cleaners like dish soap can also be used, but avoid using harsh cleaners like bleach, vinegar (it’s acidic) and trisodium phosphate. Try any cleaning products on a small area before cleaning your fireplace all over. Watch for the stone to become streaked or damaged in some way.
If the cleaning product seems to work in that small area, then you can use it on other parts of the fireplace. If the stone was recently installed, it may be covered under warranty. Read the warranty to find out which cleaning products are not recommended for your product.
Remove Ashes Regularly
Cleaning out the ashes on the fireplace regularly can help prevent ashes and soot from finding their way onto the stone surrounding the fireplace. Wait until the ashes have cooled for at least 24 hours after the fire has burned out before removing them.
Before taking the ash out, sprinkle it with wet coffee grounds. This prevents the ash from billowing up when it’s removed. Never put your hands into ash, as some of it may still be hot. Instead, use fireplace tools, including an ash bucked and shovel, to remove ash from the firebox.
Sprinkle the ashes with cool water to prevent hot coals from igniting in the bucket, then set ashes outside to cool before throwing them away. Do this at least once a week.
Maintain Your Fireplace
Maintaining your fireplace is good for your house and good for your stone. Have your fireplace inspected and cleaned by a chimney sweep at least once annually, before using your fireplace for the season. Inspect and clean your fireplace even if you didn’t use your fireplace last season, as birds may have built a nest in the chimney.
Most chimney sweeps offer a free inspection with a chimney cleaning. The inspection may come back with recommendations for repair. Follow these recommendations to ensure that your chimney and firebox remain safe to use.
During the cleaning, the chimney sweep will remove deposits of creosote from the chimney’s interior. Creosote is a highly flammable, sticky substance that can coat the inside of the chimney, causing a chimney fire. Creosote builds up in the chimney over time, which is another reason to have the chimney inspected by a professional on a regular basis.
Use Well-Seasoned Wood
If your fireplace is wood burning, buy your firewood from a reputable firewood dealer that only sells well-seasoned wood. “Green” firewood produces a lot of smoke and other byproducts that can cause soot buildup around your fireplace, creating more work for you.
Get Your Fireplace Stone From a Reputable Dealer
Your fireplace is a focal point in your home, and when it’s made with natural stone, it’s also a true work of art. It’s important to work with a reputable stone fabricator to create your stone fireplace. Contact Seacoast Stone to see our selection of granite, marble, quartz and soapstone.