What are the Pros and Cons of a Small Hearth?

Erin J. Hill

The pros and cons of a small hearth may depend on the individual and his or her preferences, as well as what the hearth will be used for. One of the most obvious drawbacks of having a smaller fireplace is less heat output as well as less working room if the hearth will be used for cooking. The main advantages to a small hearth are that they are less expensive to install and take up less space than their larger counterparts.

Small hearths take up less space, but may provide less heat than larger hearths.
Small hearths take up less space, but may provide less heat than larger hearths.

A small hearth may mean different things to different people. Some may consider a particular design small, while others would consider it average or even large in size. The main advantage of putting in a hearth that is smaller and more compact is that it will fit more easily in a smaller living space. Some homes simply cannot accommodate a large fireplace. A small hearth can be squeezed into a tighter area, including corners where furniture items may not fit anyway.

Another benefit of building a small hearth is that they are typically less expensive and require less time to put in. The smaller the fireplace, the fewer materials that are needed, and fewer materials mean less money being spent. While even the smallest hearth will require the installation of a chimney if it will be used for burning wood, using less tile, stone, wood, or brick can quickly lower the price of the total project.

Some drawbacks to installing a small hearth do exist. First, if the fireplace will be the sole heater for the building, a larger model will typically put out more heat than a smaller one. This is especially true for wood burning models without electrical blowers to circulate the warm air. Gas fireplaces may feature more powerful heat output in smaller models than a wood burning fireplace, although they are still usually not quite as effective as large gas hearths.

Although primarily used for heat in most areas, occasionally hearths are still used for cooking. If this is one of the uses intended for the fireplace, a small hearth may be unable to accommodate the proper cooking equipment. While less popular for this reason, a hearth is occasionally used for emergency cooking during power outages or in vacation or hunting cabins. Sometimes one may choose to cook over an open flame for fun. If the fireplace will be used for this reason or the owners would like the option to do so eventually, a hearth which can accommodate their chosen cooking supplies is recommended.

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