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Fireplaces and Hardwood Flooring: How to Protect Your Investment

Fireplaces and Hardwood Floors: Protecting Your Investment via @macwoods

Hardwood flooring looks beautiful in many homes, but, being wooden, it is also susceptible to damage. One particular concern is fireplaces that are near hardwood flooring or in contact with it; not only does this represent a potential fire hazard, but sparks and bits of burning wood can also scorch and damage your hardwood floors. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to replace your flooring if it’s near a fireplace. Here are a few tips to help you protect the investment that your hardwood floors represent.1. Purchase a Hearth Extension

1. Purchase a Hearth Extension

Hearth extensions do exactly what the name suggests: they are placed outside the fireplace and act as an extension of the hearth, specifically to protect flooring from scorching and fire damage. They are often made of slate, brick, or stone, but you can also use hearth extension pads made of other non-combustible materials. Some homeowners choose to create a raised section of the floor with a surface of brick or stone, which can work for either traditional fireplaces or wood stoves.

2. Have a Working Grate or Cover

Another essential to protect your floors from fire damage is to have some grate or another cover for all fireplaces. The type depends on the specifications of your hearth, but it should, of course, be non-flammable. Also, although it must have openings to allow smoke to filter through, they should be small enough to prevent sparks or burning wood from falling through; otherwise you risk damage to your wood floors.

3. Don’t Overuse Fireplaces

While the material used to build fireplaces is of course designed to withstand heat, overusing fireplaces or over-building fires risks damaging the structure, which could cause damage to your flooring in the long run. Don’t keep a fire going for excessive periods of time, as extreme heat can melt even metal. Overfeeding your fire is of particular concern with a wood stove, as their enclosures are often smaller.

4. Only Burn Wood

Whether you use traditional fireplaces or a wood stove, burning only wood is another way to protect your floors. Other flammable materials, such as paper and plant matter, may cause fires to burn hotter and cause damage to your hearth over time; these more frequently send out sparks or potentially hazardous scraps. And, of course, never use grease, oil, lighter fluid or other highly combustible substances to start a fire, as this can present a danger to both you and your floors.

As long as you take precautions and follow these crucial pieces of advice, it’s possible to have beautiful hardwood floors in the same room as a fireplace. Make sure that if the wooden flooring is near any fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, you have a hearth mat or other type of barrier made of non-flammable materials. In addition, always start and maintain fires responsibly, burning only wood and never leaving a fire going for excessive periods of time.