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I am installing a hearth for a wood burner. I removed the old hearth, as well as the construction hearth. I am redoing both.

At the back of the fireplace recess I have uncovered a layer of old brick that is part of the fireplace structure. Previously it was incorporated into the construction hearth. As I already have enough thickness to the construction hearth (well over 125mm), I have the option to match the level of the old brick and incorporate it into the top surface.

Matching the level of the old brick would mean that my hearth would be slightly below the level of the floorboards (about 1cm or so). Is this a permitted approach to make a hearth?

Also, on a slightly related question, does (or can) the hearth have a slight pitch, presumably toward the back of the fireplace. If this is permitted, then I could match the level of the floor while incorporating the bricks at the back.

I live in UK.

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  • As a person that is older than a kid, I would like a wood burner to be higher than lower.
    – crip659
    Commented Oct 22, 2022 at 18:46

2 Answers 2

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It would be unusual for it to be below the floor level. Mostly because it could feel like you are tipping forward if you step onto the junction between.

Hearths were traditionally higher than the floor, but recently they have been getting lower until they are now mostly flush with the floor.

I'm not aware of a regulation regarding the exact height, but they do say that the edge of the hearth should be clearly identified (what exactly that means is open to interpretation).

Either way, I'd surmise that it would look best flush with the surrounding floor. You could also slope it back as long as it's only sloping towards non-combustible materials (i.e. you shouldn't slope it towards the wooden floor etc.).

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  • I called a local building control officer as well as a Hetas approved engineer. The answer I got is that it does not matter if the hearth is lower than floor level (we are talking a couple cm) so long as it has a border that is higher than floor level (1.2 cm is what I was quoted). The border is meant to stop the area from being carpeted. Regarding slope, you are right, there is no specification against sloping the hearth, so long as the wood burner has legs that are adjustable in height. Commented Oct 27, 2022 at 19:37
  • That's interesting, looks like lots fall foul of the regs then. I see plenty which are flush. I guess you could install a small 'half inch' timber trim around the edge of the wooden floor and then the hearth can be whatever you like 'behind' it.
    – handyman
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 15:47
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    I should have added that the HETAS engineer told me about the 1.2 cm border. The building control officer did not mention the height, so long as there is a border. Probably flush with a border would be enough. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 17:03
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There are clear regulations for wood stove installations in the UK.

You need to make sure of the local variants and build accordingly.

My parents have had 2 done and while we made sure the non-flammable surface under and around the stove was level with the floor it has to be at least 30 cm farther than any point of the hot stove, (my paraphrasing based on what the fire and chimney people checked for). Both signed off fine and in use.

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