Are you looking for a fireplace grate and only ending up with more questions? Who would have thought a fireplace grate could have so many options? With our large selection believe me when I tell you that anyone could get confused if you did not know what you were looking for. I am Melissa from NorthlineExpress and today I will try to answer any questions you may have as well as inform you about why you should use a grate, the different types of fireplace grates, and how to get the most out of your fireplace grate.
How To Choose The Right Fireplace Grate
Let’s start by covering why you should use a fireplace grate. First off using a fireplace grate will make your fires easier to light and have a better quality burn. Using a fireplace grate allows air to get under the wood making the fire much easier to start. It also allows for a convenient spot to place and light your fire starters. The wood is lifted off of the floor allowing air to be pulled in from underneath the wood; your fire will be supercharged with air making it hotter and more efficient.
A fireplace grate also allows for a more complete burn with less work. Most fireplace grates have a front and back forks that curl up. This helps to cradle your firewood to keep it in one location and also helps to continuously force the wood to the middle of the grate. As the fire burns smaller burnt pieces of wood will fall through the grate to the floor of the fireplace, creating a coal bed. This also promotes your fire to burn the wood from the bottom up, meaning that you will spend less time having to adjust or move the wood around once placed on the grate.
Using a fireplace grate will also help protect your fireplace floor and add to the life of your fireplace. By keeping the real heat off of the floor of the fireplace you are protecting it from the extreme heat of the fire.
Now let’s talk about the different types of fireplace grates. There are three main types of fireplace grates, steel bar used for wood, cast iron generally used for wood or coal, and grate heaters for wood which produce heat back into the home.
Steel Bar fireplace grates are going to be the most common type of fireplace grate and are generally used for wood only. Coal cannot be used on the steel bar grates simply because the bars are spread too far apart and the coal would fall through. The general rule of thumb is the thicker the bars the longer it will last. The main things you want to look at are how often you plan on using the fireplace and what type of wood you will be burning.
Let’s look at the different users: Rare Burners use the fireplace on a rare occasion such as holidays or special occasions. For a rare burner a light duty steel grate will do just fine. Frequent burners are ones that burn in the fireplace at least once a month or more. Frequent burners should choose middle to high grade steel bar grate. Daily burners are those who are using their fireplace on a daily basis and will need the thickest heaviest grate that you can get to avoid the grate repeatedly breaking or burning out from constant use. For daily burners a grate like our Lifetime Fireplace Grates would be the best option.
Cast Iron Fireplace grates can be used for wood and coal. They have small gaps on the bottom to allow your coal or wood chunks to stay on the grate longer and allows the wood or coal to burn more completely. They can have a tendency to hold the embers on the grate blocking the air from reaching the wood. The bottom line with cast iron is weight; the heavier the grate the stronger. The best way to choose the best cast iron grate is to consider how often you burn. Rare burners could get away with a light duty grate. Frequent burners will want to choose a mid-grade or higher grate. Those who are going to burn daily in their cast iron fireplace grate will want the thickest, heaviest grate you can afford.
The final type of fireplace grate that I would like to talk about are the fireplace grate heaters. If you are using a fireplace and are a frequent burner this is definitely an alternative that we highly recommend. Grate heaters are going to cost more than a traditional fireplace grate but will pay for itself quickly from the heat it produces back into the room. With a grate heater, depending on the type, you can expect to get 10,000 – 40,000 BTUs of heat back into your home!
When choosing a fireplace grate the problem is the construction and materials used are generally less than optimal. You will find that with these grates you are lucky if they last you a season. Once you replace one or two you go looking for something better. Here are a few things to look out for when choosing a fireplace grate.
If you are considering a steel bar great watch for poor welds. Welds are going to be the most likely places for the grate to break. The welds should be on the diagonals not on the flats. Also consider the thickness of the steel bars. Generally 1/2 bars are used and for even the rare user they may not last long if you are burning hardwoods. It is usually recommended that you upgrade to at least the 5/8 bar fireplace grate.
If you are considering a cast iron grate it is all about the weight; the heavier the better. As for design, it is really personal preference. No one style is necessarily better than the other.
I hope that you have found this information helpful.