Fireplace screen: safety and potentially very decorative
The most important function of a fireplace screen is increasing safety. On the one hand, by preventing sparks from the fire from getting into the room and on the other hand by preventing children and pets being able to get to the fire.
In addition, there are also decorative fireplace screens or summer fireplace screens. These serve only to decorate the fireplace opening, and the size of the screen for the fireplace naturally does not play a role in that.
How large a fire screen should be in order to protect your carpet, floor and pets depends on four things:
- The kind of wood you use in your fires;
- The size and/or height of your fireplace fires;
- The size of the fireplace;
- Your taste or own preferences.
Kind of wood you burn
Most old and antique fireplace screens are around 50 cm (19.7") tall, while the average fire height on andirons and grate or in a fire basket is about 10 cm (4") tall. This height of the screen for the fireplace is sufficient if well-dried (e.g. dried at least 2 years), slow-burning wood is burnt, such as beech, oak, and birch wood. Fast-burning wood types like spruce, pine, and poplar wood produce so many sparks that only a hermetic closure of the fireplace with the fire screen provides sufficient protection.
Size and height of the fireplace fire
On average, fires are burned at a height of 10 cm (4") above the hearth floor. If dry wood is burned and the fire is of average height, then a height of 50 cm (19.7") is sufficient for a fire screen. If your fire is located higher above the hearth floor, then the minimum height of the fireplace mesh screen has to be adjusted accordingly. The same applies if you make very large fires, so that the fire height ends up being higher.
Size and height of the open hearth
How wide should a fireplace screen be?
The width of a fireplace screen with a single panel should be at least 5 cm (2") larger than the breadth of the front of the fireplace. How much greater than 5 cm (2") is a matter of taste.
Fireplace screens with more than 1 panel all need at least 10 cm (4") of their maximum width in order to be able to stand independently. The functional width is thus 10 cm (4") less wide than the maximum breadth. If the fireplace mesh screen stands in the fireplace, it is not always necessary to fill the complete width of the front of the fireplace in order to catch all the sparks. It is important to properly measure what the minimum width of this screen you need is. You can measure this by copying the width of the panels on the floor with strips of paper, pieces of rope or something similar. You thus make it very visible what breadth of the firescreen will block the sparks from escaping the fireplace. You can also “play” with the needed breadth of the screen by moving the firescreen less of further into the fireplace.
With a fireplace that has a tapered hearth floor, this effect will be even stronger than with fireplaces with a rectangular hearth floor.
In the same way, you can also simulate how an open-hearth screen will go around the andirons with grate or the fire basket.
The advantage of placing the fireplace screen in the fireplace, and not in front of it, is that the open-hearth screen draws less attention, and the beauty of the fireplace remains more of a focus. In addition, placement of the spark screen in the fireplace makes the room look larger than with a placement in front of the open fireplace. This effect also applies for a fireplace screen of one panel that stands directly in front of the fireplace opening.
In different rooms, different solutions will therefore be appropriate.
How tall should a fireplace screen be?
Regardless of the height of the fireplace opening itself, a fireplace screen of 50 cm (17.9") in height is in principle sufficient when burning a quiet fire with properly dried wood that does not burn too quickly and reaches a maximum height of 10 cm (4").
Does a fire screen need to cover the entire opening of the fireplace?
With slow-burning wood (i.e. well-dried beech, oak, and birch wood) , it is thus not needed to completely close off the opening of the fireplace if the opening is higher than 50 cm (17.9"). There are even advantages to not doing that. Namely, a fireplace opening that is completely closed off by a fireplace screen allows much less heat radiation than when it is not completely closed off. The material of the fireplace screen also plays a role in that: the tighter the weave of the mesh, the less heat the screen allows through. Of course, the mesh does have to be sufficiently tightly woven to prevent sparks passing through.
However, if you use fast-burning wood types like spruce, pine, and poplar wood, your fires will produce so many sparks that only a hermetic closure of the fireplace with the fire screen provides sufficient protection.
The disadvantage of a high fireplace screen is that the fire is seen more through the fire screen than would be the case if it were lower.
Personal safety experience
It often happens these days that people find it safer to use a much taller fireplace screen even if there is no immediate reason to do so. There is in principle no reason not to do this, of course. “Better safe than sorry.”
The disadvantage is that the fire is seen more through the fireplace screen than would be the case if the fireplace screen were a bit lower.
An English fender solves this dilemma between the view of the fire and safety by moving the fireplace screen even further away from the fire (considerably in front of the fireplace), often with a metal base to catch sparks, so that the height can be a bit less and the fire is more visible.
Get a recommendation
Should you still have doubts about which fireplace screen would fit best, then you can feel free to call us (+31.653493998) or e-mail ([email protected]). With the sizes of your fireplace and a photo if possible, we can undoubtedly make a good recommendation.
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