Why do you need a fireplace grate or andirons?
With andirons and fireplace grates, you lift the fire off the ground. This keeps the fire in position and gives you a better draft. In addition, by improving the ventilation and combustion of the wood, you are heating a lot more efficiently. It is a centuries-old method of stoking; the first andirons were discovered thousands of years ago by the Romans.
At first, only andirons were used for burning. Later, fireplace grates as a basket emerged, particularly in England, and fireplace grates were placed on andirons, particularly in France. This kept the fire in position much better, maintained better ventilation, and allowed less burning wood to roll out of the fireplace. The grates allowed smaller wood blocks to be burned. In the past, mainly larger logs were placed on the andirons.
Over time, andirons that stood in the kitchen fireplace acquired spit hooks on the front side. These were used for grilling food. In addition, some andirons have bowls on the top in which food or gravy was heated or kept warm.
Needless to say, fireplace grates and andirons also have a decorative function. They tend to form a stunning focal point in the fireplace.
10 tips for choosing fireplace grates and andirons
1 | Choose the right height of grate and andirons for a good draft
The higher you lift the fire into the fireplace with a fireplace grate or andiron, the better the draft will be. You can use bricks and a grid or grate to see how high the fire should be minimally for a good draft. A bad draft can also have other origins. Our website does not list the height of the fire; feel free to ask us if it is relevant.
2 | Take note of the density of the bars in the grate
If you are burning smaller logs, the bars of the fireplace grate must be close enough together that the wood doesn't fall through. With larger logs, the bars can be further apart. Make sure that the bars (or holes on cast iron grates) are not so close together that this blocks the ventilation from below.
3 | Choose the width of the fireplace grate in relation to the width of the fire and of the fireplace
The width of the fireplace determines the maximum width of the fire. In addition, the personal preference for a larger fire plays a role. Therefore, adjust the width of the grate accordingly.
Read also: What size of fireplace grate do I need?
4 | Make sure the grate is not wider than the fire back
A fireback protects the back wall of the fireplace from the heat of the fire, and the cast iron fireplace back radiates the heat back into the room. So the fire will not need to be wider than the fire back. The fireplace grate should also not be wider than the fireback.
It is often nice if the fireplace grate and fireback are proportionate to each other and that, at the same time, the grate is no wider than the fireback. Andirons or fireplace grates that extend on either side of the grate can be slightly wider than the fire back.
5 | Decide if a fireplace grate is necessary when heating with logs
Traditionally, logs were placed on the andirons, and you didn't need a fireplace grate on the andirons or a fireplace grate as such. In this way, the logs received sufficient ventilation. Choosing andirons with a higher elevation at the front is essential to ensure that the logs do not roll out of the fireplace. For the same purpose, the bars of many French andirons slope downward.
6 | You don't need an ashpan; get used to a layer of ash
An ashpan often closes off the fireplace grate at the bottom so that no ventilation can be provided to the fire from below. Therefore there is -often much- less draft in the fireplace.
Without an ashpan you will always have a layer of ash under the fire. This layer of ash insulates against the cold from the floor so that heat is generated more quickly in the chimney. This results in a better draft. Therefore, never remove the entire layer of ash when cleaning the fireplace. Instead, remove just enough ash to leave a small layer. An additional advantage is that you do not have to move the (heavy) andirons or the (heavy) fireplace grate. Get used to the idea that the fireplace is no longer free of ash.
Read also: Do I need an ash pan in my fireplace?
7 | Fireplace grate or andirons with a grate are ideal for concealing the burner bed in a gas fireplace
Antique fireplace accessories, such as fireplace grates or andirons, add a lot of ambiance to the fireplace. Specifically, in a gas fireplace, they can contribute to making the gas fireplace indistinguishable from a wood-burning fireplace. This is possible by incorporating the burner bed in a fireplace grate or in a combination of andirons with a grate. In that case, pay close attention to the requirements of the burner bed and its construction before choosing the burner bed and fireplace grate. Of course, not all gas fireplace installation companies are keen on this because customization is required. However, experts for this can certainly be found.
A gas fireplace with a beautifully concealed burner bed in the fireplace grate
8 | Cooking in the fireplace with andirons or a fireplace grate
What could be more fun than cooking in your own fireplace? If you are cooking with andirons, you will need andirons with spit hooks, a spit, and a drip tray if grease comes off the food. You can thread all kinds of food on the spit and grill or cook it. You can also put a gridiron on the bottom between the andirons for grilling.
With a fireplace grate, things are different. You can install a grill in front of the fireplace grate like a fireplace grill that allows you to grill and cook. You can also use tools to hang food in the fireplace above or in front of the fireplace grate. Examples include a trammel and a hanging trivet or a chain trammel above the fireplace.
9 | Pay attention to the style of the andirons
Fireplace grates and andirons come in a variety of styles. These styles often follow the styles of the house and fireplace. It is often quite wonderful to choose fireplace grates in style. Lavishly decorated Louis XV andirons and grates will suit a Baroque fireplace, and the more simple wrought iron Gothic andirons will suit a farmhouse fireplace.
Still, this is ultimately a matter of taste and of balance. Lavishly decorated fireplace grates can give a nondescript fireplace a totally different look. The somewhat stricter Neoclassical andirons and grate can be a wonderful balance in a richly decorated fireplace. Even a modern fireplace will get a warm look and a nice atmosphere with antique fireplace grates or andirons. The most important thing is to make a conscious choice. On our website, it is possible to select fireplace grates by style.
Read also: How do I decorate my fireplace?
10 | Pay attention to the whole set of fireplace accessories in the fireplace when decorating the fireplace
Andirons or fireplace grates, when combined with a fireback, or possibly other antique fireplace accessories, can create a beautiful decorative whole that enhances the fireplace. You can also choose a whole in one style or a mix and match of styles that form a nice balance. See our blog post How do I decorate my fireplace?
In case you are decorating an unused fireplace with fireplace accessories to make it look as close to a wood-burning fireplace as possible, you don't have to follow the fire-related tips above. All shapes and sizes are then possible.
If you have any doubts about the right fireplace grate or andirons, you can always contact us by phone (+31.653493998) or by email: [email protected]. With the dimensions of the fireplace and, if necessary, a picture, we can definitely give you good advice.
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