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Choosing the Best Natural Stone Type for Your New Custom Fireplace

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A fireplace made from natural stone can be a beautiful and practical addition to any room, and having a custom stone fireplace installed by expert stonemasons will ensure that your new fireplace is truly unique. However, stone fireplaces can be made from a wide variety of natural stone types, and some stones may be more suitable for your needs than others.

If you are having a custom stone fireplace created for your home and want to make the best choice when it comes to materials, the following types of stone are all popular and practical choices. Keep the advantages and disadvantages of each of the following stones in mind as you make your decision:

Granite fireplaces

If you plan on installing a wood or coal-burning fireplace, you'll need to choose a stone with exceptional resistance to heat, as these fuels burn hotter than any other. Granite is an excellent choice for all wood or coal-burning fireplaces, and will not become cracked or discoloured, even when subjected to the intense heat of a roaring wood fire.

Granite is also an excellent option if you don't want to spend too much time on fireplace maintenance. Granite fireplaces are easy to clean, and although they require resealing periodically, under normal circumstance this is a job you will only have to do once every few years.

Unfortunately, granite fireplaces are not cheap, and custom granite fireplaces can go well into four figures. You should also bear in mind that, because granite is an excellent conductor of heat, granite fireplaces will cool down quickly once extinguished. This may not be ideal if you want a fireplace that can provide latent heat overnight.

Slate fireplaces

If you are after a traditionally styled fireplace with rustic appeal, it's hard to beat slate. This highly durable metamorphic rock can be used to create truly unique fireplaces and is available in a wide variety of colours to match any home design scheme. Slate fireplaces also tend to be cheaper than granite fireplaces, although some of the rarer colours of slate can be expensive.

However, if you choose a slate custom fireplace, it will need to be cleaned regularly if you want to avoid indelible staining caused by soot. Slate also lacks the heat resistance of granite, and should only be used with gas or electric fireplaces; intense wood or coal fires can cause slate fireplaces to crack.

Limestone fireplaces

A classic and highly popular choice, limestone fireplaces are wonderfully versatile. Limestone is available in a wide variety of colours and can be painted very easily, allowing you to create a traditionally styled fireplace for a rural cottage or a sleek, modern fireplace for an urban apartment. It is also remarkably inexpensive, and a custom limestone fireplace can be very affordable even when designed by the very best stonemasons.

However, limestone is another type of stone that can only be used safely with gas or electric fireplaces, as it is not especially heat resistant. It also becomes stained very easily and will need to be cleaned and resealed periodically to prevent permanent soot stains from forming.