Choosing Between the Different Types of Fireplace Grates

Updated on January 5, 2017

After knowing why we need to have a fireplace grate in our fireplaces, the next big question that assails us is which one should we buy? There are hundreds of different types, made of different materials, and in even more models. Learning which grate will meet our needs is incredibly important because using the wrong grate may end up costing us more money than we save.

The Golden Rule of Fire Grates

Uniflame Steel Fireplace Bar Grate
Uniflame Steel Fireplace Bar Grate

The heavier the grate, the more durable it is. How heavy of a grate we should buy should be determined by how often we plan on burning. For those of us who like to use a fireplace every now and then for those special occasions or birthdays, a light weight grate is fine. This probably no more than once or twice a season. If however we plan on burning more frequently, more than once a month, consider a medium grade grate. Finally for daily burners, buy the thickest, strongest grate that you can possibly afford. Furthermore if you plan on burning hardwoods such as Oak, Maple, etc, rather than softwoods, consider a thicker grate.

Steel vs Cast Iron vs Grate Heaters

Uniflame Cast Iron Fireplace Grate
Uniflame Cast Iron Fireplace Grate

Steel fireplace grates are often best used for wood. The bars of the grate are often spaced farther apart and can be impractical for coal burning fireplaces. Furthermore steel bar grates do not last as long as cast iron grates except in the heaviest varieties. They are also not as efficient as their cast iron brothers.

Cast iron grates are perfect for burning coal or wood. They often have a small gaps throughout to allow smaller pieces of wood and coal to stay on the grate burning them longer and more efficiently.


Stoll Fireplace Parts Grate Heater
Stoll Fireplace Parts Grate Heater

Finally, grate heaters are a new modern alternative for the classical fireplace grate. They are typically much more expensive, and they fulfill the same roles as traditional grates but with an added bonus. Through the grate hollow tubes heat the air inside them that is then pushed into the room. These grate heaters have allowed normal sized fireplaces to heat larger rooms and even adjacent rooms!

Fireplace grates are an important addition to your fireplace. Think about how often you plan on using your fireplace and select the weight of the grate based on that. Steel is good for wood, while cast iron can be used for coal or wood as well. If you ever need to compare to different models of a grates remember to always compare their weight and thickness of the bars. The heavier, thicker bars are always stronger than thinner, lighter versions.

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