Choosing Between the Different Types of Fireplace Grates

Updated on April 9, 2019

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

Uniflame Steel Fireplace Bar Grate
Uniflame Steel Fireplace Bar Grate

The Golden Rule of Fire Grates

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 lightweight 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.

Uniflame Cast Iron Fireplace Grate
Uniflame Cast Iron Fireplace Grate

Steel vs. Cast Iron vs. Grate Heaters

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 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 grates, remember to always compare their weight and thickness of the bars. The heavier, thicker bars are always stronger than thinner, lighter versions.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2010 Strautter


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