The Best Tiles for a Stove Hearth
Tiles made from natural stones that originate from quarries are best for stove hearths. The purer a tile is in terms of its composition, the more heat-tolerant and durable it will be to withstand the weight of the stove. Quarry tiles will often last as long — if not longer than — the stove itself. Next to natural quarried stones, certain man-made tiles and pavers are well-suited and come close to natural stones in terms of durability and heat tolerance. In fact, if cost is a concern, certain man-made tiles can even qualify as “best.” Keep in mind that whatever type of flooring you choose, you will need to install a UL-listed fire-resistant floorboard underneath.
Marble tile is as heat-tolerant as it is beautiful. The black, white and gray veining will complement the look of a wood stove and provide a durable hearth flooring surface. Despite the general belief that marble is expensive, if you limit its application to the area around the stove, it can be quite affordable.
Granite is a hard and heat-resistant natural stone that will work well under a wood stove. It is a composite stone of quartz and feldspar. It will not scratch easily and is stain-resistant, so even if you drop a log, you won’t have to worry that it will scratch or mar the hearth area. You can also seal and protect a granite hearth with an acrylic-based product to make it shine.
Slate is another natural stone that works well for hearth spaces. It has a smooth texture and comes in colors that will coordinate well with any color or type of stove, from a black cast iron potbelly model to a new modern metal stove. Slate is semiporous and made of shale and clay quartz, which give it inert qualities to resist stains. Best of all, it has a natural texture and finish that doesn’t require sealing. As with all stone materials, sweeping is about the most difficult maintenance task that slate requires.
Terrazzo tiles have the durability you want and the heat tolerance you need for a stove hearth. The tiles are composed from hardy, natural materials, including marble, granite, quartz and glass chips mixed with Portland cement, which is what makes terrazzo well-suited and among the best tile choices for a stove hearth installation. You can leave terrazzo in its natural state, or you can add a sealant to give it extra shine and make the color even more brilliant. Terrazzo is better than standard Mexican tile because it will tolerate weight better and does not crack as easily as Mexican tile.
While they are not as expensive as terrazzo and are also less costly than natural stones, ceramic tiles are also on the “best” list. They are less expensive because they are man-made and primarily composed of clay that is fired at temperatures up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The traditional red color will work well with any type of wood stove, and you can finish unglazed tiles yourself with a sealant to make them pop and shine. Ceramic tiles are sturdier than porcelain, and therefore make a better choice.
Brick and Concrete Paver Tiles
For low-cost flooring, brick and concrete paver tiles will work quite well. They are sturdy and heat-tolerant, and can easily accommodate the weight of any wood stove. In addition, you can easily install either type as a do-it-yourself project. If you don’t care for bare brick or concrete, apply stain, paint or a sealant for a more decorative look — just make sure you use a paint that is rated for high-heat applications.
Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
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