How to Build a Fireplace Hearth

fireplace with brick hearth
  • 10-20 hours
  • Advanced
  • 1,000-6,000
What You'll Need
Tile Cutter
2x4 Plywood or wood
Wood planks or medium-density fiberboard
Circular saw

When you have a fireplace, a hearth is useful because it protects your flooring from burns. Fireplace hearths can be raised and are great not only for function, but also for adding an element of design to your home. Building one of these hearths is simple and requires minimal materials. Using non-combustible materials, you can build one in just a few steps.

Step 1 – Understand Your Building Codes

You must first read through your local building codes to find out exactly how you should build your hearth. Different states will ask for different thicknesses of hearths. Normally, the requirements will be dictate at least 1/2 inch of non-combustible material around the fireplace.

Depending on the state you live in, you may need to apply for a license showing that the hearth has been constructed safely and matches the correct standards. This would require the hearth to be examined by a professional at your own cost.

Step 2 – Make a Plan

Once you know the code requirements, you can begin designing your hearth. Design the size of it to suit your local requirements, and then decide what type and quantity of materials are needed to build the hearth.

Using tiles is one of the easiest methods for building a hearth — and the method that this guide will use — though you should also consider using stone, granite, and other various materials. Each material has its own benefits and downfalls; for instance, a stone hearth can be difficult to clean, requiring you to use chemicals. But, it is often chosen for its rustic look.

Step 3 – Build the Platform

The platform should be constructed out of medium-density fiberboard, MDF, or plywood and nails. You can use wood, too, but it is normally more expensive.

You should construct the frame so that it matches the required building guidelines. Ensure that the platform is strong and sturdy, as if it is unstable, the tiles can crack over time.

Step 4 – Add the Cement Board

Add the cement board over the top of the frame you've just built, again keeping in mind all applicable building codes. The size of your cement board will depend on the platform dimensions you chose. Cut he board with a circular saw, ensuring that you take the correct safety precautions, including wearing safety goggles.

Step 5 – Begin Tiling

If you choose to use ceramic tiles, you can now begin installing them. You must carefully measure and cut the tiles to the correct size as specified by the size of your cement board’s dimensions. This can be tricky, and some tiles may break during cutting, so you should have a few extra tiles on hand.

Step 6 – Grout the Tiles

Finally, carefully grout the tiles. Scrape this material over the tiles and make sure it is pressed into all the joints until smooth.

Before lighting a fire and using your hearth or standing on it, allow everything to dry. Once you're finished, it's up to you if you would like to add a sealant to finish your fireplace hearth.