What to do..fire hearth not installed and you’re having a wood floor fitted

You’ve not installed your fire hearth yet and you’re having a wood floor fitted, what do you do? What are your options? How do you manage this for the best possible cosmetic appearance. Well, luckily you’ve found this article and it’s a common problem I’ve been dealing with for years..Read on..

If you’ve arrived here by accident and your fire hearth is already in place and you wish to know how to deal with it in this context, please click here..

There are several caveats we should get out of the way first. The order and method I’m going to explain to you in this article requires three things. Firstly, a competent and diligent wood floor installer not excluding a diy’er with a good skill level. Secondly, your flooring should be on site (Or at the least confirmed samples) including any underlay that is required for your particular wood floor covering. Finally, a competent and willing fireplace installer.

For the purposes of this article, I would like to note that the method outlined is solely aimed at any hearth that will be adhered to the sub-floor. The method is not relevant to a degree if your fire hearth merely needs somewhat loosely sitting on top of the floor without the hearth requiring adhering to the sub-floor.

The diligent wood floor installer

The person installing the wood floor should pay great attention to how level the sub-floor is, particularly around the area of the fire hearth. When I say level, I do mean level. Flat but not level will not work near as well for reasons that will be explained.

Close inspection should be made to this area and remedial work carried out to rectify unevenness (if possible) prior to the installation of the fire hearth. Levelling can be carried out afterwards, although, an approach should be clearly planned. A working knowledge of high point datums would be extremely helpful.

Flooring on-site

Off cuts of the flooring and underlay – if required – will be used as a height guide when the fire hearth is being installed. Providing the sub-floor is level, these off cuts will be placed under all four corners of the hearth as it is being bedded in place. If the sub-floor is not level and this will be rectified at a later date, then off cuts of the flooring will be placed under the hearth at the high point/s of the sub-floor, the datum point.

The fire hearth installer

The final piece in the cog. Fire hearth installers understand what we are trying to accomplish. Providing they’re instructed correctly, everything generally works fine. The fire hearth installer will not care about how level the sub-floor is. His/her priority and obligation is to make the hearth level. Both front to back and left to right. If the sub-floor isn’t level then the hearth installer must be instructed to bed the hearth from the wood off cuts placed at the high point/s.

If the sub-floor is perfectly level, then the hearth installer can use the off cuts of wood on all corners of the hearth as he/she beds the hearth on to the adhesive. These off cuts can then be left in place while the adhesive sets.

Once the hearth has set, then the off cuts can be removed and they’ll be a large gap left beneath the hearth. The new floor covering will be slid beneath this gap during the installation process, always being cautious and making sure there is adequate expansion room beneath the hearth. This may require clearing out some of the hearth adhesive so it doesn’t restrict the expansion of the floor or instructing the hearth installer to allow for this as best he/she can.  The end result with this method is a nice crisp finish where the flooring meets the hearth.

Wood floor first

Of course there’s a second method to this. That is to install the flooring itself first. This method is perfectly fine. Two aspects that should be considered here. The sub-floor must be level prior to installing the wood flooring. No retrospective work can be carried out without serious effort, and even then there may not be any guarantees. Secondly, the flooring must be cut with a view to both allow the front edge of the hearth to overlap the wood flooring and to allow the hearth to be adhered to the sub-floor. The main problem with this method is not knowing if the adhesive used to bed the hearth has spread out and is now touching the wood. This would be impossible to see, but most certainly be known when the wood floor expands and starts to fail.

This method requires a keen understanding of the consequences by the hearth installer.

Why all this effort?

Why does the sub-floor need to be level or a datum point established prior to levelling around the hearth? Well, if this isn’t done or anticipated for, once the hearth is set (level) and the flooring slid beneath it, there will be a wedge shaped unsightly gap on one side of the hearth. There is little that can be done with this retrospectively short of lifting the floor and carrying out remedial work or masking the discrepancy.

You’re are in a position of spending a decent chunk of your hard earned on a new wood floor and fire place. A little due diligence, although seemingly convoluted, will result in an outstanding, well thought out finish. In an area that will glare at you and your visitors for the duration, the method outlined here can only be summed up as effort well spent!

© Copyright 2016 Wes, All rights Reserved. Written For: Fitmywoodfloor

I am a Pergo trained professional installer of 20 years. I've been up close and personal with lots of floors and have the knobbly knees to show for it...Should you have any questions or comments please feel free to add them below. Thanks for taking the time to call by and I hope the information you've found has given you some insight!........................................................................................................................................................................“When you click on links to various merchants on this site and make a purchase, this can result in the site earning a commission. Affiliate programs and affiliations include, but are not limited to, the eBay Partner Network, amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.ca, affiliate window network.” This statement is to comply with current internet regulations regarding transparency to consumers.

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