How to Choose a Fireplace Grate

firelace grates

Who would have thought a fireplace grate could have so many options? With our large selection believe us when we tell you that anyone could get confused if you didn't know what you were looking for. Here we will try to answer any questions you may have as well as inform you about the different types of fireplace grates, why you should use a grate, and how to get the most out of your fireplace grate.

Why do I need a fireplace grate?

  • Better quality burn - The wood is lifted off of the floor allowing air to be pulled in from underneath the wood, your fire will be supercharged with air making it hotter and more efficient.

  • More complete burn - Burned pieces of wood fall to the fireplace floor through the spaces in the grate creating a bed of super hot coals. This allows the wood above to be burned from the bottom up so you don't need to adjust and move the wood once placed on the grate.

  • Protection of your fireplace floor - The grate keeps the real heat up off the floor protecting your concrete from the extreme heat of the fire. This will add life to your fireplace.

  • Better drafting - When you lift the fire off of the floor you do two things, lift the fire closer to the chimney and allow air to move under the fire. By doing this you not only supercharge your fire but you also help it draft smoke and fumes out the chimney instead of into your home. Sometimes a smoking fireplace can be cured by the use of a grate.

  • Less work - Most fireplace grates have a front and back that curl up. This helps to cradle your firewood to keep it in one location and also helps to continuously force the wood to the middle of the grate. Instead of having to move the wood around all the time you simply add more when needed. This can help reduce hot embers from popping out and burning your floor as well.

  • Easier to light - Using a grate allows air to get under the wood making the fire much easier to start.

  • fireplace grates

Which fireplace grate is right for me?

There are three main types of fireplace grates, steel bar used for wood, cast iron generally used for wood or coal, and grate heaters for wood which produce heat back into the home. Coal cannot be used on the steel bar grates simply because the bars are spread too far apart and the coal would fall through. Wood on the other hand can be burned on a steel grate or a cast iron grate, however they have a tendency to hold the embers on the grate blocking the air from reaching the wood. Cast iron grates tend to last longer than the average steel bar grate with the exception of very heavy steel bar grates. Grate heaters are tubular (hollow) grates that once hot will blow warm or hot air back into the home. While not quite as efficient as a fireplace insert they are about one forth the price and do a great job of pumping heat into your home.

  1. Lets start out by looking at the steel bar grate. Steel bar grates are generally separated by the thickness of the bars used for constructing the grate. The general rule of thumb is the thicker the bars the longer it will last. The main things you want to look at are how often you plan on using the fireplace and what type of wood you will be burning. Lets look at the different users: fireplace grates

  • Rare - If this will be used on a rare occasion only, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions then a lighter duty grate will do just fine.

  • Frequent - If you are burning once a month or more then a middle to high grade grate should be considered. Also consider the type of wood, hardwoods like, Maple, Oak, Beachwood, etc. burn hotter than softer woods adding stress to your grate. Thicker steel will last longer.

  • Daily - If this is you then you probably already know that you need the thickest, heaviest grate you can afford. We now offer a Lifetime Grate for those who burn all the time.


  1. Now lets take a look at the cast iron grate. Cast iron grates have small gaps on the bottom to allow your coal or wood chunks to stay on the grate longer burning more completely. The bottom line with cast iron is weight. The heavier the grate the stronger. Again you can determine what is right for you by the amount you plan on burning. fireplace grates

  • Rare - If this will be used on a rare occasion only, holidays, birthdays, and special occasions then a lighter duty grate will do just fine.

  • Frequent - If you are burning once a month or more then a middle to high grade grate should be considered.

  • Daily - If this is you then you probably already know that you need the thickest, heaviest grate you can afford.


  1. Grate heaters are another alternative that we highly recommend. While much more costly a grate heater can pay for itself quickly from the heat it produces back into the room. There are various types of these heat exchangers but the basic principle is the same.  fireplace grates

  • Hollow tubing gets hot from the fire and a fan blows heat through the hollow tubes into the room.

  • Some are thermostatically controlled so the fan turns on and off automatically once the tubing gets hot.

  • Expect to Get 10,000 to 40,000 BTU's of heat back into your home from these units which is enough to heat a large room and other parts of the home.


How can I make my fireplace grate last?

The bottom line here is to start with a quality product. You can get a grate at almost any store that sells fireplace equipment these days. The problem is the construction and materials used are generally less than optimum. You will find that with these grates you are lucky if they last you a season. Once you replace one or two you go looking for something better. Below is a list of things to watch out for:

Steel Bar Grates

  • Watch for poor welds where the top bars meet the legs. The welds should be on the diagonals not on the flats. These welds are going to be the most likely places for the grate to break.

  • Thin steel bars result in short life span, generally 1/2" bars are used and for even the rare user they may not last long if you are burning hardwoods. I always suggest upgrading to at least the 5/8" grate.

  • All grates are going to rust due to heat and moisture. A good chimney cap may help to keep moisture out of the firebox. Our grates are powder coated for initial protection but after several burns this will wear down as well.

  • Last but not least the number of bars in relation to the width are important. One less bar means less heat distribution meaning more stress on the welds.

Cast Iron Grates

  • Weight, weight, weight, it's all about the weight. Weigh the grates at you local hardware store and compare it to the weight of our grates on line. The heavier the better.

  • As for design, it is really personal preference. No one style is necessarily better than the other. Be aware some cast iron grates are now being made to burn wood so watch for large gaps in the bottom if you are using it to burn coal.

See our selection of over 90 fireplace grates! Choose from a variety of steel fireplace grates and cast iron fireplace grates that are sure to make lighting fires in your fireplace a breeze and keep your fireplace operating with efficiency throughout burning sessions.