For such a simple metal object, a fireplace grate has an enormous impact on your traditional heating fixture. Without one, you’ll be lucky to spark even a lick of fire, let alone stoke it into a house-warming blaze.
Then there’s the matter of safety to address. We’ve all seen logs shift and roll out of the fireplace before. Well, a suitable fireplace grate is the first line of defense against a burnt carpet, or even worse, burnt skin.
I’m not going to let that happen, though, friend, to you or your lovely carpets. In order to keep my own fireplace safe, I researched grates for days, and I’m happy to share what I learned with you. These are the best five fireplace grates on the market.
Let’s not beat around the bush. You need a safe fireplace, and you need it now, so let’s jump straight into some reviews!
The welding points connecting the fuel holding bars and the base of this grate run along the diagonal rather than the flat edge of the supporting bar. That’s a sign of quality metalwork built to last.
It’s a solid steel grate, perfect for burning logs and other bits of wood. The bars are ¾ of an inch thick, so they’ll be more than capable of handling the volcanic temperatures of both soft and hardwoods.
Between 5 and 8 bars is considered the sweet spot for hyper-efficient heat radiation, so with 7, this grate has some amazing room-heating potential.
It’s 24 inches long and 11.25 inches wide, so your firebox needs to be roughly 27 inches wide and 15.25 inches deep to accommodate it. That said, it’s also available as a 21 or 30-inch grate.
A pretty deep “V” shape, it can hold plenty of fuel safely, as the steep back keeps wood supported, and the gradient of the front prevents any wayward logs from rolling out — lovely!
- 7 Bars - Warms rooms quickly.
- ¾ Inch Bars - Designed to handle frequent fires.
- Diagonal Welds - Extended service life.
- Deep “V” Shape - Safe and supportive.
- Gap Width - Not suitable for coal.
This one-piece, cast iron beauty has perfectly spaced bars, ensuring that it can accommodate both wood and coal, without the gaps being so small that it chokes the fire’s oxygen supply.
In fact, due to its 4-inch high (floor to bottom side of grate) platform, it offers tons of clearance space for oxygen to get up underneath and fuel the fire.
Weighing 28.6 lbs, it’s a veritable monster of a grate, capable of hosting regular fires without showing the signs of wear and tear you’ll see in lighter cast iron products.
It’s a shallow V shape, with equal gradients at the front and back, preventing the dreaded molten log roll. As the rear bars aren’t too steep, you can’t stack tons of fuel on at a time. Rather, it encourages you to build fires in an intelligent and economical manner.
The open-ended sides won’t stop lateral rollout, but they do allow more space to stack on larger logs, meaning you don’t have to break your back out in the yard chopping logs — hurray!
- 4-Inch Lift - Lets plenty of oxygen reach the fuel.
- Gap Width - Holds wood and coal.
- One Piece - No weak weld spots.
- Open-Ended - Accommodates larger logs.
- 28.6lbs - Heavy means quality.
- One Size - Unless you can fit a 33”+ free space, it’s not for you.
Featuring ¾ inch bars, all welded on the diagonal edge of the base, this grate is primed and ready to keep you cozy through some exceptionally long winters. Even if you’re lighting fires on the daily, these steel bars won’t lose anchorage on the base.
It may only be made up of five bars in total, but considering it measures a minuscule 18 inches across, it’s capable of radiating an insane amount of heat into a small room.
The gradient of the front and back bars is roughly the same, but the back bars travel out further, allowing you to build some pretty big fires for such a little grate. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about logs rolling out and spitting embers over your carpet.
Despite its diminutive size, it has just as much lift as larger grates, ensuring enough oxygen finds its way beneath your logs. In addition, it’s covered by a lifetime warranty, which shows Pleasant Hearth truly believes in this grate.
- ¾ Inch Bars - They can handle frequent heat.
- Full Lift - Makes lighting and keeping fires going easier.
- 18 Inches Across - Suitable for small fireplaces.
- 5 Bars - Minimum for decent heat radiation.
- “V” Shape - A steeper gradient would be nice.
Here’s an interesting grate for you. It’s made of iron, yet it resembles the steel grates on the list. Furthermore, it’s wrought iron as opposed to cast iron, which means it’s not quite as hard, but far less brittle.
If you look closely, you’ll also notice that Panacea has opted for hexagonal rather than square-shaped bars (of which there are 5). The reason being, hexagonal bars offer a more robust support structure.
Despite being the same 18 inches in length as the previous Pleasant Hearth grate, the gap widths are much larger, perfect for cradling large logs, so though your fireplace be small, you can still burn big.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can pick one of these up for less than $30, making it the best value for money option on my list!
- Hexagonal Bars - Provide a stronger support structure.
- Wrought Iron - Less brittle than cast iron.
- 18 Inches Across - Fits a small fireplace.
- Gap Width - Perfect for larger logs.
- Gap Width - Not great for smaller fuel.
What I like about this grate is that the bars narrow towards the rear, encouraging you to build the fire towards the front, ensuring you benefit the most from the heat radiation.
I’m also fond of the 5.5 inch legs providing a ton of clearance space for oxygenation. It makes lighting fires a breeze and keeps embers hot and glowing long after the logs have disintegrated.
The steel bars measure ¾ of an inch across, which is the sweet spot for a long service life, and they sit on wrought iron crossbar supports to ensure they don’t break when replacing the grate after a fireplace cleaning session.
- Wrought Iron Legs - Reduced chance of breakage on hard surfaces.
- 5.5 Inch Lift - Plenty of room for oxygen.
- Narrow Rear - Fires are built closer to the front side.
- 6 Bars - 7 would heat a room quicker.
You’d be forgiven for thinking a fireplace grate is a fireplace grate and that’s that; I know I did. But the truth is that there are lots of different kinds of fireplace grates. Some are suited to certain fuels, while others have special functions.
Don’t worry if the variety of fireplace grates is a big revelation to you. I’m going to fill you in on all the details in this brief buyer’s guide.
The first fireplace grate secret you should know is that they’re commonly made out of one of two types of metal, and these are steel and cast iron.
Steel fireplace grates are the most common of the two, and they’re awesome for burning wood, so if you’re got a bunch of logs outback, steel is definitely the right material for you.
You can generally determine the quality of a steel fireplace grate by the weld where the top bars connect to the base.
The weld should always be on the diagonal edge of the base rather than on a flat side, otherwise, the constant expansion and contraction will weaken the joints, and the grate will fall apart before the year is out.
Cast iron fireplace grates tend to feature much smaller gaps in order to hold smaller fuels such as coal, but you can still use them to burn your firewood too.
The welding isn’t such a big deal for cast iron grates, as they tend to be made up of mostly one piece. Instead, to assess their quality, you should focus on their weight. The heavier they are, the longer they’ll last.
If your grate is going to warm your cockles over the coming winter, it has to fit in your fireplace, so accurate measurements are essential.
Bear in mind that the longer a grate is, the more susceptible to sag it will be, so if you have a large fireplace, search for a grate with a central support.
It may be the skill of the welder that determines the quality of a steel fireplace grate, but ultimately, how long it lasts depends on the thickness of the bars.
That’s not to say you need to go out and buy a steel grate with the most beastly bars you can find. It just means you can assess how often you light a fire and choose a bar width accordingly.
For example, if you only light fires, say, once every couple of months when you fancy a cozy vibe in the living room, you simply won’t need a girthy grate.
Such a small amount of fires per year won’t be enough to challenge its structural integrity, so you can save some money on a grate with thinner bars. That is unless you plan on burning hardwoods such as oak and teak.
Hardwoods burn much hotter than softwoods, which is good news for you and your heating bills, but it doesn’t half put the pressure on your grate.
If you light fires semi-frequently, say, once a month, or you plan on burning hardwood, you should choose a steel grate with thicker bars.
If you’re more of a daily or weekly fire starter (twisted or otherwise), you should go as thick as possible with your bars.
You can apply the same general principles to cast iron grates, but switch out bar width for overall weight. If you save lighting fires for special occasions, you can ignore this, as a light cast iron grate should last you a lifetime.
You’ll need a moderately heavy cast iron grate if you enjoy an open fire roughly once or twice a month. Beyond that, if you want your grate to last, you should go as heavy as possible.
Number of Bars
You’d be surprised how much impact the number of bars has on the heating potential of your fireplace. I used to think it was all the fire’s doing, but in reality, as heat rises, most of the fire’s heat is lost up the chimney rather than radiated out into the room.
The bars, on the other hand, retain their heat, emitting it out from your fireplace and into your home. So, it stands to reason that the more bars a fireplace grate is made up from, the more heat it will radiate, and the more efficiently it will warm the room.
More bars may cost you more money, but as you don’t need to burn quite as much fuel, you end up saving money in the long run.
Grate heaters are a “C” shape, with metal tubes arching both underneath and above the fire. In terms of heat radiation, these are the most efficient designs on the market. Using integrated fans, hot air is flushed through the metal tubing and forced out into the room. They can be a little pricey, but you’ll save significantly on fuel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before we go our separate ways and enjoy a lovely evening by the fire, let’s bring things to a close with a brief fireplace grate FAQ section.
What is the best type of fireplace grate?
Steel fireplace grates are perfect for burning wood, but cast iron grates, with their thinner gaps, are best for coal. Grate heaters are the best type of fireplace grate for warming large spaces efficiently, as they incorporate both thermal radiation and convection to move heat.
How do I choose a fireplace grate?
To choose a fireplace grate, measure your fireplace, decide on the fuel you wish to burn, and estimate how often you’ll be lighting fires. For a more in-depth explanation, refer to my fireplace grate buyer’s guide above.
How big of a fireplace grate do I need?
How big a fireplace grate you need simply depends on the size of your fireplace. A good rule of thumb is to allow 3 inches of space between the edges of the grate and the firebox.
Can I use a fireplace without a grate?
As long as you have a fireguard of some description, you can have a go at lighting a fire without a grate, but as no air will be able to reach the fuel from beneath, it can be tricky to get going and even more difficult to keep going.
Why does my fireplace grate melt?
It kind of looks like it, but that’s not your fireplace grate melting. The damaged areas are caused by oxidation (rust) induced by the heat. As the rusted layers of the metal flake off, you’re left with thinner sections than you started out with.
What is the metal rack in a fireplace called?
The metal rack in a fireplace is known as a fireplace grate, and that’s what this article is all about!
Does a wood-burning stove need a grate?
Wood-burning stoves tend to have their own integrated grates. They’re generally flat and much smaller than fireplace grates, but they do the same fundamental job.
How do you remove rust from a fireplace grate?
All you need to remove rust from your fireplace grate is a cloth, some steel wool, and a bowl of white vinegar. Dip the cloth in vinegar and wipe at the rusted areas, then dip the wire wool in and give the rust another scrub. Keep doing this, alternating between the cloth and wire wool, and eventually, your grate will be rust free.
How do you remove a fireplace grate?
Removing a fireplace grate is the easy part. As long as it’s cool to the touch, you can just lift it on out of the fireplace. The tough part is not getting ash and carbon powder all over your carpet and furniture.
I’d suggest dumping it directly onto some plastic or cloth and wrapping it up before you try and take it any further.
That’s all from me. Thanks for sticking around till the end. Did any of these grates grab your attention? I think every one of them brings something special to hearth and home, but I find the Amagabeli Fireplace Grate particularly impressive, which is why it snagged my illustrious top spot.