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What Is The Difference Between Stone Resin & Micro Marble Back Panel &Hearth Fireplaces?

June 22, 2012

Fireplace Specialists & websites often forget how hard it is to decipher all the technical jargon regarding material choice on fire surrounds and this often leads to an immense amount of confusion. What really is the difference between stone, resin, micro marble and what does it all really mean?


1. Stone fireplaces are traditionally manufactured from natural quarried stone and are extremely hard wearing. Stone fire surrounds were typically used for solid fuel applications as the material is usually very thick and can withstand the heat output of solid fuel fires (burning wood or coal). The main disadvantage of 100% natural stone is the inability to carve it easily and the underlying cost. Stone is also very pours and hence is easier to stains than Marble or Granite. Reconstituted stone is an engineered product and is typically not suitable for solid fuel, however is much cheaper and withstand the typical heat output of conventional Gas/Electric fires. 


2. Marble Fireplaces have been a luxury choice for homeowners for many centuries and are still considered a timeless classic addition to modern and traditional homes alike. Marble is a natural material that is quarries (much like stone), and is easier to carve and work. Typically marble fire surrounds are made from 20mm thick slabs of material and hence complex designs are possible. Micro marble is a reconstituted stone that is much more stain resistant and colour consistent than natural marble. The material is typically 98% marble and 2% resin (depending on the colour selected). Essentially the material was designed to offer a colour choice that was not available in nature (colours such as pure white or consistent beige). Micro marble is non combustible and suitable for gas/electric fires. In the Victorian period, marble surrounds were combined with cast iron inserts to create what is often referred to as ‘Cast Iron Fireplaces’. The cast iron inserts (back panel section where fire is recessed) is heat resistant and can withstand high temperatures and is subsequently suitable for solid fuel fires (burning wood or coal). 


3. As a rule of thumb you must ensure that your back panel is made from non-combustible materials if you will be fitting a gas/electric fire. Electric fires are the only type of fires that do not require a non-combustible surface and hence can use a MDF panel (section where fire is recessed). Solid fuel fires require a granite, slate or stone cut and rejoined hearth (process known as Slabbing) and panel.