Solid fuel hearths – boundary issues

The purpose of a hearth is to provide a safe area around a combustion appliance to prevent the appliance setting fire to building fabric, furnishings and limit risk to persons in close proximity This area of a hearth’s surface separates and protects floor and room contents from radiated heat and falling embers.

Solid fuel stove boundaries

Regional building regulations guidance state that the edges of this surface should be visually apparent to provide a warning to the building occupants not to place combustible material on the hearth. This should also discourage combustible floor coverings from being installed too close to an appliance.

In what ways can the edges be marked? The most common way to mark the boundary is a change of height, such as raised or lowered area of the hearth. However, this is not always practical. BS 8303 discusses the following alternative approaches:

“As an alternative, the hearth and its boundary can be identified by using a different material or colour to the non-combustible flooring in the room where the appliance is located. In such a case the hearth is normally set into the floor or forms a part of a solid floor. This approach can be used for an appliance in a fireplace recess or free-standing.

Alternatively, a fender, fireguard or non-combustible upstand securely fixed to the floor below by, for example, screws can be used to mark the boundary of the hearth”.

OFTEC wishes to remind solid-fuel registered technicians that even in cases where the floor of a room is totally non-combustible (such as fully tiled), it will still be necessary to implement one of the methods of marking the edge of a safe zone above. Installing an appliance as shown in the picture above is not acceptable.