8 Types of Stone For Fireplaces (With Photos)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Fireplaces serve both practical and aesthetic purposes, and everything comes down to materials. Homeowners gravitate towards stone fireplaces because they work with almost any interior and style. It can be tricky to navigate the world of stones, so what types of stones are best for a fireplace?

Limestone, slate, and faux stone are durable stones for gas and electric fireplaces. Granite, marble, and flagstone are resistant to extreme temperatures and cosmetic damage like scratches. River rock and soapstone are the best types of stone for fireplaces to complement a rustic home with an outdoor aesthetic.

Thermal conductivity and retention are major benefits of stone fireplaces, especially stones like granite. Follow along as we explore 8 types of stone for a fireplace.

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Types of Stone For Fireplaces

Stone is a timeless building material that elevates whatever it comprises to a naturally enticing centerpiece. A stone fireplace lasts at least 25 years on the low end and there is enough variety that it’s difficult to choose one. Let’s take a look at the different types of stone and see what is best suited for your home.

1. Granite

Granite is one of the best and most versatile types of stone for fireplaces. You can choose granite for electric, wood, and gas fireplaces, and it is highly heat-resistant. Granite slabs cost an average of $50 per square foot, and that makes granite a reasonably affordable stone.

Homeowners often leave the granite as is and enjoy the natural aesthetic, but you can add a glossy sheen for a great modern look as well. You can’t go wrong with granite and many patterns and styles can match any aesthetic.

2. Limestone

Limestone is the perfect combination of affordability, availability, and style. You cannot use limestone for wood-burning fires because it isn’t as heat-resistant as granite, but it is still durable. Limestone is perfect for electric and gas fireplaces because they don’t burn hot enough to damage a soft stone.

It doesn’t hurt that limestone is also one of the cheapest fireplace stone options. You don’t have to worry about cosmetic damage with limestone fireplaces, but you should be careful when you touch them. Limestone fireplaces are known to distribute heat unpredictably and the stones near the fire can quickly become too hot to touch.

3. Slate

Slate is a mid-range fireplace stone that has a naturally polished look and compliments any room. High-temperature fires can damage slate, however, so you can only use it with gas and electric fireplaces. Limestone and slate are similar in that they are affordable and have a variety of options, but they aren’t suitable for wood fires.

You can customize your slate fireplace or find a variety of colors such as red, black, and green that occur naturally. Homeowners often choose slate fireplaces for rooms or homes that have a modern aesthetic, but it works in rustic homes as well. Slate is generally 1” thick and is dense enough to withstand plenty of damage, as long as it doesn’t get too hot.

4. Flagstone

Flagstone provides enough variety out of one stone to make an entire list itself. You can find flagstone in dark and light tones with several different cuts and textures. It is easy to recognize flagstone because it is the iconic and classic fireplace stone, and with good reason.

Homeowners often paint flagstone to match the room or create a contrast, and paint takes to the stone quite well. That is the best way to update the classic look of flagstone and make it more modern to suit your home. There are many great options for mixed flagstone fireplaces with splashes of tan, grey, and black for a more unique style.

5. Faux Stone

Faux stone is a great option for fireplaces if you’re looking to save money without sacrificing quality. You can find a convincing faux stone that mimics limestone and granite at a fraction of the price. There are faux versions of nearly all types of natural stone, and they are generally quite durable.

Similar to limestone and slate, faux stone is generally not suitable for wood-burning fires and high temperatures. Cosmetic damage is rare, but you should only use gas and electric fireplaces to retain your faux stone fireplace’s appearance and strength. Faux stone fireplaces often look just like their natural counterpart, and they can last for 75 years.

6. River Rock

You can complement any aesthetic with a river rock fireplace. River rock creates an instant outdoor vibe inside the room, and that works with modern or rustic homes. No two river rock fireplaces look the same and that is because of the wide variety of river rock stone shapes and textures.

The contrast between the grout and the stone works to make a river rock fireplace stand out and draw attention. River rock fireplaces look vastly different based on the shape that you’re going for, but arched river rock fireplaces are classic.

7. Soapstone

Soapstone is one of the priciest stones for a fireplace, but the natural beauty, durability, and heat resistance make it worthwhile. The name comes from the fact that soapstone feels, well, soft and soapy compared to hard materials like granite and flagstone. It is pleasant to the touch and soapstone’s unique texture is one of its appeals, but it also makes it susceptible to damage.

It is common for a soapstone fireplace to take on cosmetic damage and scratches throughout the years. However, you won’t have to worry about heat damage with soapstone fireplaces, and it works with gas, electric, and wood-burning fires. Soapstone has a recognizable look suitable for the best corner fireplaces or as a large centerpiece in the room.

You can find soapstone in several shades of gray and green, and its colors are more varied than slate or limestone. Soapstone is not very thermally conductive, so it doesn’t heat up quickly which makes it safer to touch.

8. Marble

Marble fireplaces are just as gorgeous and impressive as they are expensive. Homeowners spend an average of $122 per square foot to install a marble fireplace, and it is the gold standard. The variety of marble is impressive, and you can find marble fireplaces with many patterns and textures.

You can always depend on marble fireplaces to be smooth and sleek, and that is one of its main appeals. Marble can be quite expensive because you generally have to import the materials. The durability of marble is another plus, and it isn’t quite as thick as granite often is but it is resilient to surface and heat damage.

Related Questions

Can you paint a stone fireplace?

Yes, you can paint a stone fireplace and it is common to paint flagstone in particular. You must use latex paint to paint a stone fireplace so that it will adhere to the surface of the stone. Make sure that your paint is heat resistant or else it will peel right away, especially if it is a wood-burning fireplace.

How wide should a stone fireplace be?

A stone fireplace should be at least 3 feet wide at the opening for safety and airflow. Stone fireplaces are generally 16”-30” off the floor, if not more, and can be 9 feet wide or wider. Standard residential stone fireplaces are rarely more than 48” wide.

How much do stone fireplaces cost?

The average stone fireplace costs $6,250 for materials and installation. Custom stone fireplaces made of marvel, soapstone, or granite can cost $12,000 depending on the cut and density. Homeowners get an average 90% return on investment when they sell their home with a stone fireplace.

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Summing It Up

Granite, flagstone, and marble are durable types of stone for a fireplace. Limestone, slate, and faux stone are durable, but they can crack due to high-temperature fires. Soapstone is expensive and soft to touch, but it is easy to scratch and damage.

River rock is a great choice and creates a distinctly natural look with the grout and small stones. Limestone is the best option if you want to save money, as long as it’s not for a wood-burning fireplace. Granite is the best overall type of stone for a fireplace due to its price, durability, heat resistance, and appearance.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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