While you can simply place the wood on the floor of the hearth on most wood-burning fireplaces, a fireplace grate can improve the fireplace’s overall appearance, performance, and safety. A fireplace log grate comprises cast-iron or steel bars with legs that elevate the logs off the floor, improving the flow of oxygen to the fire. A fireplace grate also improves the safety of a fireplace by preventing the logs from rolling out of the hearth as they burn.
Some grates have curved bars that direct unburnt logs toward the flames as the fire burns, while others consist of baskets that hold large volumes of wood. This guide examines some of the best fireplace grates on today’s market to determine which features to consider when shopping. Next, the guide offers fireplace grate reviews for some of the top models on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Amagabeli Black Wrought Iron Fireplace Log Grate
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Landmann 1/2″ Steel 18″ w/Ember Retainer Grate
- UPGRADE PICK: Grate Wall of Fire Model M-5 Fireplace Grate
- BEST FOR SMALL FIREPLACE: SteelFreak Heavy Duty 13 x 10 Inch Steel Grate
- BEST FOR LARGE FIREPLACE: HY-C Liberty Foundry G800-27-BX Fire Grate
- BEST FOR OUTDOOR FIREPLACE: Pleasant Hearth 8-Bar Steel Fireplace Grate
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fireplace Grates
Understanding the different types of fireplace grates as well as how size, shape, and material impact their performance is key when selecting the best fireplace grate. Ahead, learn about these and other important characteristics of fireplace grates.
Types of Fireplace Grates
- Bar: Bar fireplace grates use a series of parallel steel bars that cradle the logs. The bars are welded to four legs that elevate the logs a few inches off the bottom of the firebox, improving airflow to the fire. Higher-end bar fireplace grates have ember retainers attached to the bottom to catch burning embers.
- Basket: Unlike bar grates, which consist of separate pieces welded together, basket grates are typically made from a single piece of cast iron and feature four sides and narrower gaps than bar grates. They are more expensive than bar grates but are better able to hold larger volumes of wood securely.
- Vertical: Some fireplace grates have a vertical shape that holds a bundle of logs vertically, pinning them against the rear of the hearth. As the logs at the base of the grate burn, those above drop down onto the embers. This design requires virtually no tending from the user. And, since the logs are pinned to the back of the hearth, very little smoke can escape.
A fireplace grate must fit inside the firebox of the fireplace. While a grate that’s too large won’t fit, a grate that’s too small cannot hold enough logs.
Fireboxes don’t come in standard sizes, so measure the firebox of a fireplace and pay attention to the dimensions of the grate when shopping. Measure the height, width, and depth of the firebox to ensure a proper fit.
Remember to measure the width in both the front and the back, as fireplaces typically taper from the front of the firebox to the back. A fireplace log grate shouldn’t fit in the box like a glove; instead, it needs about 3 inches of clearance between it and the fireplace on all sides.
Most fireplace grates have bars that curve upward on the front and back, which serve two purposes. The curved bars contain the logs, preventing them from rolling off while also directing unburnt logs toward the burning embers in the middle of the grate. As the logs burn, gravity guides them to the middle, helping them burn more efficiently without the user having to push the logs into place with a poker. Most fireplace grates also taper from the front to the back to match the typical shape of a hearth for a better fit.
Fireplace grates consist of either steel or cast iron. Cast-iron grates are typically made from one solid piece of metal, whereas steel grates usually comprise multiple pieces of extruded square tubes welded together. Their single-piece construction makes cast-iron grates more durable, and cast iron has excellent heat retention properties. They also are considerably heavier and more expensive than steel grates. Steel grates are cheaper but won’t last as long. Some models have an enamel coating that makes them suitable for use in outdoor fireplaces and fire pits.
Legs and Bars
Structurally, fireplace grates consist of bars that cradle the logs and legs that support the bars, elevating them off the base of the hearth. Most grates consist of six or seven bars. The more bars, the better the grate can support the wood. These bars are typically curved to keep logs at the center of the grate while also preventing logs from shifting and rolling out of the hearth. Most fireplace grates have four legs to support the bars. The legs elevate the logs about 3 to 4 inches off the floor of the hearth, allowing for ventilation, which promotes a good burn.
Some fireplace grates have a steel mesh bottom that prevents smaller pieces of burning wood from falling through the grate. This design helps keep the fire together, promoting a better and hotter burn. This mesh bottom also makes the grate easier to clean by catching much of the ash the fire produces.
Tips for Buying and Using Fireplace Grates
Remember: A fireplace log grate isn’t simply about improving the aesthetics and performance of a fireplace; it’s also about safety. Fireplace grates help keep the logs and the fire contained, reducing the chances that an ember or burning log can escape the firebox. Purchase a fireplace grate that fits the firebox well. A fireplace grate should have about 3 inches of buffer on all sides.
Fireplace grates must be moved periodically to sweep up the ash that accumulates underneath. Purchase a grate that’s light enough to lift and maneuver in and out of the hearth’s firebox.
To load a fireplace grate properly, place two timbers on the grate followed by tinder and kindling. Place additional logs on top of the tinder and kindling. Don’t overload the grate, as too much wood could cause logs to roll off and into the room.
- Purchase a fireplace grate that fits the hearth.
- Make sure the fireplace grate is light enough to move for cleanup.
- Load the grate properly.
Our Top Picks
This list includes fireplace grates that are maneuverable, feature durable construction, and have thoughtful designs with models that suit a broad range of fireplace sizes.
With a simple design and durable wrought-iron construction, this Amagabeli fireplace log grate contains seven bars. Its overall dimensions are 21 inches by 12.5 inches, making it fit most hearths. It also comes in 24-inch and 30-inch options. The bars are angled to prevent the logs from rolling off while directing them to the center of the grate. The grate’s 4-inch legs provide plenty of air circulation to promote a good burn.
An enamel coating protects the bars from corrosion, making the grate suitable for outdoor use. Its 20-pound weight provides a sturdy base.
- Material: Wrought iron
- Dimensions: 21 inches by 12.5 inches
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Sturdy construction
- Angled bars direct logs to the center
- Enamel coating helps prevent rust
- Weight may make it harder to move
- Welded versus single-piece construction
This small fireplace grate from Landmann is 18 inches long and 11 inches wide. It has just four bars, but it offers some nice extras. It comes with a convenient mesh tray to hold a fire starter or kindling. Its thinner 0.5-inch steel bar construction also makes it lighter. With a total weight of just 6 pounds, this grate is easy to move for periodic ash cleanups. The logs are elevated 3.5 inches off the floor of the hearth to improve ventilation.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 18 inches by 11 inches
- Weight: 6 pounds
- Affordably priced
- Mesh rack for fire starter
- Curved bars direct logs inward
- Light weight makes it easy to move
- Smaller capacity than other fire grates
- Fewer steel bars for support
Offering a different take on the fireplace grate, this vertical fireplace grate from Grate Wall of Fire features a unique self-feeding design. The grate fits at the back of the hearth, pinning a stack of logs between it and the fireplace’s back wall. This configuration forces the logs at the top of the stack to fall down onto the flames as the logs at the bottom burn and crumble.
In addition to eliminating the need for any tending, this configuration also burns more efficiently, creating more heat and fewer unburnt pieces. Since the logs are positioned at the back of the hearth, there’s less opportunity for smoke to escape into the room. This grate doesn’t resemble a standard fireplace grate, so those who prefer a classic fireplace look may not like it.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 21 inches by 15 inches
- Weight: 30 pounds
- Creates efficient burn that produces more heat
- Vertical design self-feeds
- Keeps logs at the back of the hearth, preventing smoke from entering the room
- Doesn’t look like classic wood-burning fireplace grates
- More expensive than standard grates
Finding a grate to fit a smaller fireplace can be a challenge as most are designed for larger hearths. At just 13 inches wide and 10 inches deep, this SteelFreak grate fits smaller fireboxes and wood stoves. And, although small, it’s mighty. It consists of five 1.375-inch flat steel bars welded to two 10-inch bars that serve as the base.
With a curved shape and flat surface, the bars hold logs securely while also pushing them toward the center of the grate. The bars rest 3 inches off the ground, providing ventilation for burning logs while still remaining low enough to suit a smaller fireplace.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 13 inches by 10 inches
- Weight: 9 pounds
- Sturdy flat steel bars
- Curved shape keeps logs from rolling out
- Light weight
- Smaller size means smaller capacity
This HY-C Liberty fireplace grate has a whopping 27-inch length and 15-inch depth. Instead of welded steel bars, HY-C uses single-piece cast-iron construction, making this grate sturdy enough to handle more weight.
This basket-style grate sits on four sturdy legs that provide 4 inches of height to provide clearance for airflow. A tight webbing of bars prevents smaller pieces of the burning wood from falling through the hearth’s floor, while angled sides direct unburnt logs to the center. One of the stouter grates on the market, it’s also one of the heavier models, weighing nearly 30 pounds.
- Material: Cast iron
- Dimensions: 27 inches by 15 inches
- Weight: 29 pounds
- Sturdy single-piece cast-iron construction
- Larger capacity than other grates
- Basket-style construction holds wood securely
- One of the heavier grates on the market
- Expensive compared to other grates
Steel bars and a thick coating of paint along with a large size make this fireplace grate from Pleasant Hearth work well for outdoor fireplaces. It consists of eight 0.75-inch-thick bars coated with enamel paint that protects them from rust. At 30 inches wide and 16 inches deep, it can support a large load of logs, such as those typically found in an outdoor fireplace.
Each of the grate’s angled bars ensures the wood stays in the fireplace while also helping keep the fire going by directing logs toward the center. At 4 inches tall, it has plenty of airflow to promote a good burn.
- Material: Steel
- Dimensions: 30 inches by 16 inches
- Weight: 30 pounds
- Enamel coating protects the steel from rust
- Large size ideal for outdoor fireplaces
- Eight bars offer ample support
- At 30 pounds, can be difficult to move
With a durable construction, manageable weight, and dimensions that suit the most common fireplace sizes, the Amagabeli Black Wrought Iron Fireplace Log Grate is one of the best all-around grates for a wood-burning fireplace. If you’re looking for a fireplace grate that requires little-to-no fire tending and don’t mind a nontraditional appearance, then consider the Grate Wall of Fire Model M-5 Fireplace Grate.
How We Chose the Best Fireplace Grates
We considered several factors when choosing the best fireplace grates, including quality of construction, design, weight, and size. We chose only those grates constructed from a single piece of forged iron or steel models with bars at least 0.5 inches in diameter, ensuring that the grate can hold up to a full load of logs without bowing.
With regard to design, we featured grates with at least 3 inches of clearance from the hearth floor to ensure ample airflow. We also favored grates with curved tines that secured the logs while also helping feed them to the flames.
Since moving the grates regularly to clean ash is a requirement, we chose grates that are heavy enough to provide a solid base for logs but not so heavy they would be difficult to maneuver for cleaning.
The Advantages of Owning a Fireplace Grate
A fireplace grate for a wood-burning fireplace offers several advantages. Airflow is key to achieving a good burn in a wood-burning fireplace. Grates facilitate airflow by raising the wood off the hearth by 3 to 4 inches, allowing oxygen to circulate below the logs.
Fireplace grates also reduce the amount of tending needed to keep the fire burning while making it safer. The curved tines of a grate push the logs toward the burning embers, so the user doesn’t have to do it manually. The bars also help contain shifting logs, reducing the risk that a burning log can roll into the room.
- Grates create airflow to promote an efficient burn
- Grates self-feed the fire, reducing the need for tending
- Grates hold the logs in place, reducing the risk of a fire hazard
For shoppers wondering which material is best for a fireplace grate or how to maintain a grate, keep reading for answers to these and other burning questions about these fireplace accessories.
Q. What is the best metal for a fireplace grate?
Cast iron is the best metal for a fireplace grate. It consists of a single metal piece, eliminating the need for welds that can potentially fail. Cast iron also retains heat better than steel.
Q. How are fireplace grates measured?
Fireplace grates are measured in length and depth. When measuring for a fireplace grate, remember that grates need about 3 inches of free space around all sides to promote proper airflow.
Q. How do I clean a fireplace grate?
To clean a fireplace grate, remove any ash or soot buildup with a dry rag. Avoid using water, as it can cause rust. Once a year, polish cast-iron grates with black grate polish to prevent rust and provide a like-new appearance. Periodically add a coat of heat-resistant black paint to steel grates.
Q: Can I use a fireplace without a grate?
Yes, you can have a fire in a wood-burning fireplace without a grate. A grate simply allows a fire to burn more efficiently while making it easier to manage.