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Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for Best fireplace screens

Why do you need a fireplace screen for your fireplace? Well, as fire burns a log, cellulose inside the wood turns to gas. This gas expands and ruptures the cell walls to produce that familiar, soothing crackle. Every once in a while, these gases collect and build up enough pressure to create a small explosion or pop. These pops can launch flaming pieces of wood a good distance from the fire, creating a safety hazard.

Fireplace screens create an effective defensive barrier to keep these flaming pieces of wood from rocketing out of the firebox to ruin your floor or potentially start a house fire.

When shopping for a fireplace screen, you want to choose one that is the right size for your fireplace. Otherwise, it won't be effective. In addition to size, there are several other important features to consider.

Since heat rises, a traditional fireplace is not very energy efficient because a majority of the heat flows up the chimney, not into the room. This is why you have to sit close to a fireplace to feel its warmth.

Key considerations

Decorative vs. functional

Before purchasing a fireplace screen, determine what its primary use will be. There are only two options, decoration and functionality, so your choice will be easy.

Decorative fireplace screens: A decorative fireplace screen adds style and beauty to a fireplace that is not in use. It is important to understand that this type of a screen will not protect you, and it should never be used while a fire is burning.

Functional fireplace screens: The primary purpose of this type of a screen is to stop sparks and embers from leaving the firebox as well as to keep children and pets away from the fire. While this type of screen may also add beauty to your fireplace, that is not its main function.


For a fireplace screen to be effective, it must be the proper size. To determine what that size is, all you have to do is measure the opening of your fireplace (when there is no fire burning, of course).

For a rectangular opening

First, measure the width of the bottom and the width of the top. Add 2 inches to the longest measurement to get the minimum width of screen needed. Next, measure the two sides. Add 1 inch to the longest measurement to get the minimum height needed.

For an arched opening

Follow all of the directions for measuring a rectangular opening, but also measure from the hearth (fireplace floor) to the top of the arch (apex) so you know how high the arch of the fireplace screen needs to be.


Fireplace screens come in seven basic styles: curtain, single panel, bowed, folding, screens with doors, spark guard, and child guard.

Curtain: As it sounds, this type of screen hangs in front of the fire like a curtain to protect the surroundings from sparks and embers.

Single panel: For a clean, smooth look, choose a single-panel screen. This style is easy to use. It may fit flush (depending on your fireplace design), and it offers complete coverage.

Bowed: A bowed fireplace screen has the same basic design as a single-panel screen, but it bows outward to create a three-dimensional look. The downside of a bowed fireplace screen: it is not the most sturdy option and typically won't work on an uneven hearth.

Folding: This is one of the most common fireplace screen styles. Because it folds, just a section needs to be moved when you tend to the fire. Since it folds flat when not in use, this type of fireplace screen is easy to store.

Screens with doors: Some modern fireplace screens feature doors that can be easily opened and closed to tend to the fire. These screens are convenient and may be easier on the back than screens that must be picked up and moved whenever you tend to the fire.

Spark guard: A spark guard fireplace screen sits out from the fireplace but is fully enclosed on the top and sides to ensure that no sparks escape.

Child guard: This screen functions more like a fence around the fireplace and may be freestanding or permanently fastened to your wall. It is best for gas fireplaces because it does not feature an actual screen to protect from sparks and embers. Instead, its primary function is to keep pets and children a safe distance away from the fire.

Are you searching for a screen for a fireplace that is no longer being used? If it is only needed for decoration (not safety), you have a much wider range of materials to choose from, including decorative fabric.




Fireplace screens that are used in functioning fireplaces need to be fireproof. For this reason, they are most often made of metal. Iron is typically considered the best and is by far the most common metal used, but brass and copper fireplace screens also exist. Glass is another material used in the manufacturing of fireplace screens. While glass tends to be more ornate, it also blocks some of the heat, which may be a pro or a con, depending on your needs.


Some fireplace screens have built-in handles so the screen is easier to move. If this sounds like a feature you would use, look for a fireplace screen with handles.


To save space, you can get a fireplace screen with hooks to hang your fireplace tools (poker, tongs, shovel, etc.) within easy reach.


The look of your fireplace screen depends on your sense of style. You can have everything from a basic screen to an intricate design. Fireplace screens can feature straight lines, swirling patterns, or images. The idea is to choose a design that works with the rest of the room so the screen fits in and doesn't stand out.

For Your Safety
To have the safest, best burning fire, it is important to use only seasoned or dry wood in your fireplace. It can take anywhere from six months to a year for wood to be properly seasoned.

Fireplace screen prices

Inexpensive: In the $40 to $60 range, fireplace screens tend to be very basic folding metal designs. These are effective but not very ornate.

Mid-range: Once you move into the $60 to $100 price range, fireplace screens become more elegant. They serve as protection and add an element of style to a room. The screens in this price range may be single-panel, bowed, or folding.

High-end: From $100 to $200, fireplace screens focus on design details and may even have built-in hooks to hang your fireplace tools. Most notable in this price range is the addition of a door that allows you to tend to the fire without moving the entire screen. If you want a glass fireplace screen, this will likely cost $200 or more.

Opening the damper in the fireplace increases the amount of air that is drawn to the fire, allowing it to produce more heat. This also makes the wood burn faster.



  • Always use a fireplace screen. A fireplace screen protects your home and family from heat, sparks, and embers. There is no reason not to use one.
  • Keep the area clear. All toys, furniture, drapes, books, magazines, and other flammable materials should be kept away from the fireplace to reduce the risk of an accidental fire.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Although you might leave the room temporarily to get a drink or visit the bathroom, you should not start a fire and congregate in another room. Never go to bed while a fire is still burning.
  • Install a smoke detector. Even if you do not have a fireplace, you need smoke detectors in your home.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector. Fire creates carbon monoxide. If you have a fireplace or any type of fuel-burning appliance in your home, you need a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Purchase a fire extinguisher. All homes need a fire extinguisher. In a home with a fireplace, a Class A fire extinguisher is the type that is needed.
  • Have your chimney regularly inspected. If you use your fireplace, your chimney should be inspected at least once each year by a professional who will check that it is in safe operating condition.
Even if you have a gas fireplace, it is important to have a fireplace screen to prevent pets and children from venturing too close to the flame.


Q. Do fireplace screens get hot?

A. Since you will need to move it whenever you add wood — and that may be while a fire is burning — a fireplace screen is not supposed to get hot. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. A metal fireplace screen that has been placed too close to a fire can become hot enough to burn your fingers. Before touching a fireplace screen, determine if there is any heat radiating from the metal. If there is, it may not be safe to touch. Note that a hot fireplace screen that is moved to the floor could damage the floor.

Q. Is a wooden fireplace screen safe?

A. While a variety of wooden fireplace screens exist on the market, it is important to understand and be fully aware that this type of a screen should never be used on an active fireplace. The purpose of a wooden fireplace screen is decoration. It can only be safely placed in front of a fireplace when there is no fire burning.

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