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Is Slate or Granite best for your fireplace?

Posted: 7th April 2014 by Fireplaces South West

Having a fireplace in your home can really help to invite guests into a room, as well as creating a cosy atmosphere for you and your family. As well as warming you up, the sight of a stone fireplace and hearth can really elevate the whole room, but it’s important to decide which type of stone and in what finish.

At Fireplaces South West, we can help and advise you in the selection process. With over 20 years experience in importing luxury stone from around the world, we’ve chosen some of the finest examples to use in your fireplace and hearth. Slate is the traditional building material for fireplaces, but the different properties of granite may be better suited to your own needs. Here we provide an overview of each to help you decide which is best for you.


Italian Slate Fireplaces

Italian Black Slate hearth

Slate is a metamorphic rock made of compressed shale that has evolved over the years to create a stone that is comparatively soft but able to withstand heat and pressure very well.

Our Italian Black Slate is carefully selected from mines in Northern Italy, which differ from the more common ‘open’ mines by being located deep within caves.

The slate, or Ardesia as it’s known in its native country, is valued for fireplace construction due to its heat resistance, as well as its beautiful deep, muted finish. Ardesia is quite a soft stone, which gives it a certain flexibility and also allows it to age over the years in a similar but slower fashion to wood. The aged patina that will develop can be a beautiful finish, although the slate is slightly more susceptible to scratches and chips if suffers repeated heavy use.


Zimbabwe Granite Fireplaces

Polished Zimbabwe Granite

Zimbabwean Black Granite, as you would expect, is a much harder fireplace material than slate, although the particular granite we select from this African country is noted for its uniform appearance and visual similarity to the black slate.

Because it is from a denser, igneous rock, it is capable of sustaining a high polish that is resistant to scratching - granite is harder than most kitchen knives - it is important to consider that it won’t age as slate will. How the granite looks when it is installed is how it will continue to look for many decades, which might be perfect if you want a fireplace in a modern home or one that can withstand years of hard use.

Although we choose Zimbabwean Granite for its superb appearance, we choose a European supplier from Italy as they can ensure more ethical working conditions for the miners in Zimbabwe, as well as a more uniform finish to the end product. This means a better deal for the Zimbabweans and a better deal for you.


We hope that has given you some information to start thinking about which stone would be right for you, but if you would like to know more then we are always happy to hear from you. You can send us a message, give us a call, or visit our Bristol offices and see the stone we have in person and chat to our master craftsmen about which fireplace is right for you.