Marble Fireplaces are often installed with cast iron back panels and slabbed black granite hearts when they are used with solid fuel applications (burning wood and coal). Marble Fireplaces are not suitable for solid fuel without any modifications as the intense heat will form a fault in the marble and eventually crack the surface. It is possible to cut the marble into sections and fill the back of the hearth and panel with cement to make the marble fireplace more resistant to heat, this process is called “slabbing” and is very common. The alternative way to make a marble fireplace suitable for solid fuel is to install the fireplace with a cast iron back panel as shown in the image below. Cast iron is extremely heat resistant and can withstand intense changes in heat. As the majority of the heat is dispersed to the cast iron panel, the marble surround is not affected.

Slabbed black granite hearth

The bottom section of the fireplace (known as the fireplace heath) needs to be cut into sections and rejoined. Cutting the hearth into sections creates an air pocket for the hot air to disperse and prevents the heath from cracking. The heath is also filled with cement to make it denser and increase its resistance to extreme temperature changes. Slabbing is necessary as the heat created by burning coal and logs can be in excess of 400 degrees. Stone fireplaces are often manufactured in thick sections usually 8 inches thick. Stone fire surrounds are much more resistant to heat and are suitable for solid fuel Fires without the need to install a cast iron back panel. It is important to note that stone fireplaces are usually designed in sections (otherwise it would be impossible to carry the weight of the fireplace into a home) and are hence suitable for solid fuel applications.