In the last 30 years, the number of burn injuries to children under five has fallen dramatically. This is partly because fewer people have working fireplaces in their homes, and partly because we are more aware of the dangers and take the time to babyproof our fireplaces.
A fireplace screen is one piece of your fireplace babyproofing system. It protects your room from the stray sparks and embers that fly from your fire and provides a barrier between your child and the blaze.
- Heavy and sturdy
- No assembly required
- Available in dull gold color finish
- Affordable without being shoddy
- Matching fireplace accessories available
- Folds flat when not in use
- Provides unobstructed view of the fire
- Heavyweight at 35 pounds
- Easy to assemble in under an hour
- Clean and flush look
- Minimizes chimney’s effect on room
- Secure glass doors for safety
- Wide magnetic doors
- Sits flush against the hearth
- Easy to clean powder coat finish
- Cast iron screen does not get too hot
- Secure when opening door
- Can be fitted to fireplace surround
- Screen folds flat for easy storage
- Comes with handles
- Gold color accents are easy to clean
Does a Fireplace Need a Screen?
If you have fires in your fireplace, then you need a fireplace screen (1). The main reason for this is to prevent sparks and embers from the fire, either popping out and burning your child directly or falling onto a surface or item that can ignite and cause a more extensive home fire.
Do Fireplace Screens Get Hot?
Fireplace screens can get hot. How hot they get depends on the material from which the screen is made, how close the screen is to the fire, the size of the fire, and the type of fire.
For example, a glass screen in front of a gas fire can become hot enough to cause significant burns. It can also stay hot for an hour or more after the fire has been turned off.
On the other hand, a metal fireplace screen, set further back from a fireplace in which a small wood fire is burning, might only become warm to the touch.
As a rough guide:
- Glass screens get hotter and retain the heat for longer than metal fireplace screens.
- Gas fires burn more efficiently than wood fires. Therefore screens around wood fires are less likely to become dangerously hot than those around gas fires.
- An inset screen that sits within the fireplace’s opening will become hotter than a firescreen standing a foot or more away from the fire.
How to Choose the Best Fireplace Screens
When you are looking for a fireplace screen, these are the things you should consider.
The first thing to do is measure the opening of your fireplace.
For inset or recessed fireplace screens that do not sit on the hearth but fit directly within the opening, the manufacturers list the size of opening each model will fit.
A flat fireplace screen that sits on the hearth, right against the opening, has to be at least one inch bigger than your fireplace opening across the top and down each side.
A folding fireplace screen that sits further back from the opening must be at least three inches taller than the opening and a minimum of 10-12 inches wider.
Glass fireplace screens provide a clearer view of your fire. They also absorb and radiate heat from the fire, so you do not get any reduction in efficiency.
The downside of this is that a glass fireplace screen will become noticeably dirty when using your fireplace. If you have to pick your screen up to move it and add more fuel, you’ll see finger or glove marks, and you also get soot from the fire.
Plus, even glass designed for a fireplace screen can get hot enough to cause burns. So you must have another barrier between a glass screen and your child.
Other fireplace screens are metal, which will still become hot but, generally speaking, not as hot as glass. They may have different color finishes, but the underlying material is usually iron or steel.
You will see low-profile screens that sit directly against your fireplace opening or larger, paneled designs that sit further back and form a barrier around the fire.
There are modern designs with straight lines and little decoration or more traditional styles with decorative elements.
As a general rule, fireplace screens are stable when no one is touching them. They are not stable enough to stay upright if a child tries to pull themselves up on them.
You will see screens with stability rods or stability rods that can be retrofitted to screens. However, although they add an extra level of protection, they can not be relied on to keep your screen upright when a determined toddler pulls against it.
Fireplace screens that affix to the wall or fireplace will minimize the chance of the screen tipping or falling, causing injury, or allowing your child to get to the fire.
The majority of fireplace screens are in the $70 to $100 range. However, as with all things, you can find examples that are double, triple, or more.
The Best Fireplace Screens of 2021
Taking these criteria, babyproofing your fireplace guidelines, online reviews, and our own experiences into account, these are our picks for the best fireplace screens.
1. “Margaret” 3-Panelled Iron Fireplace Screen
Wrought-iron fireplace screens have the advantage of being much heavier than fireplace screens made of other materials. This makes them less easy for children, pets, and adults to knock over accidentally.
The design of this particular screen is created using solid iron bars. As a result, there are no sharp edges for babies and kids to catch themselves on. Another advantage of this is that there are no molded elements where dirt, soot, or ash can collect.
The fireplace screen mesh is relatively tight, preventing sparks and embers from escaping the fire but without blocking the fire’s heat.
On the downside, the height of the fireplace screen legs means there’s a one-inch gap between the bottom of the screen and the hearth. While we didn’t experience any issues and couldn’t find any mentions, there is potential for embers to escape underneath.
- Heavy, so not easily knocked over.
- No assembly is required.
- Also available in a dull gold color finish.
- There’s a one-inch gap between the bottom rail of the screen and the hearth.
|Number of panels||Three panels|
2. Preston: 3-Panel Fireplace Screen With Handles
There’s a fine line between affordable and cheap. Fortunately, the Preston 3-panel fireplace screen lands on the better quality side of this fence.
The frame is made of steel which comes coated in paint listed as vintage iron.
This leaves the screen a pleasing dark, charcoal grey color, making a nice change from the more common black screen. The mesh is the same color, but it is difficult to distinguish this unless you are very close to the screen.
There are handles on each side of the screen to help you move it out from the fire, and some users have used these handles to secure the firescreen to the wall. However, this is not what the manufacturers intended.
There was a production run in which the mesh screen wasn’t well attached to the frame. In this case, the screen had a slightly wavy appearance, which some people found distracting. However, this does appear to be an occasional issue and not the standard.
- Affordable, without being shoddy.
- Matching fireplace accessories are available.
- It folds flat when not in use.
- The mesh is not always firmly tacked to the uprights, giving a wavy appearance.
|Number of panels||Three panels|
3. “Barton: 3-Panel Fireplace Screen
Barton’s three-panel glass fireplace screen has a trio of panels held together by highly polished aluminum brackets. These brackets hold the panels in a fixed position, so you cannot change the angle as you would with a traditional, hinged, metal fireplace screen.
The glass makes it a heavy fireplace screen, and if you have to move it and tend to the fire, this can be difficult. This, in turn, makes it highly likely you’ll spend a lot of time cleaning fingerprints off of this screen.
Made of tempered glass, if the screen were to break, it would fall into small pieces of glass rather than more significant, more dangerous shards.
The downside of this glass fireplace screen is that it can get quite hot. Exactly how hot depends on the size of your fire and how close you set the screen. While we did not experience excessive or dangerous heat, some uses have reported it to be hot to the touch.
- Provides an unobstructed view of the fire.
- At 35 pounds, it’s unlikely to fall over.
- Easy to assemble in under an hour.
- Awkward to move back and forth to tend to the fire.
|Material||Glass with aluminum brackets|
|Width||47 ¾ inches|
|Number of panels||Three panels|
4. Pleasant Hearth: AT-1000 Ascot Fireplace Glass
Designed to fit directly into your firebox, the Ascot fireplace screen from Pleasant Hearth consists of a frame, a pair of mesh doors, and a pair of glass doors.
When the fireplace is not in use, you leave both sets of doors closed. The glass doors prevent children from putting things into the fireplace or playing in the opening. It also minimizes drafts from the chimney cooling the room.
When you have a fire, the glass doors open to a position sitting flat against the fireplace. This is because the glass is not designed to withstand the temperatures of the fire and would shatter if left closed.
While you do need some basic skills to install this fireplace screen, it is not difficult, so you do not have to hire a specialist for installation.
- Sits within the fireplace opening for a clean, flush look.
- Minimizes the chimney’s effect on your room temperature.
- Secure glass doors keep kids safe from the fire.
- For masonry fireplaces only — does not work for a prefabricated fireplace.
|Material||Steel and glass|
|Number of panels||Two doors|
5. Celtic Knot: Fireplace Screen with Hinged Doors
This screen has a more flush design to sit flat against the fireplace rather than standing further away like a multi-paneled design. As a result, it is inclined to become warmer than a firescreen that sits further away.
Some owners have removed the back part of the fireplace screen foot and affixed the screen to the surround, leaving it permanently in place.
We like this particular screen because of the doors. Held closed by magnets, these wide doors open to sitting flat against the fireplace. This allows you to feed fuel to the fire or otherwise tend it without moving the screen every time.
Not having to move the firescreen is especially helpful if you have the firescreen as one layer of your fireplace babyproofing system and your baby fence also needs to be moved.
- Doors allow you to tend fire without moving the screen.
- It sits flush against the hearth, so stays warm.
- Easy to clean powder coat finish.
- The knots are not three-dimensional.
|Number of panels||One|
6. Plow & Hearth: Scrollwork Small Fireplace Screen
This scrollwork fireplace screen is a good balance between minimalist and decorative. It combines traditional style cast iron scrollwork with a modern steel frame. The overall result is a fireplace screen that would not look out of place in most homes.
There are two adjustable feet. The feet can be moved to different points along the length of the screen, which ensures that, no matter how wide the opening of your fireplace is, the rear feet will fit within it.
Alternatively, some owners have removed the rear portion of the feet and used the screw holes to affix the screen permanently to the surround. However, this is not a method of installation listed by the manufacturer, so only do so if you are confident you can do so correctly.
- Cast iron screen does not get too hot to touch.
- Secure, does not move when opening the doors.
- It can be fitted to the fireplace surround.
- Some owners report misaligned doors.
|Material||Steel and cast iron|
|Number of panels||One|
7. Amagabeli: 4 Panel, Ornate, Wrought Iron, Fireplace Screen
Four-panel fireplace screens are hard to come by. The majority appear to be either flay, inserts, or three panels, so there is a relatively small pool of options to choose from. Hence why the Amagabeli four-panel model made it to our list of the best fireplace screens.
There is nothing terribly wrong with this screen, but there is nothing outstandingly good either. It is adequate for the job, will keep sparks and embers escaping from your fire, and with four panels, it has a certain flexibility in the way you position it on the hearth.
If you are looking for a lightweight fireplace screen, then at under eight pounds, this is your best option. However, being this light means it will not stand up well to falling kids or curious toddlers.
- The screen folds flat for easy storage.
- Has handles, so you don’t have to touch the dirty screen.
- Gold color accents are easy to clean.
- Only 7.7 pounds, so it could easily be knocked over.
|Number of panels||Four|
|Product||Best||Material||Height||Width||Weight||Number of panels|
|Margaret 3-Panelled Iron Fireplace Screen||Best Wrought-Iron Fireplace Screen||Wrought iron||30.25″||48.5″||36.5 lbs||3|
|Preston: 3-Panel Fireplace Screen With Handles||Best Affordable Fireplace||Steel||32″||53″||14 lbs||3|
|“Barton: 3-Panel Fireplace Screen||Best Glass Fireplace Screen||Glass with aluminum brackets||30″||47 ¾”||35 lbs||3|
|Pleasant Hearth: AT-1000 Ascot Fireplace Glass||Best for Toddlers||Steel & glass||30″||37.5″||47 lbs||2|
|Celtic Knot: Fireplace Screen with Hinged Doors||Best With Doors||Steel||33″||44″||27 lbs||1|
|Plow & Hearth: Scrollwork Small Fireplace Screen||Best Stylish Fireplace Screen||Steel & cast iron||40.5″||34″||29 lbs||1|
|Amagabeli: 4 Panel, Ornate, Wrought Iron, Fireplace Screen||Best Four-Panel Fireplace Screen||Steel||32″||51″||7.7 lbs||4|
A fireplace can be as beautiful as it is practical. But if you are using it for heating and have a child in your home, it is critical to ensure you take all precautions to keep you, your child, and your home safe.
The best fireplace screens provide a barrier between the fire and the room, preventing accidental blazes caused by flying embers. They also protect your child from sparks and embers and prevent them from poking items they should not into the fireplace.