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Hearths tend to get short shrift in books and articles about fireplaces. But the hearth is the base on which the whole chimney is built. And because it's usually up to the builder to frame the hearth opening — and sometimes to pour the hearth as well — it behooves him to understand the codes governing fireplace hearths and the techniques used to build them. Having built fireplaces all over the country, I've learned that a successful job requires good communication and coordination between the builder and the mason. In this article I'll outline what the code says about fireplace hearths and describe three methods of building them. Terminology A fireplace hearth consists of