Historically a free standing fireplace screen's primary purpose was to prevent sparks from popping out onto the carpet or wood floor.  With the majority of wood burning fireplaces being converted to gas, a free standing fireplace screen provides a safety barrier for pets or young children.  There are a wide range of styles and custom design options which creates the finishing touch to a fireplace opening without installing a glass fireplace door.  Typically the screens are built to be "flat" (laying directly against the facing material) or "tri-fold" (set away from the opening onto the hearth).  A tri-fold screen can adapt to a wider range of fireplace widths than a flat screen.  A relatively smooth hearth surface is needed for the screen to be stable.  Screens are built in stock sizes ranging from 30" to 35" high by 39" to 45" wide.  Custom sizes and designs are available.