There’s nothing like the crackle of a warm fire in the colder months. But to be safe, a wood stove needs a hearth pad to sit on. If you’ve got a quirky, old Maine home that’s difficult to fit with a hearth pad because of a sloping floor or a crooked corner, the Danforth family in Dexter can help.

After they retired, the Danforths – Dan and Venise, and Dan’s brother Wayne – started making hearth pads for wood, gas and pellet stoves. They started their business in 2009, working out of their garage and initially selling their pads to dealers, who would then mark up the price, sometimes substantially, Wayne Danforth said.

“We saw a need for pads that were affordable, and we wanted to help people that need custom work done,” he said. “We’re not a big business, but we’re a nice niche business that brings in some nice revenue.”

There’s no showroom for the customers of Maine Hearth Pads to browse – that showroom is in the Danforths’ own home, which eliminates overhead. They have an assortment of ceramic and porcelain tiles to choose from, or customers can bring in their own tiles if they want a particular color, or want the tile to match something else in their home. (Repurposed, discounted tiles are available.)

The family will also help customers design their own pad, if they need a special size or configuration. Sometimes, for example, a pad needs to fit around a register in the floor, or requires a pedestal so it can sit on uneven flooring. “We’re not terribly fancy,” Wayne Danforth said, “but the pads we make are functional, and we put the quality into it.”

The Danforths have sold hearth pads as far away as New Jersey, but most customers are people with homes and camps in Maine. “People will drive four or five hours to come to us,” Danforth said.

The Danforths initially work with a lot of customers over the phone, but hearth pad shoppers are also welcome to just stop by their home at 360 Garland Road between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. It’s a good idea to call first (924-7851), especially if you’re traveling a long way. You can browse some of their selection on their website, mainehearthpads.com, or on their Facebook page.

Customers must pick up the finished hearth pads themselves. It takes about 10 days to make the average pad. Prices begin at $199 and can go up to $1,000, depending on the size and design.

— MEREDITH GOAD

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