Anyone have a wood burning stove?

naominicholAugust 10, 2006

We have a 100 year old farmhouse, and it is simple inside (wood floors, square moldings). Anyway, poorly insulated, original windows, etc., drove us to put in a woodstove. We've ordered a Woodstock fireview soapstone stove, but also need to build a hearth and surround. Anyone have pictures they'd like to share of their surrounds?? I'd like to keep it period-appropriate, no slate or river rock, but simple as well. I'm considering faded red brick, but worry that it will look too busy with the stove.

Any help is appreciated!!


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Burning wood is my only source of heat in my old farmhouse in northern NY. I have both a pellet burner and an old (but often rebuilt) Vermont Castings wood stove.

Since you are describing creating a new hearth, I am assuming you are not installing your stove in a pre-existing fireplace.

I don't have the tech savvy to post pictures, but I did want to warn you that when you create a "hearth" and fire surround you need to think about the fact most likely you will have a combustible wall behind it and underneath it. Never mind that the hearth and surround materials won't burn themselves; they will transfer heat to the studs and wall and floor surfaces behind them. Over time the transferred heat will create fire safety issues. You can't just slap up a surround behind the stove; you have to think about what's behind the non-combustible materials.

Your woodstove will come with a manual that will specify how far away from combustible surfaces you you must keep the bottom, back and sides of the stove. It may feel like it's in the middle of the room, but don't compromise unless you can also install heat sheilds to the back (and bottom and sides if necessary) of the stove and any rising pipes. You can gain a few more inches (or more precisely loose them, and move the stove closer to the wall or surround) if you protect it with another heat shield on the wall. I am not familiar with your model, but soapstone stoves can be deceptively touchable but still need a fair amount of clearance. Your dealer can help you work out the correct dimensions.

Our stove has both a heat shield on the box and on the back of the connector pipes as they rise to the thimble. We also have a heat sheild on the wall, which is basically a piece of cement board held about 1" off the wall and not reaching the floor by a couple of inches and kept about 1 1/2" below the ceiling. This allows a steady stream of convected air to rise behind the board to keep the wall cooler and. safe. My cement board is painted with ordinary latex paint. I had planned to tile it for decor's sake, but I haven't gotten around to that job yet. (It's too embarassing to tell you how long ago I was planning to do this!)

You can also buy heat sheilds for underneath the stove if you have wood floors, or stone directly on top of wood floors, as in our case. I created a hearth on top of my wood floor with a complicated stack of sand, insulated board and bricks, all rimmed with a wooden molding. The stove sits on top of the bricks.

In addition to getting a safe hearth arrangement you should also have a chimney check-up before your start the burning year. And have a plan for how you're going to handle the ashes. We keep ours outside in a closed garbage can away from our wooden building.

And then start with small, modest, fires until your stove is broken in and you are intimately familiar with it and how it burns. And of course, go over (and practice) your family fire escape plan.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:39AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for your reply! Yes, we'll have to do the 1" spacing behind the stove, as well as build it off the floor. We're lucky that the building inspector in our town is also the fire marshall, so we'll certainly get his advice. I didn't know you could just paint the backerboard. What about other materials? I'd love beadboard, but it would have to be fire retardant...I am just really stuck on ideas, and can't find pics on the web that aren't in someone's cabin.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


Just to be clear, the heat shields on the stove and pipes are metal and purchased from the manufacturer. I would say they stand about 1 3/4" to 2" away from the back of the metal parts of the stove.

The heat shield on the wall behind the stove is cement board. It is held about 1 1/2" off the wall by long screws that go through those porcelain electric fence post insulators between the back of the board and the wall. The insulators are there so the screws can be snugged up and not bend the cement board which always seems fairly fragile even though I've been using it for more than two decades, with plenty of chances to accidentally break it. When we first designed this set-up we didn't plan on using the insulators, but had trouble getting the board to stand off properly and we came up with the idea of using them . They did the trick, and have the advantage of being cheap and readily accessible. Along the base the bottom edge of the heat shield is supported by 3 or 4 angle brackets.

The stove heat shields buy you some reduced clearances and the additional heat shield on the combustible wall buys you some more. But the back of our stove is still probably 20 or 21" away from the vertical plane of the heat shield on the wall. Our installation does not look like a fireplace with stove insert. It looks like a big stove sticking out into the room. And as such is actually quite historically-accurate as big old coal and wood stoves were parked right out there in the room. (I have pictures of my house interiors c 1875 and the these ornate behemoths were standing proudly in most of the rooms. The really shocking part is how long the horizontal runs of stove pipe ran before they entered the chimney. Some of mine were 15 feet or more. It's astounding any of these houses survived.) But the stove standing the middle of the room reality flies in the face of the modern colonial-esque aesthetic with wood-burning appliances tucked discretely into former fireplaces, surrounded by lovely paneling and mantles.

And yes, our wall heat shield is painted with ordinary latex paint. I have repainted it a couple of times when we moved or changed decorating schemes. The screws are countersunk into the cement board, but because it is not very thick there is a limit on how concealed they can be. Around the hole where the chimney pipe goes into the chimney we have cut the cement board back and covered the the area with one of those round panels. The hold up on the tiling is that it would be fairly permanent and you would have to destroy it to take down the cement board because the screw holes would be concealed by the tiles. I have never worked out a solution to this although I'm sure there is one.

It is also a place that is hard to clean behind. I finally settled on using one of those wands intended for cleaning under a refrigerator.

Are you thinking of having a mantle and surrounding supports? I have some rudimentary ideas about that, though haven't worked out all the details, yet.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Laceykenzie,

Go to, go into their forums, then find the forum labeled "The Perfect Picture". Folks who have bought stoves(including the Fireview) have pictures on there, might give you and idea.
I do not have an old house, but building a new house in an old southern-style. I am putting my Fireview on a brick hearth, then brick up the wall(with the appropriate things mentioned above to meet local code). Best of luck on your installation, and enjoying your stove.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 4:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks for all of the info!
Molly - yes, the stove will sit out in the room. There is no existing fireplace or chimney, just a hole in the ceiling where there was once a stove pipe, where it went up through an upstairs bedroom and out the roof (!?). We're putting the chimney pipe up through a bathroom closet and through the roof. I think we'll do brick under the stove (over cement board and plywood), then the cement backer and plywood for the surround, up about 4 feet. Thanks for the spacer idea - will mention it to DH. I'm thinking of using tin ceiling tiles to cover the cement board, would look great in the house and saves some weight. We're concerned about putting so much weight in one area, as we do have some foundation issues, so an entire surround of brick isn't going to happen.

Housekeeping - I'll definitely check out the site you posted. I've been there but didn't find the pictures.

Thanks for the input!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 1:01PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I'm a little confused about where you're going to put the cement board and plywood..... were you thinking of putting the plywood against the back of the cement board? I would be worried that you'd have a fire risk there because the cement board does get warm under normal circumstances. In a situation where you had an overfire you might get it hot enough to ignite the plywood. Cement board is not intended to be insulative; it's merely there as a non-combustible barrier to create a separate the air channel to keep the combustible wall cool enough. Please double check with your maunfacturer about that. Our cement board is just that layer, nothing behind it except for air. It seems very fragile, but I have lurched into it and banged it a number times chasing after a cat or when cleaning, and so far nothing has damaged it. And our board is more than 20 years old. (Ok, so now you know how long I've been meaning to put tile on it! - The idea of tin ceiling panels sounds great, BTW.)

Also double check about the stack of plywood,cement board and bricks underneath the stove. All of those can transfer heat downward to your combustible floor. We have a stack made up like this: wood floor; 1 to 2 inches -the floor is very uneven in this area - of play sand contained in a plastic "envelope". On top of that is a 5/8 thick insulation board, then cement board, then bricks. The sand is there because of the extraordinary unevenness of the floor; the insulation board is what keeps heat from radiating down to the wooden floor. The cement board is to keep the whole she-bang smooth and stable and the bricks are for decorative effect. From time to time I noodle about replacing them with some soap stone slabs, but haven't found the right material, at the right price, yet. Brick is messy and hard to keep clean.



    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 1:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Trying again;
I live in a concrete-slab house covered with earth except for a stairwell to my garage and some windows and a door on the downhill side. For 26 years my primary heat source for the three coldest winter months has been a now 104-year-old cast iron wood stove, a Round Oak. I also have a couple electric heaters, but they're not enough even underground in December, January, and February in the north. This year the insurance company that has provided my Homeowners' insurance all this time changed hands and changed rules and canceled my policy, apparently having conceived the idea that reinforced concrete is combustible. I found another company that was apparently willing to take over, but am now told that I basically have to tear out my bedframe AND install some kind of heat shield. Moving the stove will not solve the problem, as that would bring it too close to the desk that is even less movable than the bed. Oh, and the wooden covering of a steel pillar also freaks them out.
I have the same 2 feet of clearance I've had for over two and a half decades. Much as I detest the thought of cluttering up the house all year round with an ugly heat shield for the three months they claim I need it, I don't even know whether that would quiet their paranoia. Is there such a thing as a removable heat shield that would work two feet from the stove?
I may yet simply give up on Homeowners' insurance entirely.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For a huge amount of information (and pictures) of hearths, surrounds and all things woodstove related, check

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 5:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

here is my jotul in the living room. circa 80's

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 9:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Be aware that the stove will weigh a significant amount with the structure under it and behind it. The wood stove in the old part of our house caused the floor to sag significantly. You will need to see how it might effect your foundation.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 11:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

1st thing I would do is clean out the attic and install some 6 -12 inches of the blow in type insulation or the batts. You will be amazed! I know I still am living in the old house I grew up in as a kid! Next go to "youtube" or Google "rocket Mass heater" by the ebook if you have to and read it several times! I know it will blow your mind and realize the most effecient stove or heater you may ever own is one you can make all by yourself! And you probably have all or most everything you need to get started right on your farm already. Your back will love you! And you will love it when you realize you may burn about 1/4 as much wood as you have in the past years! The goal is to heat "the mass" and the mass will keep your house warm anywhere from a 1-3 days without having to keep re-supplying your fire like in a conventional wood burning stove situation. This would also be ideal for heating almost any type of green house or sun room even in the colder north country.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:21PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Claw foot
I also posted this in the bathroom forum, but though...
Should we try to reuse old windows?
I am not sure how old the windows in our second floor...
prairiemoon2 z6 MA
Hi. I have never posted in this particular forum before,...
Just closed on an older home and homeowners policy was cancelled
Six days ago, we closed on the house of our dreams,...
Need color help with exterior paint on 1902 Victorian with bad siding
We have a 1902 victorian in a small town in Iowa. Unfortunately,...
Jennifer Weinman
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™