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ARTICLES - - Woodstove Hearth Construction

One of our fine forum members (Gwleo) recently constructed a nice built-in wood stove hearth and shared his method and pictures with us. In this case, a stone platform was desired along with two adjacent corner walls.

A step by step process:

1. I did research on clearances on this web site and printed off the wood stove owners manual I was fairly sure I was going to buy (Englander NC30).
2. I drew a sketch on paper so as to visualize the plan.
3. I taped out the outline of the hearth and of the stove (I lived with this for a couple of months) I played with different heights of the wall surround until I found what I liked.
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4. I used a rotary saw and cut up the composite wood floor - and had an electrician properly remove the electrical outlet..
I layed out and fastened the metal 2x4s on the floor and then the wall.  The studs were installed sideways so as to take up less space.
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5. I then cut and screwed on the cement board.  3 layers on the base (because I had plenty and I wanted the base that far off the floor), 1 layer on the toe kick, 2 layers on the back surround ( I used 2 layers for added heat protection and so I could use 3/4”  staples for affixing the metal lathe), 1 layer on top of the surround.
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6. stapled down metal lathe.  ( I started by cutting the cement board with a utility knife but quickly changed to my worm drive saw, much more dust but worth it)
7. skim coat of spec mix over the lathe
8. started laying fake rock from the top down (so any spec mix that falls doesn’t get all over the rock) on the back surround
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9. put on the cap stones on top of the back surround (this was a major point of research…free air space vs. enclosed air space…I went trapped air)
10. Layed down the hearth stones (of course, I had to dry fit, make the custom cuts and then put down)
11. put the rock on the toe kick.  (this rock is floated above the floor in case a new floor is ever put in)
12. clean up
13. set the stove in place
14. plumb bob from ceiling to center of stove exhaust hole. cut hole. plumb bob from bottom of roof to center of stove exhaust hole.  put in all the pieces and parts with custom cutting on the insulation shield due to height restrictions.  lots of silicone and black jack on the stove pipe weather shield.
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Webmasters notes - the finished stove and hearth look beautiful and present solid and safe construction. There are some parts of the job that could be simplified and or changed to reflect the stove and materials being used. For instance:

1. The cement board on the rear wall can be installed on non-combustible spacers - they are available commercially, can be made from copper pipe, or even cut from strips of the cement board and installed vertically.
2. A single sheet of 1/2” Cement Board is adequate for holding most ceramic tiles and lighter facade stone - as long as the board is well fastened to the wall.
3. Metal lath is not usually required over the cement board for most tile and some lightweight stone products - check the instructions and specifications provided by the stone manufacturer.
4. In situations where the wall is decorative only, there does not need to be an airspace or spacers behind the cement board. Cement board can be screwed and glued directly to the wall.
5. If the wall is spaced out as per this type of installation, and max. clearance reduction is desired, it is best to provide some ventilation at the bottom and top. This can be done by cleverly leaving out some mortar joints at the bottom, etc. - and also leaving the top open so any heat built up behind the wall can flow out.

All in all, a really nice job which should allow our readers to get some ideas of the process.
Thanks Gwleo!


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