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Certifiable nut looking for a stove (insert?) in south Alabama

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Intheswamp, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Morning. Ed, here, from down in hot, muggy, humid, south central Alabama about 60 miles south of Montgomery. Before I head outside to mow the grass this morning (in the man killing, tree wilting humidity/heat) I thought I'd post this message so maybe some of ya'll could be chewing over it while I'm sweatin' and swatting horseflies. I'm not sure where to start so I'll give you some background information, current information, wants/desires/wishes/fantasies, and a couple of pictures.

    As mentioned above I'm located in south central Alabama and I'm hoping to install a wood burning appliance within the next couple of months. We have an old existing fireplace that we would like to incorporate into the wood heating. To the best of my knowledge there has never been a fire built in the fireplace unless it was immediately after the house was built. There was two non-working propane floor-furnaces in the house, one was removed to use as a return for our geothermal system. As I recall, these furnaces vented into the chimney from the back. I've included pictures of the fireplace showing dimensions. One dimension not shown is the throat (which is blocked with some rigid insulation that I installed some 20 years ago), the throats rough dimensions are 30"x8".

    The house is brick and was built around 1950 and has lots of GIANT leaky single-pane windows in it. Heated area is ~1830 square feet. We currently heat/cool with the 5-ton geothermal unit which does a good job (no "emergency" heat strips installed)...except in times of power outages. Even though the geothermal system is energy efficient it still makes those electron$ spin the meter thus wearing out those precious bearings in it...and I'm *really* concerned about the wear on those shiny little pearls.

    Anyhow, I would really like to at least supplement the geothermal heating with wood heat to lower the electricity bill....doing away completely with the dependency on electricity for heat would be great but not necessarily the goal, and I like the idea of a backup heating system.

    For some reason I'm drawn to the Jotul line of stoves/inserts. Jotul seems to be a quality product and non-catalytic is a biggie for me. It appears, though, that Jotul carries a premium price. If there's another brand that would equal the Jotuls but maybe less expensive that would be great...I don't necessarily need an alligator on my shirt (but, I really do like those Jotuls :) ).

    The measurements in the pictures are for figuring out (of course) what will fit. The stoves that I'm looking eyeballing strongly are the F3CB and the Castine. I'm looking at the two smaller Jotul inserts.

    I have a question here...with an insert, if the power goes out how well do they heat with the blowers not working? Seems the stoves would definitely have an edge over the inserts.

    One last thing, and I'll be quiet...does either the Castine or the F3CB have the ability to be used as a cooktop for maybe frying up bacon and eggs?

    Well, that's about all of my uneducated mutterings this morning. I really would appreciate some feedback...I need all the help that I can get as it seems there is an absence of wood stove stores down my way.

    Take care (anybody wanta come mow my grass for me?),
    Ed



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    ETA: Added picture of chimney top, FWIW

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  2. dougand3

    dougand3 Minister of Fire

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    Welcome, Ed. Auburn did get a good snow last year - maybe south Bama hasn't heard about this global warming thingy? I'd ask Algore about it but he's getting a massage. Here's a good read: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/hoinsfs.htm
    With what you have, I'd be looking at hearth mount options. Personally, I don't want to depend on a blower - rather have radiant and/or convection principles in play.
  3. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Greetings Ed. Although the stove choices are nice, and I love Jotul products, I think you will find that the 27" height of the fireplace opening is going to prevent installation of a lot of the freestanding stoves out there. For this size house I would not go smaller than the Castine or a Hearthstone Shelburne, but they need a good 29-30" lintel height.

    The Jotul C450 is right sized, but it does tend to sit more flush as an insert than others. If the goal is to have a stove that heats even when the power is out, this becomes important. For that reason, I would suggest looking at the Lopi Revere and the Pacific Energy Super inserts. For hearth mount freestanding, Hearthstone makes the Homestead which should fit nicely there. But check the existing hearth construction carefully. This stove's hearth has a high R value requirement.
  4. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Wow, wow, wow....man it's HOT out there....just got through mowing roughly 3 acres of an Auburn experimental station (my yard, it's got a little bit of everything in it). The bahia grass is so tough from the mini-drought and the high heat that it looks like I took a hair brush to it.<sigh> Ah well, looks like a possible thunderstorm headin' this way so maybe it will wet things and cool things off a tad. Did I mention it was HOT out there? Yelp, gone bonkers...sittin' here drinking a cup of coffee...

    Oh well, if the lights don't go out here's a reply...

    Thanks for the feedback doughand3 and BeGreen. Doug, we did have a good snow down this way, too...it, of course, shut the area down...I think somebody measure 3-4 inches down here...the county was getting ready to pull the snowplows out but nobody could find them (we think the commissioners sold them off for scrap iron to buy more moonshine from the sheriff). Today, though, global warming was hitting on all two cylinders...did I mention it was HOT???

    Ok, enuff of my babblin',...on to the wood burner hunt....

    I would really like to have a stove rather than an insert, but practicality is a strong force within me (most of the time). I had looked at some of the Jotuls and was trying to figure out how to tell if they would fit or not. Some of them noted that the top of the (rear) flue would be under 27" (my lintel height) so I figured they *might* work. What I had figured on was if the "top of the flue" would clear the lintel that I might have the entire stove sitting in front of the fireplace rather than partially inside of it and only have the flue going into the fireplace's firebox area. I really need to figure out how to read the stove specs and interpret them into data that I can use.<sigh>

    Well, having looked at those suggestion you made BeGreen, I'm beginning to warm up to the Lopi Revere. Until now I haven't really placed steel stoves in the running. The cook top is a definite "plus" and it looks like it could very well heat the entire house. Thanks for pointing out the fact about some inserts being flush mounted and some not.

    I'm still trying to work out the clearances that I need. If you will notice, I have 10" of brick on either side of my firebox before a 4 1/2" deep cabinet side juts out into the room...this gives me a distance of 53 1/2 inches (10"+33.5"+10") between cabinet sides. The Lopi Revere states that it is 24 1/2" wide and calls for 15" of clearance to side walls which all together would be 54 1/2 inches. Looking at my dimensions I am an inch short....story of my life. Am I figuring this correctly? Does the 4 1/2" of cabinet side count as a "wall"?

    I'm also eyeballing the clearance to the mantel and the fact that I will probably need to build up the hearth because it appears I will need to extend it another 9" or so in front of the existing hearth. Extending it out will cause the hearth to raise in height which will lift the wood burner closer to the mantel and shorten the fireplaces opening.

    With no stores close by I'm sailing in uncharted waters for me. Seems like lots of angles to look at. <sigh>

    Ed
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Lopi makes good stoves. If it's any consolation, Jotul's inserts are steel with cast iron window dressing.

    Assuming the cabinet sides are combustible, they could be remedied with small, narrow side shields. I would have them made up at a sheet metal shop and paint them white. Attach them as wall shields, with metal standoffs. Keep the bottom 1" off the hearth and the top should stop 1" before the wood shelf lip so that the shield is open for air to circulate behind it freely. Have them bend one long edge in 1.5" so that it overlaps the cabinet corner for a more finished look.
  6. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    You're buying a stove in this heart? You must be crazy! Just look at the dog it's melted to the floor!

    The catalytic thing - At first I too was opposed to it, then I started earnestly shopping around and you can have them for $100. If it lasts three years, it's $30 bucks a year. Since you're in the warmer part of America, the catalytic might be worth your time checking out.
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    I've got to investigate the cabinet sides a bit more. At first I was thinking they were made from the same type of mortarboard as most of the walls are (mortarboard 60 years old and hard as a rock with a metal backing). I'm not so sure now, I'll check it out more. If the side is the mortarboard don' t I still need to be cautious about the paint? ...We're talking about 1/2" closer than specs call far on each side, but...violating this spec could impact warranty, insurance, etc.,...correct?

    From what I'm reading from your description I would want the shield mount against the brick coming out at a right angle to shield the side of the cabinet from the insert, extend out an inch beyond that wall, bend the metal to wrap around the corner and have a 1 1/2" lip to overhang the "front" of the cabinet. About right?

    Thanks for the feedback, I'm just feeling kind of overwhelmed...been decision, project here. :)
    Ed
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    The wall shield mounts on the cabinet side, not the brick. From the top, it would look like an L with one side being the depth of the cabinet (~4") and the L leg being a narrow 1.5".
  9. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    I ain't ever been accused of being "right in the head"...why risk it now? :) The heat has really be rather interesting down here, we're about 100 miles inland from the gulf coast and I'm really wondering if the oil disaster is influencing the climate. I've got lots of thoughts about all of that, but I'll leave it at that.

    As for the dog....ain't you ever seen a "HOT DOG"????? ...he'll be ok when we turn the a/c on.<grin>

    Ok, I really hasn't accepted the idea of a stove/insert that is designed to need a replacement part within a few years. I tend to think in a "long range" mindset where those parts *might not* be available. But, having said that....you've tweeked my interest by your comment about me living "in the warmer part of America". Seems in my haze of reading that the CAT stoves can be choked down more than a non-CAT and in doing so maybe not create as much cresote as the non-CAT would...???

    I appreciate all ya'll's feedback...trust me, I need it!
    Ed
  10. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    Don't feel overwhelmed. I came here a year ago talking about buying a jotul and putting in stovepipe and bouncing all sorts of ideas off people and I ended up buying a VC and completely switching out my ideas. A lot of it was simple conflict with my wife over the entire idea of burning something "dirty" like wood (she's never in the crawlspace for the oil burner exhaust). The other half was her persistant "easy to use" requirement since my macho neighbor and fishing buddy make wood burning out to be like the space shuttle, hence the catalyst idea.

    Just to expand on what BeGreen (he's incredibly helpful) said, the paint would count as a surface material and the requirement is that surface materials are noncombustable. If you're "framing in" a stove, 24ga or better sheet metal meets the requirements for noncombustable until you paint it. For the paint, look for either high temp stove paint made specifically for dealing with the heat, or if you're at your local auto parts shop the high temp paint (engine paint, brake paint) comes in a variety of colors.

    So going back to the idea of surface combustables versus assemblies, what I would do would be to hit up your local home building store and buy a roll of flashing and machine screws (typically the "stand offs" are machine threaded). The flashing can be cut with tin snips, and if you're like me you'll end up doing a terrible job and putting the side you cut towards the brick.

    I realize you're asking because you don't want to hurt the shelving, but why not simply bump the covered brick area back for the inch? Or is it that there's not brick under it?

    EDIT: Yes a cat stove can be choked down and not burn dirty moreso than a noncat stove if you're buying a quality stove. The catalytic can be poisoned by burning junk, but three years is the "worst case" my local stove store presented me with and it's probably closer to 10 years if you're being reasonable with the stove. (I'm sure there are people on here who will tell you they last forever and they probably do if you baby them). The cats show up on Amazon for $100 or so.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  12. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Would the gap between the edge of the shield and the brick need to be sealed or is just a snug "butted up against" fit be ok?

    The part of the shield that wraps around the front of the cabinet...it should be spaced the same as the side portion?

    I emailed a "local" company (about 75-80 miles from me) regarding working with me on the stove...hopefully I'll hear back from them today.

    Thanks for the help!
    Ed
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    No need to seal the gap where it meets the brick. The short leg of the shield that wraps to the front of the cabinet does not need the air gap. It should be flush with the cabinet for a better look.

    Actually it probably doesn't need the L leg at all if you don't like that look. It could just have the front edge bent in at a 45 so that it meets the corner of the cabinet. If you chose that style I would have them hem (fold over) the front edge for a cleaner look.
  14. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    The one inch air gap behind the shield is a fire code requirement which says it needs to be one inch away from the combustables. The sides I don't recall it mentioning but logically it seems to me that they should touch the brick in your situation. The top and bottom (to quote the code) should have "at least 50% of a one inch gap open for circulation".

    You're specifically asking about code requirements, at this point you probably want to check to make sure local codes aren't stricter than the national fire code.
  15. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Ditto with my wife. Just getting a little resistance...dirt issue, rearranging furniture to move her recliner further from the stove (she's normally the cold one...in the winter). Another BIG issue that both of us have is that we have a 3 1/2 year old granddaughter and another grand munchkin on the way...I'm mentioned to her that some folks build fences...

    I guess by "framing in" you mean installing heat shields if/where needed? Thanks for the tip on the flashing and heat paint...around here you can find somebody to weld and might find someone with a brake for bending aluminum roofing/siding...no real sheet metal shops so the heat shields may boil down to a d-i-y project.

    I'm pretty sure that there is brick under there, but I'm more sure that I'd bugger it up if I tried to knock it back. I think putting a shield there will work better...and if in the future I decide to do something different the cabinet should still be intact. Of course that Rancher 55 always enjoys a good workout...VROOOOM!!!! VROOOOOMMM!!!!!!...LOOKOUT HONEY!!!! I'VE GOT SOME REMODELING TO DO!!!!!! YEHAWWWWWW!!!!!! Oops, sorry about that, it just comes out sometimes....

    Thanks for the feedback on the cats. That was kind of what I was thinking. So then, a cat stove should do an overnight burn better than a non-cat? I'm still hedging on that. Seems I read an article the other day that it appears that manufacturers are beginning to drift away from the cat stoves simply by the increase of non-cat stove models and the decrease of cat models (this is according to the article...I have no idea if this is true or not).

    Thanks again for the feedback!
    Ed (loosing one brain cell at a time)
  16. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    So what I would suggest doing, since you sound really interested in the project, surf around and grab a bunch of stove manuals. Or even go to your stove shop and ask for them. I am building my hearth area so that I can put a just about any other stove on there. While it might require a different pad, the wall shields and clearances for my particular project are future proofed so I can put any other stove on there when this one dies. I sat down with every manual I could get my hands on and tried to make educated choices from there. It also helps to read the fire code and talk to your local codes inspector.

    With regards to the catalytic to noncatalytic debate, this is the stuff of endless internet debate. The cat stoves will burn more evenly and tend to be about 5% more efficient, but people get rubbed wrong at the idea of having to replace something. (I wonder if they change their own oil?) For reference, Jotul is noncatalytic, and people love them. Blaze King (http://www.blazeking.com/) produces amazingly long burn times and even heat, and they're catalytic (they're also the largest stove money can buy as far as I know). The Hearth.com knowledgebase suggests smaller stoves do better as noncats while larger stoves do better as catalytics: http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php/QA_Templates/info/687/

    My personal take on it after almost a year of discussing the project is that the replacement catalytics are easy to find (amazon.com), and as the technology gets better for making the chemistry buying a new cat upgrades the stove the same as putting the right exhaust system on your car helps squeeze more out of the engine.
  17. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    BeGreen, thanks for the drawing and feedback. You answered my questions even before I could ask the questions! That's pretty good! Your drawing explained things nicely

    I just mentioned to Tiber that there wasn't any sheet metal shops around here but then I had a "DUHHHH" moment and recalled vaguely that we put a metal roof on our house last year (I'm a really sharp blade in the drawer here). I'm sure they could make me these small shields for me, the only problem might be is that the heaviest roofing metal was 26 gauge...maybe they have some heavier (24 gauge) stuff used for other things. Definitely a place to check out. Who knows, they may even have metal already prepainted with heat resistance paint that would work.

    Yes, I think the 45* bend might work good.

    I think I have a pretty good idea about what to do about the sidewalls of the cabinets (thanks to ya'll), but what about the mantel? Does it look like there's enough clearance there? Remember that I'll be needing to extend the hearth out some so depending on what I use for hearth material it will decrease the available clearance some. Below are the clearances and firebox/fireplace dimensions required for the Revere.

    Thanks!
    Ed
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  18. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    I see 21 3/4"s clearance and they suggest 30" with a mantle shield.

    A mantle shield is the L shaped piece of metal we've been talking about: http://www.amazon.com/Copperfield-54110-HomeSaver-Mantel-Shield/dp/B001D1DU3O (for that price you can buy enough flashing to shield things twice over easily).

    However, even putting a shield on that you're probably going to have to raise it since the shielded clearance (30") is more than your mantle would be shielded. :(
  19. Wood Heat Stoves

    Wood Heat Stoves Minister of Fire

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    funny, the inflate list price to make thier "sale" seem better

    notes i added to our site
    •Angled lip is 2 3/4 inches wide, has a depth or "face" of 10"
    •Can be cut to size
    •Comes predrilled with Hardware and ready to mount
    •Allows a clearance reduction from 18" to 9" for Stovepipe
    •Allows a clearance reduction from 36" to 18" from the top of an unlisted stove. This refers to a stove that has not been thru laboratory safety testing like all modern stoves have been. This comes from the NFPA 211 National Fire Protection Association guidelines which are recognized by most building departments and may or may not be approved for reducing clearances in your situation. These standards have been used for years by putting sheet metal shields with a 1" air space on walls to reduce stove and stovepipe clearances and is a long standing recognized way to reduce radiant heat for closer clearances to combustibles.
  20. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Tiber, I hear you on the cat/non-cat debate....seems certain topics on different forums create good debate around the coffee cup. I've taken under consideration what you've said... It looks like for now I've gotta figure out my clearance issues.

    In looking at the specs for the Revere I'm beginning to think that my fireplace area might just be too cramped to squeeze a woodburner in.<sigh> If you look at the "Minimum Fireplace Size" table you'll notice that dimension "J" is stated as 49 1/4 inches from top of hearth to bottom of mantel. Figuring the height of my firebox at 27" and then the distance from the lintel to the bottom trim of the mantel being 21 3/4" then I've got a total height of 48 3/4" to work with.

    Isn't the table showing 22 1/2" with the shield?

    The manual says to measure from cook top surface, so measuring from stove top (18 3/4") to bottom part of mantel I arrive at:

    18 3/4" + 30 1/2" = 49.25" (without mantel shield)
    18 3/4" + 22 1/2" = 41.25" (with mantel shield)

    Knowing that I will be putting down some type of hearth/pad my 48 3/4" height will be reduced a bit. A half inch?...inch?...two inches? Without this added thickness I already don't have enough clearance for the insert without a mantel shield, but it looks like I would have enough clearance using the shield even with the decreased clearance from adding the hearth/pad. Am I figuring this correctly???

    Of course (if my cipherin' is correct) this will mean another heat shield. Is it common to have heat shields surrounding stoves/inserts? I'd rather not have my living room beginning to look like a World's Fair sheet metal display, but....

    Thanks,
    Ed
  21. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Finding someone around here who even knows *if* we have a local code, much less an inspector will be a job in itself. I live in a rural area, but even the local town has just in the last few years gotten a building inspector...though they've been charging for building permits for decades (aren't permits supposed to used to pay the inspector?).

    Anyhow, I'll see what the state fire code is...probably the same as the federal code.

    Ed
  22. tiber

    tiber New Member

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    OK by my math, you have 48.75 inches with the dressing under the main beam there, and 50.75 inches if you take the woodworking out from under the mantle shelf. So if your clearances are 49.25 inches for a masonry fireplace. Would the one inch make a difference? Probably don't want to risk it. However you're in the clear if you get rid of the woodworking under the shelf and that diagram you posted is true.

    Anyway, sounds like you're in the same boat I am - I have a fireplace but the room it's in is a small den, and more on the point the firebox is so small it really wouldn't be useful. That's why I've got a standalone stove I'm doing up in the livingroom: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/56441/
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    26 ga will work ok, 24ga would be nicer but it won't shield the heat any better. It will just be stiffer and less vulnerable to dings. You are right on the cusp for a mantle shield. You could try running without one and monitor the mantle temp, but I would go ahead and have one made up. The same shop could make up another shield just like the sides for above the stove. Paint it black so that it doesn't stand out. Or maybe they might have some dark brown roofing metal.
  24. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Yelp, I'm just a hair shy of what I need for the mantel. I guess I'd have to install a heat shield for the mantel. How would one of these be built? The link you gave above showing the mantel shield shows an "L" piece of metal. How is it attached? I'm beginning to wonder if it might not work better to simply build a surround/alcove for the insert out of a non-combustible material.

    I'm beginning to come around full circle back to a stove, too. With the clearance issues I've thought about downsizing the heater to the Jotul F100. Small heater, I know, but I'm down here in south Alabama. This past winter we had the coldest winter in a *long* time...actually had a week or two where night time temps were constantly down in the 20's and upper teens...down here nobody plans for cold, freezing weather....folks scurry about wrapping pipes and faucets, leaving water dripping, etc.,. Rarely is freezing temps more than a few nights in a row...this past winter was an exception. The F 100 is basically stated as an "up to 1000 square feet" heater which would heat the major portion of the house and the area that we frequent the most...two bedrooms could be closed off with no problem. Maybe a smaller heater would work for us...just thinking (I really tend to cause chaos when I do that).

    I checked out your thread on your install...looking good. You're way past me Hopefully I can get something started before long....if nothing else at least decide on a unit, plan of action, etc.,....I would really like to purchase in the next few weeks to be the fall "rush".

    I've still gotta address the chimney issue, too. I'm planning on going the flexible ss route...just gotta figure out how to seal the chimney off, if I will use a fresh air supply, what cap to use, etc., etc.,... At least all the plotting and planning keeps my mind off the impending grunion invasion.

    Ed
  25. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    I'm thinking the place where I bought the roofing handles heavier gauge metal for metal sided buildings. I'll check it out when the time comes. I'll probably see how the mantel does without the shield at first, but it does have a lip around the bottom that creates a "cup" area that could collect and hold the heat...in other words the bottom is not flush out to the edge.

    I was figuring on painting the shields on the cabinets white to match the cabinets but I might try it in black first to see how it matches the mantel shield. Thanks for the continued feedback.

    Ed

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