Who here has removed a pre-fab and built and alcove?

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

PDutro

New Member
Sep 26, 2021
33
Oregon
I am preparing to tear out an old defunct prefab and build an alcove. It sits in the middle of the home, and given the dimensions of the wall I should be able to get about 29” of depth and probably 58” width for the alcove.

Just trying to collect some experience from anyone who has done a similar project.

What can I expect to find when I start ripping open the wall and pulling the pre-fab out? Any advice prior to starting that might be helpful?

Attached are a couple pics of my prefab and chase, and some pics of the direction I want to go with it.

53817035-75E0-4DC2-A7D1-0652BC174F3A.jpeg 51D36B65-0E12-4E9F-B6AC-EDFE33BD5E01.jpeg 08F57004-8708-4716-A9B9-DCC25BFFA716.jpeg 8576F8AC-1E01-4A1F-9E96-C9A35C0D62E0.jpeg B5C16C5C-E5C7-4F3C-A461-D97734AF4C63.jpeg
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,618
South Puget Sound, WA
I assisted friends building one last year that was in place of a ZC fireplace. If the ZC was installed correctly you will find a framed box, that enclosed the fireplace with a header at about chest level. With the header removed, it is not unlike a closet.

This is not the greatest shot, the stove was in service at the time. They lined the cavity with sheet steel on spacers with a 1" air gap behind.

siobhan T6 alcove.jpg

There are several past threads showing this process and the finished work. Have you seen them?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Riteway

PDutro

New Member
Sep 26, 2021
33
Oregon
Yeah, I’ve searched a bunch and read through a number of them. It’s been a good start but I haven’t come across any that showed the process in a way that I felt provided the kind of insight I was hoping for. I’ll keep searching, though to see if I can find the ones you’re

I really like the finish of the one you did here.

Did you hang the sheet steel? This allowed for reduction of clearances by 30% or so?

As far as the header, that can just be removed and the alcove framed with 2x4’s? It’s not a load-bearing beam?
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,147
central pa
Yeah, I’ve searched a bunch and read through a number of them. It’s been a good start but I haven’t come across any that showed the process in a way that I felt provided the kind of insight I was hoping for. I’ll keep searching, though to see if I can find the ones you’re

I really like the finish of the one you did here.

Did you hang the sheet steel? This allowed for reduction of clearances by 30% or so?

As far as the header, that can just be removed and the alcove framed with 2x4’s? It’s not a load-bearing beam?
Allot of your questions will only be answered when you open up your wall. It all depends how the person who framed it chose to do things.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,618
South Puget Sound, WA
Yeah, I’ve searched a bunch and read through a number of them. It’s been a good start but I haven’t come across any that showed the process in a way that I felt provided the kind of insight I was hoping for. I’ll keep searching, though to see if I can find the ones you’re

I really like the finish of the one you did here.

Did you hang the sheet steel? This allowed for reduction of clearances by 30% or so?

As far as the header, that can just be removed and the alcove framed with 2x4’s? It’s not a load-bearing beam?
I didn't do the work, just provided technical support in stove selection, clearance requirements, etc. Clearance reductions will only drop down to 12" unless the mfg. has specified lower clearance in the stove's documentation. Peace of mind was important to this family so they exceeded specs with their installation.
The header over the ZC is just supporting the studs above it and maybe flat-faced to support a mantel.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,618
South Puget Sound, WA
Allot of your questions will only be answered when you open up your wall. It all depends how the person who framed it chose to do things.
So true. For example, our neighbors found that the exterior chase was completely uninsulated and had no fire stop at the second floor level.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bholler

PDutro

New Member
Sep 26, 2021
33
Oregon
I didn't do the work, just provided technical support in stove selection, clearance requirements, etc. Clearance reductions will only drop down to 12" unless the mfg. has specified lower clearance in the stove's documentation. Peace of mind was important to this family so they exceeded specs with their installation.
The header over the ZC is just supporting the studs above it and maybe flat-faced to support a mantel.


To adhere to ceiling height clearances we’d either not have a mantle or install a non-combustible one later. I believe most wood stoves I am looking at need around 83” from floor to ceiling in an alcove.
 

PDutro

New Member
Sep 26, 2021
33
Oregon
Allot of your questions will only be answered when you open up your wall. It all depends how the person who framed it chose to do things.
Any chance when I open it up I’ll find a configuration that wouldn’t permit me to build an alcove?

I can’t imagine that there would be a load-bearing design around a pre-fab insert that couldn’t be reconfigured, but then again it’s a 1970’s house...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,618
South Puget Sound, WA
To adhere to ceiling height clearances we’d either not have a mantle or install a non-combustible one later. I believe most wood stoves I am looking at need around 83” from floor to ceiling in an alcove.
That's common. If the ceiling is lower, it needs to be 100% non-combustible.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
26,147
central pa
Any chance when I open it up I’ll find a configuration that wouldn’t permit me to build an alcove?

I can’t imagine that there would be a load-bearing design around a pre-fab insert that couldn’t be reconfigured, but then again it’s a 1970’s house...
Not really it's all just framing I don't see how it could prevent you from making an alcove.

And I’m okay with a high opening, but any header would need to not be load bearing, right?
A header is going to be load bearing to some extent. You will need to be able to determine if it's safe to remove temporarily without addition support or not. In most cases it can be but we can't tell you that.
 

PDutro

New Member
Sep 26, 2021
33
Oregon
Not really it's all just framing I don't see how it could prevent you from making an alcove.


A header is going to be load bearing to some extent. You will need to be able to determine if it's safe to remove temporarily without addition support or not. In most cases it can be but we can't tell you that.
Thanks for the help, I appreciate it.