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Tips for Building a Hearth for a Wood Stove

Best Quality Wood StovesHomeowners on the search for premium wood stoves can find a large selection of quality wood burning stoves at their local UFS member hearth store. From top-of-the-line luxury models, to best value wood stoves, customers will find exactly what they need to meet their needs.

Modern wood stoves are far superior to those in former times for several reasons. They are highly efficient. Models are available with efficiency ratings as high as 80%; compare that with a traditional masonry fireplace, which has only about 10% efficiency. Stoves today come in other materials besides cast iron. You can choose from wood stoves made with soapstone, cast iron, and steel; they are even available in different colors. Wood stoves are fitting for rustic décor as well as contemporary, traditional and modern. No doubt, a wood stove could ideally grace and provide warmth for just about any home. One of the important steps to enjoying a wood stove in your home is to make sure it has a hearth that is up to applicable building codes. To ensure safety, hiring a professional is always a good idea. But as long as manufacturer’s directions and building codes are strictly adhered to, a do-it-yourselfer should not have any problems building a hearth.

There are numerous considerations which determine the construction of your hearth. The number one objective is to make sure your home is protected from a fire. The type of hearth you need depends on the particular type of good stove to be installed; the code requirements for all hearths are not the same.


Functions of a Hearth for a Wood Stove

In addition to protecting combustible floors and walls from the heat which radiates from the wood stove, the hearth establishes a protective area for the times when you open the wood stove door and heated sap pops out or when hot embers may fall to the floor.

Hearth Size and Clearance Requirements

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 211 includes detailed clearance requirements for the installation of untested and unlisted wood burning stoves, including the following:

  • The stovepipe must be at least 36 inches from combustible ceilings and walls.
  • Most wood stoves are required to be at least 36 inches from combustible ceilings and walls.

Untested and unlisted stoves are typically older wood burning stoves that have no information from the manufacturer regarding safe installation clearances to combustibles.  Today, stoves from all reputable manufacturers will have specific clearance requirements listed in the owner’s manual and labelled on the back of the appliance for a safe installation.

There may also be local building code requirements which should be met, including specifications for the overall size of the hearth.

Hearth Design

Premium Wood StovesAs long as you meet or exceed the clearance requirements, the design and shape of your hearth is up to you.  A raised hearth, a hearth built in a corner or a hearth built out from a wall are all options, dependng on where you plan to install the stove.

Type 1 vs. Type 2 Floor Protection

Some wood burning stoves require protection from sparks and embers only.  Others require additional thermal protection from the radiated heat from the appliance.

A Type 1 hearth complies with requirements for ember protection only, that is some non-combustible material on the floor to protect it against embers and sparks that pop out of the stove.

A type 2 hearth complies with the ember protection requirements and also adds an insulative R-value to prevent intense radiant heat from overheating the floor beneath the hearth.

All UFS dealers have beautiful pre-made hearth pads that comply with today’s Type 1 and Type 2 safety standards.

Hearths that are built-in are made from brick, tile, slate, rock or stone.

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