How to Make a Hearth Pad

Lacy Enderson

A wood burning stove often sits on a hearth pad. This pad must be fire resistant and able to withstand the weight of the stove. The hearth pad can be as simple as a metal shield or even a concrete slab, but the stove must sit on a non-combustible surface.

Make a Hearth Pad

If you sit your stove on carpet, wood, vinyl or some other combustible material, the heat from the stove can damage, and even worse, ignite the floor materials. A hearth pad, if made well, can add beauty to your home. Once the hearth pad is built, you can decorate it with tile or brick.

  1. Place your stove onto a piece of 1/2 inch cement backer board. Measure the dimensions of the backer board so there is at least 16 inches that extends out from the stove in the front and on both sides. This will center the stove. Larger hearths are suggested for allowing room for wood storage and reloading the firebox. Cut the backer board with a utility knife.

  2. Cut out equal dimensions from a 3/4 inch piece of plywood or subfloor with a circular saw. The plywood serves as the backing for the backer board. It is the subfloor that sits on the ground.

  3. Nail the cement backer board on top of the plywood with 8-penny nails.

  4. Apply a layer of cement or mortar, with a trowel, onto the cement board and apply tile. Cut the tile to size with a tile cutter. Set the tiles right into the wet cement using spacers between them to leave enough space for grout. Let them dry overnight.

  5. Apply grout into all joints and seams with a rubber grout tool. Wipe up any excess grout with a spatula and a utility sponge. Apply a clear liquid sealer to the grout after it dries.

  6. Nail a 1-by-3 MDF board as a trim all the way around the perimeter of the hearth pad. Nail it to the plywood with 8-penny nails.

  7. Tip

    If you are not using some type of mortar or adhesive, the city requires a piece of 24 gauge sheet metal to be placed between the cement backer board and the subfloor to keep any hot embers from burning their way into the plywood and starting a fire. Two good backer boards are Wonderboard and Durock.


    When you are looking for an ideal cement board to make your hearth pad, it must have a low K factor. This means that a low amount of heat is conducted through the material.