The Worst Floors for a Wood Stove
If you were to drop a lit match on a wood, linoleum or carpeted floor, you would be quick to pick up the match and hope it didn’t leave a burn mark. Keep that simple example in mind when you think about flooring materials to put under a wood-burning stove. At 900 to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, the wood logs inside of the firebox of the stove are just getting started. So imagine how hot the bottom of the stove gets, and why using the wrong flooring materials is extremely risky.
Whether it’s the hardiest plank of Canadian maple, teak or ebony, there is no wood species suitable for flooring under a wood stove. All you have to do is look inside of the firebox of the stove itself to get an idea of what can happen to a wood floor if a fire were to start in your home. Sparks and embers can be sizeable enough to have you reaching for a bucket of water, and a fallen log from the firebox could spell disaster. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) recommends a minimum 18-inch clearance on the front and sides of a stove from combustible materials. However, to keep your home and family safe, keep wood materials even further away.
Laminate is just as bad as wood, and in some regards even worst. Laminates are treated with chemicals, and the top layer that makes the surface look like wood is actually made or a durable photographic paper. The combination of adhesives, paper, wood and chemical products create a highly flammable cocktail of combustible materials that should never be used under a wood stove.
Bamboo is a popular, eco-friendly choice for many floors in a home, however, the floor underneath a wood stove is not one of them. When bamboo is harvested, it undergoes a carbonization process to transform it into useable material for flooring. During the process, it loses about 20 percent of its hardness. These properties do not deter from bamboo’s performance or attractiveness elsewhere in the home. But bamboo will go up in smoke even faster than hardwood if used underneath a wood stove.
Vinyl and Linoleum
Vinyl and linoleum flooring materials are all man-made and composed of synthetic products. As a result, they are highly flammable, can burn readily, and would be extremely hazardous to place underneath a wood stove. Even a small fallen ember can burn through vinyl and linoleum almost immediately and leave a burn mark. The heat on the bottom of the stove might even transfer to the floor, and in time could get hot enough to melt the material and start a fire.
If there were a “best of the worst” list of materials not to put under a wood stove, carpeting would be at the top of the list. Carpeting is an all-fiber material that ignites easy, burns rapidly, spreads fire and disintegrates. Most carpeting also contains synthetic fibers that are highly flammable. The combination of fibers and synthetic materials can create poisonous byproducts if they were to catch fire. Even carpeting or area rugs used in the same room as the wood stove should be kept several feet away.
Cheryl Munson has been writing since 1990, with experience as a writer and creative director in the advertising industry. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a focus on advertising from the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
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