Wood burning stoves are homey, gorgeous and practical ways to heat your home, but they can be a fire hazard without proper precautions. A heat shield can decrease the risk of fire by reducing the amount of clearance space the stove needs to be operated safely.
Here’s what you need to know and what options are available.
Safety Precautions and Regulations
The National Fire Protection Association requires at least 36 inches separating the stove from combustible walls, furniture and other items, but this distance can be reduced by protecting your walls with a non-combustible heat shield. With such a shield, you can reduce the separating space to a range of merely 18 to 12 inches, though for safety you'll still need to keep the shield a few inches away from combustible surfaces since the shield material may become very hot while the stove is being used.
To deal with this, you can buy ceramic spacers from a wood stove supply store to protect your wall from the heat shield. Then, to install the heat shield, use a drill to attach the spacers to the wall and your heat shield to the other side of the spacers.
The manufacturer of your wood stove will likely include installation instructions that include all necessary safety precautions. If these instructions are unclear, you should seek out the assistance of a professional.
Sheet metal is possibly the easiest heat shield material since metal is a cheap and effective conductor of heat and there are many prefab metal heat shields that can be bought and assembled with minimal construction. You can also buy 28-gauge sheet metal and make a shield yourself.
Stainless steel is the most common material here and, like in the kitchen, is easy to clean. Make sure, however, that you protect your walls with ceramic spacers.
Brick and Stone
Exposed brick and stone are beautiful, trendy and good heat shields to boot. Metal heats up quickly and holds onto it, but masonry absorbs heat and releases it slowly, keeping temperatures safe for your home.
These are durable, eco-friendly materials, but they can be more expensive than metal and time-consuming to assemble.
Tile shields work the same way as brick and stone do, but installation can be as simple as covering a cement board with ceramic floor tiles using heat-resistant epoxy mortar. Like with other types of heat shields, you’ll use ceramic spacers in between the board and the wall.