Granite Wall Shield

Building a cottage from the ground up can be very costly. The Dekkema clan is always looking to cut costs without sacrificing quality, design and originality, and one of the initiatives we are most proud of is the installation of a granite wall and floor shield behind and underneath our woodstove for the cost of a few screws and spacers.

"We need something functional that would meet the inspection, and prevent our cottage from burning down when we lit the wood stove," laughs Rene de Vries, one of the cabin co-owners. "I thought it would cost a lot of money, but I was wrong."

A friend of the family who works as a contractor donated some leftover granite slabs. You may not be so fortunate to have one of these resourceful friends, but there is another way. Granite shops have roughly cut remnants that are too small for builders to work with, so they sell for a fourth or fifth of the usual cost. You can use them exactly as they are. The jagged edges work well with cottage style, and the granite behind and underneath don't necessarily have to match.

Principles Behind the Design

Woodstoves must be installed a safe distance from combustible walls. This distance varies depending on the stove model. Some newer ones require less space because they have built-in heat shields, and some older models require more. Either way, this distance can be reduced by installing a highly heat resistant shield.

The key is to allow airflow behind the shield. There must be at least 2 inches between the shield and the wall, as well as space between the bottom of the wall shield and the floor. The heat from the stove warms the air behind the shield, causing air to rise. The cooler air from the bottom then replaces the rising warm air.

The base is used as a heat shield and as floor protection from live embers. Some older woodstove models give off a lot of heat from the bottom, while some newer ones with built-in shields produce very little heat. We wanted our woodstove installation to take up as little floor space as possible, which we accomplished by using granite.

Always follow the manufacturer's instructions. You'll also need to check with your building codes and a fireplace expert. Your insurance carrier will need to be informed of your woodstove installation.

What You'll Need

  1. Enough screws to secure the granite to the wall. We used four screws with caps, plus eight screws for the spacers.
  2. Noncombustible spacers. We used two metal drywall spacers. They are hollow and allow airflow to keep the wall cool.
  3. An electric drill and a drill bit to go through granite.
  4. A slab of granite for the base. You'll have to measure your stove to be sure the granite you choose meets at least the minimum clearance requirements. Our woodstove is an older model. We used a sheet of granite large enough for a clearance of 8 in. around three sides, and 18 in. in front of the door.
  5. A slab of granite for the wall: The size of the wall protection needed will depend on the local building codes and/or the owner's manual of your woodstove. We used a sheet of granite that is approximately 4 X 5 feet. Though we wanted ours to hang on an angle (as pictured), you may prefer to use a leveller if you want your granite to hang straight.
  6. Two small granite blocks.

Installing the Shields

For the base, simply place the granite base on the floor where you want your stove to be. You don't have to secure the granite to the floor. The weight of the stove will keep it there. The base is done.

For the wall, mount the spacers vertically, several inches off the floor, and screw them into studs on the wall behind where the woodstove will be. Place two granite blocks on the floor against the wall, directly underneath the spacers. Have two people pick up the wall granite, and rest it on the bricks and against the spacers. You will need one person to hold the granite in place, and one to drill through the granite into the spacers. Install the woodstove on top of the base granite according to the owner's manual.

And now it's time to light your fire, sit back and enjoy your practical work of art for years to come. 

by Glenda Dekkema

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