Wood-burning stoves are heavy heating or cooking appliances complete with metal fireboxes and vents to allow proper air circulation. They are very efficient because they trap the heat inside, rather than losing it up a chimney, as is common with a standard fireplace. But without a proper wall shield, woodstoves can become dangerous.
Woodstove wall shields are thick sheets of steel that protect the surrounding walls from the heat of the firebox. Since woodstoves retain heat and are fireproof, the walls around them can become fire hazards if they’re not protected. Wall shields are needed if the stove is closer than 900mm (35.4 inches) to the wall.
In this article, we’ll get into the details about woodstove wall shields, their installation, materials, clearance, and everything there is to know about them. If you are interested in learning about other parts of the fireplace and chimney, check out this article.
Do I Need a Heat Shield Behind a Wood Stove?
Wood-burning stoves produce a lot of heat. As a result, all nearby combustibles (things that can catch fire easily), including wooden walls, curtains, or drywall, are in danger of being damaged.
That’s where woodstove wall shields come in.
Heat shields are needed behind wood stoves to keep the heat and soot from ruining and possibly burning your walls, floors, and other combustibles. Wood-burning stoves radiate a lot of heat from all sides, and if the stove is close enough, it can cause paint to bubble and peel off or burns to appear on the walls.
In addition, if there are issues with your flooring, a woodstove can worsen it. For example, placing a wood-burning stove on cheap floorboards without a heat shield will likely result in the floor warping and even burning over time.
The best way to avoid these damages is to install a wall shield to protect your insulation and drywall from being overworked by the intense heat of a wood-burning stove.
Woodstove Wall Shield Features
Most wall shields are made from thick metal sheets. They need to be thick to properly and adequately absorb the heat and prevent it from damaging the wall behind. They can be standalone shields or the kind you attach directly to the wall shield.
However, some companies make heat-resistant ceramic or slate tiles that allow for a more decorative finish.
Here are some key features of a woodstove wall shield:
- Wall shields are made from high-quality, fire-resistant materials, often with insulated interiors. This keeps your home warm while blocking the heat coming from the stove.
- The wall shield can be installed in minutes and requires no tools for installation. You can even do it yourself if you have some basic DIY skills and follow the manufacturer’s guide.
- Many shields have a smooth, non-reflective finish. That makes them easy to blend into your home’s décor without being too noticeable.
Woodstove Wall Shield Installation and Clearance
Woodstove wall shields are easy to install, and they don’t require any special tools or skills.
Let’s take a look at one of the most common and inexpensive options and see how easy it is to install. These types of shields attach to the back of your wood stove using mounts and can be removed easily.
If you decide to purchase a woodstove wall shield, there are some tools that you will need to install it properly:
- Tape measure
- Drill and drill bits
- Woodstove wall shield (metal or wood)
- Woodstove wall shield installation instructions
We also compiled a brief, general list of things to do when installing your wall shield.
Here’s how to do it the right way:
- Measure the wall shield to ensure it fits properly. They are usually made out of a piece of fireproof metal about 2 feet by 3 feet (0.6 meters by 0.91 meters). If you have a smaller wood stove, a standard shield will do. You can also purchase a larger shield to protect both sides of the wall at once.
- Measure the height and width of your existing wood stove and wall and mark it on the shield using a pencil. You can use an old ruler as well, but make sure not to use one that has any markings on it because those could scratch off over time.
- Drill a hole in the body of the shield using a drill and drill bits. This may be more difficult with a metal wall shield, but they’re the most durable.
- Screw the shield onto the wall. It’s best to use longer screws than short ones. Longer screws are easier to remove if you ever want to take them off later.
- Ensure that the wall shield fits properly before you screw it down. You can always move it around if it doesn’t fit.
Wall shields are available in a variety of sizes and shapes. They can be custom-made to fit your home’s exact dimensions or purchased in standard sizes that will work with most homes.
Clearances for a Woodstove
The size of your woodstove wall shield depends on the size of the stove and its location.
If you have a small woodstove, you’ll need a small shield. If you have a large stove, you’ll need a large shield.
The same goes for placement: if you’re placing your woodstove in an area that gets hot (like near an oven), you’ll need a larger shield and some space around it to accommodate the heat.
Here are a few measurements you’ll want to keep in mind:
- The stove should be placed at least 36 inches (91.44 cm) away from the nearest combustible material.
- The stove should be placed at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) away from the wall or ceiling of your home.
- The stove should be placed at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) away from any wooden structure or furniture within your home.
- The stove should be placed at least 18 inches (45.72 cm) away from any wall or wooden structure covered with drywall.
- The stove should be placed at least 36 inches (91.44 cm) away from the nearest window in your home.
Heat Shield Materials
Usually, woodstove wall shields are at least 12mm (0.47 inch) thick and are solid steel sheets designed to be mounted on the inside of your wall.
Although we have many different types of wall shields, the most common are steel or aluminum. The main difference between the two materials is that steel is more durable and less expensive, while aluminum is lighter and pricier.
Steel wall shields are the most popular as they can withstand heat without melting or burning.
Aluminum wall shields are made from aluminum sheets that have been welded together. They are lightweight and easy to install.
Can Cement Boards Be Used as a Heat Shield?
Cement boards are a cement-based product used in construction to build walls. They are made of cement, reinforcing fibers, and water compressed into flat sheets.
Cement boards can be used as heat shields as they can withstand high temperatures. Regular cement tends to degrade under high temperatures, but enhanced products, such as those from HardieBacker®, DUROCK®, PermaBASE®, and others promise decent performance against heat.
Traditionally, concrete has never been a suitable fireproof material withstanding heat as it starts degrading at 65 – 93 °C (150 – 200 °F). Therefore, consistent exposure to high temperatures from hot flames produced by your wood stove would quickly dry out the water in the concrete and degrade its integrity.
If not well insulated, a cement board will meet the same fate in time. So, if you plan on using cement boards as heat shields for your woodstove, be sure to check that the manufacturer recommends such use. Also, ensure that you have installed sufficient insulation in the walls first.
Protecting your walls from soot and dirt buildup will extend the life of your paint and make it easier to clean.
A quality wood stove wall shield will go a long way towards reducing the amount of dust and dirt accumulating on your walls, protecting against soot stains and mildew, and keeping debris from falling into your house.
Further, they’re needed when the woodstove is close enough to the wall to cause fire damage.