A wood-burning stove is an excellent addition to every home. Smaller than a fireplace, it gives you much better placement options. And compared to a fireplace, it is a much cheaper option.
Wood-burning stoves truly shine in winter. Building a fire during this season transforms your living room into a cozy and relaxing haven, making your entire home feel special.
But wood-burning stoves have one drawback. Unlike fireplaces, they don’t come up with built-in insulation. You can’t just press it against the first wall you find. The heat it radiates can damage the wall, even if it doesn’t burst into flames.
In this article, we’ll tell you what to put behind a wood-burning stove. Our neat ideas are both beautiful and practical. With them, your home will be both safe and cozy.
You should always place something behind your wood-burning stove
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A wood stove lacks the natural insulation of a fireplace. Apart from the metal body, nothing stands between the fire and your wall. Metal is an excellent heat conductor. It only makes sense, since the whole point of a wood stove is to generate heat. But while heat radiation is necessary to warm up your room, it can be harmful to the wall behind.
Heat makes nearby objects more flammable
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Sitting directly in front of your wood-burning stove will quickly become uncomfortable. The stove itself can reach dangerously high temperatures that can set nearby combustible materials aflame. They don’t even need to come into direct contact to light up. Thus, you shouldn’t put flammable objects near your wood-burning stove.
It can break down nearby objects
Image source: Bensonwood
Even if your decorations don’t burst into flame, they can still break down. This is called pyrolysis, a process during which certain materials degrade due to high temperatures. It is a slow process and it can be months before you notice anything. But once the damage is done, it’s irreparable.
Some wall materials don’t handle heat well
Image source: Rauser Design
Not all wall materials are the same. For instance, you shouldn’t even think about installing wallpaper behind a wood-burning stove. As you may already know, wallpapers tend to peel off when subjected to heat. If you already have wallpaper installed, consider removing it to avoid this issue altogether.
Image source: MLB Design Group
Plaster is another material that doesn’t go with wood-burning stoves. Over time, it will crack and break, leaving you with holes in your wall.
And lastly, you should stay away from drywall when you design the wall behind your wood-burning stove. Although it doesn’t crack, it’s very flammable.
What to put behind a wood-burning stove? 4 best materials
Before we get to the ideas themselves, let’s look at your material options. By now, you should know that you can’t use any combustible material when decorating the space behind your wood stove. But what can you use?
Most of the ideas on our list can come in multiple materials. Here’s what they are:
- Fire-resistant plastic
Image source: Taylored Interior Design & Construction
Metal is a great material choice for modern-style homes. Our personal favorite is stainless steel. Not only does it resist corrosion but it’s also incredibly easy to clean. It’s also one of the cheapest options on this list.
Image source: Scarlett
Alternatively, you can go with copper. Though it’s slightly less durable, the golden sheen works well in traditional-style homes.
Keep in mind that you can’t stuff metal directly into a wall as this defeats the purpose of the insulation. Use ceramic spacers to allow for air ventilation.
Image source: KraftMaster Renovations
Bricks and tiles are the traditional materials when it comes to building fireplaces. It’s thus no surprise that people use them to insulate their wood-burning stoves. They come in different shapes and textures, which makes them a very versatile option.
However, they can be tough to install if you’ve never tried it before. You’ll likely need help from a professional. They’re not the cheapest option either.
Image source: The Stove Shop Fireplace Center
Stone is a perfect material to protect the wall behind your wood stove. It’s an ideal choice for homes with rustic and naturalist styles. In terms of effectiveness, it’s similar to bricks and tiles.
But just like bricks and tiles, it can be a very expensive option.
Image source: Shannon Malone
Special types of plastic resist heat and do not melt even when exposed to high temperatures. This makes them an excellent material to put behind your wood-burning stove. It also gives you a lot of freedom when it comes to color and texture.
While it isn’t as durable as the previous options, it’s much more economical.
What to put behind a wood-burning stove?
Firebacks are great for protecting your walls
Image source: Concorde Distributing – Fireplaces
Firebacks are large metal sheets placed behind a wood-burning stove. Commonly made of cast iron, they act as a shield between the stove and the wall behind. Apart from protection, they also provide great insulation. They make the heat radiate forward, making your stove much more effective at warming up your room.
Install a faux panel behind your wood-burning stove
Image source: Louise Lakier
Faux panels are excellent heat shields for protecting the wall behind your wood stove. They’re typically made of fire-resistant materials such as low-density foam and plastic. This makes them perfect for insulating your stove.
Image source: Scarlett
The beauty of faux panels lies in their easy installation. Once you cut them up to your desired shape, you just attach them to the wall with adhesive backing. They’re not heavy, meaning anyone can handle installing them.
The one drawback of faux panels is their durability. Compared to bricks and stones, they’re not nearly as resilient.
Use a raised hearth
Image source: Franklin Fireplace
A raised hearth is one of the most effective insulation options. Unlike firebacks and heat shields, it protects both the wall and floor. A raised hearth is a very versatile option in terms of aesthetics. It comes in several materials, giving you much more creative freedom than other options.
You can also experiment with the dimensions of your raised hearth. Thus, it is perfect for rooms of all sizes.
Set your wood-burning stove inside an alcove
Image source: Veronica Rodriguez Interior Photography
If you don’t know what to put behind a wood-burning stove, you don’t have to use anything. Instead, you can set the entire wood burner inside an alcove to create a neat flat wall. Of course, this idea only works if your home already comes with one.
Once you line up the inner sides of the alcove with fire-resistant materials, you’ll have your own makeshift fireplace in your living room. You have many materials to choose from, from brick to slate.
Place a heat shield behind your wood-burning stove
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A wood stove heat shield is one of the surest ways to insulate the wall behind. A heat shield is typically made of two perpendicular panels, protecting both your wall and floor. It’s commonly made of carbon foam and carbon composite, making it perfect to insulate wood stoves. It can be made of other heat-resistant materials as well.
Image source: Direct Stove
Although some models are pure black, you can find various textures and designs if you search hard enough.
The only drawback of heat shields is their installation. If you’re not keen on DIY, you should leave it to a professional. It shouldn’t be stacked too close to a wall, to allow for air ventilation.
Place your wood-burning stove in the middle of your room
Image source: Ellen Cassilly Architect
This is a great alternative if you don’t want to place anything behind your wood-burning stove. Placing it in the middle of your room creates a Scandinavian style, giving your room much more character. It also warms up your room evenly since no nearby object saps the heat.
What to put behind a wood-burning stove? Our final thoughts
Although you may be tempted to just ram your wood-burning stove against a wall, this isn’t a good idea. The heat it generates will damage it over time, leaving you with expensive repair costs to cover. Luckily, you can avoid them by buying a heat shield or other forms of insulation.
If you don’t know what to put behind a wood-burning stove, consider one of the ideas on your list. We’ve created it to cater to all your needs, regardless of what style your home uses. Thus, you’re bound to find the perfect match for your living room.
If you liked this article about what to put behind a wood burning stove, you should check out this article about fireplace hearth.