Combustibles distance - How much space to leave around a wood burner?

Safety should be your first priority when installing any appliance in the home but none more so than with a wood burning or multi-fuel stove. Freestanding stoves can be installed almost anywhere in the home, but you will need to consider its proximity to other surfaces and objects in the room before going ahead. Building regulations stipulate strict minimum distances between a stove and its surroundings to reduce the risk of household fires and therefore protect property and its inhabitants. Each individual stove will come with pre-approved measurements that your fitter will refer to when recommending the right design for your home setting.

Keep everyday household Items clear

Everyday household surfaces also pose increased fire risks if the heat from a stove comes in to contact with combustible materials. Combustibles include plastic, wood and wood-based products, textiles such as curtains, carpet and upholstery and plasterboard, all of which are common in the home environment.

If you don't need to have to a hearth as thick as the one shown here with the Hardy 5 above, you could still embrace this post-modern/rustic look for your home.

Choose the right hearth

Starting from the ground up, you will need to place your stove on a non-combustible hearth, be it stone or toughened glass, with a minimum thickness of 12mm. In terms of the distance between the stove’s external surfaces and surrounding walls, the minimum to the rear and sides is 150mm.

For stoves installed in a recess, the hearth must extend 300mm to the front, and for freestanding installations, the hearth size must be at least 840mm x 840mm, irrespective of the stove dimensions and have the same 150mm clearing to the rear and sides. This will protect your flooring from the heat and any burning material that may fall from the stove when you light your fire and during the refuelling process.

With any freestanding stove that isn’t enclosed within a pre-existing chimney, the exposed flue also needs to meet minimum requirements for protecting the surrounding surfaces from the heat. A twin-wall insulated system must be installed with an appliance that’s not protected by a masonry surround rather than a single, skinned flue pipe. This dual-pipe construction is separated by a layer of high-grade insulation, which ensures that the exterior wall does not get hot enough to cause damage to the surrounding structure.

Style over flammable substance

If you’re having a wood burning or multi-fuel stove installed in a fireplace, you might consider the aesthetic of a timber mantle. This is a popular choice, yet one that poses potential issues when it comes to the ‘distance to combustibles’ guidelines. With wood being one of the main combustible materials on the list, extra consideration is needed when protecting it from the heat. Building regulations states that a standard single skinned flue pipe must be positioned at least three times its diameter away from the combustible material. In most cases, this is unrealistic. As a solution, a twin-wall flue and / or heat shields can provide extra protection from the heat and decrease the minimum distance requirements

Posted by Rebecca Daniels
1st May 2019
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