What to put behind a wood burning stove?

When considering the installation of a wood-burning stove, choosing the right material to put behind it is crucial for both safety and aesthetics. The primary goal is to protect the wall from heat damage, enhance the efficiency of the stove, and add a decorative touch to your space. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to put behind a wood-burning stove, focusing on safety considerations, material options, and installation tips.

What to put behind a wood burning stove?

Safety Considerations and Clearances

Before selecting materials, it’s vital to understand the safety considerations involved with operating a wood-burning stove. Wood stoves generate intense heat, which can pose a fire risk if proper clearances are not maintained between the stove and combustible materials. The manufacturer’s guidelines and UK building regulations typically specify these minimum clearance requirements to ensure that surrounding walls, floors, and materials do not ignite due to the stove’s heat. Additionally, installing suitable materials behind the stove with excellent heat resistance and insulating properties is essential to prevent heat-related damage to adjacent walls or surfaces​​.

Material Options for Behind a Wood-Burning Stove

Several materials are suitable for use behind a wood-burning stove, each offering different benefits in terms of safety, aesthetics, and heat efficiency.

Brick and Stone

Brick and stone are popular choices due to their heat-resistant properties, ability to absorb and slowly radiate heat, and their classic, cosy aesthetic. These materials are non-combustible, making them ideal for reducing fire risk. However, they can be more expensive and labor-intensive to install compared to other options​​​​.

Metal Heat Shields

Metal, particularly stainless steel or sheet metal, is commonly used as a heat shield. It is an excellent conductor of heat, inexpensive, and can be a sleek addition to a room’s decor. When using metal as a heat shield, it’s crucial to ensure it’s installed with ceramic spacers to create an air gap, preventing direct heat transfer to the wall​​.


Tiles can offer a similar aesthetic appeal without the weight and complexity of natural stone or brick. However, their heat resistance might not be as high, so it’s important to ensure they are suitable for high-temperature exposure​​.


Firebacks are typically made of cast iron or steel and sit at the back of the stove. They protect the wall by reflecting heat back into the room, increasing the stove’s efficiency. Firebacks also add a decorative element with various embossed designs​​.

Installation Tips

  • Ensure Adequate Air Space: Regardless of the material chosen, it’s crucial to maintain an air gap between the stove and the wall. This space helps to cool down the hot air from the stove and prevents heat transfer to the wall​​.
  • Follow Local Regulations: Adhere to local and national building codes and regulations regarding clearances and materials to ensure safety and compliance​​.
  • Professional Consultation: Consider consulting with a professional Hetas installer to ensure that the material selection and installation meet all safety requirements and aesthetic desires.

In summary, the choice of material to put behind a wood-burning stove should be informed by safety requirements, aesthetic preferences, and the specific characteristics of the stove and space. Whether you opt for the natural beauty of brick and stone, the sleek appearance of metal heat shields, the versatility of faux panels and tiles, or the decorative and functional benefits of firebacks, proper installation and adherence to safety guidelines are paramount. This approach will not only enhance the efficiency and safety of your wood-burning stove but also contribute to the overall ambiance of your home.