How to Install and Tile a Heat Shield

Wood-burning stoves generate a lot of heat. This could be dangerous if you don't have a tiled heat shield. See how to add one yourself.

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Safety trumps aesthetics when you add a gas or wood stove to your home. If your stove will be within three feet of a wall, adding a heat shield is essential. These instructions show you how to make a protective heat shield for nearby walls. Tile can make it beautiful as well as effective. Find what is best for your home and do this important DIY project right away. With our help, you'll find it manageable.

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What You Need

  • Stud finder
  • 4-foot level 
  • 2 1/2-inch screws
  • Drill
  • Backerboard
  • Thinset
  • 1 1/2-inch self-tapping sheet metal screws
  • Hammer
  • Tape

Step 1: Fasten Hat Channel

Building codes require an air space between the tile and a combustible wall surface. Hat channel, light-gauge sheet metal track, is the ideal material for this purpose (don't use 2x4s). Using a stud finder, locate the centers of the studs and mark them on the wall. Holding a 4-foot level vertically on the mark, extend this line down the wall. Cut the hat channel to the height of the heat shield and fasten it to the wall with 21/2-inch screws.

Step 2: Cut Backerboard

Cut two sheets of backerboard to the dimensions of your heat shield. If you're using a raised tile panel for the stove base, set the backerboard on a shim that's the same thickness as the base. Position the backerboard and mark the hat channel centers on the surface. This will allow you to keep your screws in line.

Step 3: Attach Backerboard

Assemble the two sheets of backerboard with a thin coat of thinset between them. Set the assembly against the hat channel with the edges flush and the marked sheet facing you. Line up the backerboard on the hat channel and fasten it every 4 inches with 11/2-inch self-tapping sheet metal screws. Drive the heads flush with the backerboard surface. Tape and finish any joints. Leave the shim in place if you need a guide to keep the first row of tiles straight.

How to Tile a Heat Shield Wall

If you're installing a stove base, set it in place before you set the wall tile. Spread a coat of heat-resistant epoxy mortar on the backerboard. Set the bottom row of tiles—field tiles first, then the edge tiles, if any—inserting spacers as you go. Hold a piece of 1x lumber against the sides of the heat shield to keep the edge tiles flush. Let the mortar cure for 24 hours, grout the tiles, and remove the bottom shim.

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