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Has your new wood stove arrived with the fire bricks in a separate box? You may be wondering if you line the bottom of the stove with fire bricks.
Some stoves are designed not to need them on the floor. We’ll explain how to double-check your unit.
We’ll also show you how to install or replace fire bricks at the stove bottom.
Stoves That Don’t Need Fire Bricks On The Floor
Some stoves that are cast iron don’t need any bricks in the interior. I explain how and why in our article on whether cast iron stoves need fire bricks.
Steel stoves usually need fire bricks, but some only need them at the sides and back i.e. not the bottom.
Instead, they rely on a cast-iron grate and/or a layer of ash to protect the floor structure from direct intense heat.
The picture below is an example of one appliance that comes with a box or can that collects the ash.
If you’re curious, this is the interior of a unit from Morsoe. They tend to make smaller appliances that are very easy on the eye.
Don’t assume that bricks are optional
Many modern steel stoves are manufactured to hold fire bricks on the bottom.
However, the unit is often delivered without the firebricks inside. Instead, the bricks are in a separate box.
This is to make it easier to carry and position the stove without the extra weight of the bricks.
But it doesn’t mean that the bricks are optional! It’s important that you check the manual to check whether bricks should line the bottom.
So, what do you do if the bricks arrived separately? We’ll look at that next.
How To Install Fire Bricks On The Stove Floor
A picture is worth a thousand words, so here is the interior of a wood stove that has just been installed.
This owner has chosen to put the sides in first. Depending on your stove, that may not be the optimum sequence for you.
Instead, you could put the bottom bricks in first. They should still be lengthwise, as you see in the picture above.
The advantage of putting in the sides and back first is that it’s easier to measure and cut the bottom ones for the tightest fit.
How to cut fire bricks
You don’t need expensive tools for cutting fire bricks. You just need any one of a:
- wet saw
- grinder with a masonry cutting wheel
- grinder with a diamond blade
You can get notched diamond blades that fit on hand-held grinders for about five bucks.
Why Put Fire Bricks On The Bottom Of A Wood Stove?
We have a general article on why fire bricks are used in wood stoves.
But here, let’s look at the reasons for protecting the floor specifically. There are two main reasons:
- protecting the structure of the floor
- increasing the heat efficiency of the stove
If the floor was in constant contact with the intense heat from burning wood, the metal could eventually warp and possibly crack.
Aside from the heat, the ash residue contains acid that also degrades metal over time with direct contact.
The other purpose of the fire bricks is to act as an insulation layer that absorbs and reflects heat back into the fire chamber.
This makes these stoves far more efficient in retaining and producing heat.
If you want to learn more, we discuss combustion efficiency in wood stoves here.
When To Replace Fire Bricks On The Floor
Fire bricks come in difficult levels of quality. Some last for decades, and others start cracking after a few years.
Even the best quality bricks won’t last if they aren’t treated right by the people packing and lighting fires.
Check out our best tips for making fire bricks last longer in your wood stove.
If you see hairline cracks, you generally don’t need to worry. However, if large gaps appear then you should replace the degraded brick.