We’ve recently had a wood burning stove installed in our living room. It replaced the existing open fireplace that was there when we bought the house around 6 years prior.
We had always intended to remodel our living room at some point and decided that the fireplace would be the first thing that we would overhaul. We also chose to have a new wood burning stove fitted as part of the new fireplace.
The image below shows the before and after the installation of our fireplace and wood stove.
In this article we cover everything that we experienced when having this new fireplace and wood stove installed, including:
- What fireplace we had previously
- The stages of installation
- What stove and fireplace components we went with
- How much it all cost
- What accessories we bought to accompany the stove
The Old Fireplace
Before having a new fireplace and stove installed, we previously had an open fireplace.
It consisted of a concrete surround and hearth, and a brick firebox chamber.
The hearth, surround and firebox were all painted black when we bought the house and so we kept the black look over the years.
We didn’t use this fireplace too often as open fireplaces aren’t the most efficient for heating purposes, but the fires were pleasant viewing.
Our chimney was open (no damper) and so we typically used a chimney balloon/draft excluder up within the throat of the chimney to prevent drafts.
We weren’t a huge fan of this fireplace and so saved some money and looked to completely overhaul this fireplace with something more modern.
We also decided that installing a new wood burning stove alongside would help make our living room cosier and we could use the stove as a secondary source of heating for the room more effectively than an open fire.
For one of the showrooms we visited, they provided a home inspection service, free of charge within a certain distance from the showroom, so that we could get a better idea of:
- The actual size requirements for the fireplace parts we were looking for.
- The required size of wood burning stove based on our living room dimensions.
We also wanted the open fireplace in our kitchen to be blocked up alongside the stove installation and so we wanted some advice on what to do.
Our living isn’t too big and has an approximate floor space of 16m2 (172sqft). With a room height of just under 3m, we were recommended to go with a stove with an output of around 3.5kW.
Choosing The Stove And Fireplace Parts
We had some idea of what we wanted our wood stove installation to look like: modern and stylish, but not ultra-modern. The colour scheme for our living room would be greys.
Having done some online research for both wood stoves and fireplace materials, we visited several showrooms where we could see the materials and stoves up close.
The main items we were looking for were:
- The stove
- Heath material
- Surround material
- Chamber lining
Choosing A Wood Burning Stove
For the wood stove, we were looking for a smaller heat output one otherwise our living room would get too hot.
The stove we chose was the Charnwood Cranmore 3, a 3.7kW (12,000 BTU) nominal heat output stove that we liked based on the traditional stove design mixed with a more contemporary style square and large glass front.
It also offered a high efficiency rating of 86%, and only had one air control for managing the fires.
Choosing A Hearth Material
The main options for hearth materials we had presented to us were limestone and granite.
We went with a granite hearth as we wanted some contrast between the hearth and surround materials. Furthermore, we have a granite hearth within the kitchen that we’re intended on keeping and would match nicely. You also need to be more careful with spillages on limestone as it can stain more easily.
We also needed to choose a finish for our granite hearth. The main finishes we could choose from were:
We decided on the honed finish because it had a smoother surface than leathered but a less shiny surface than polished.
Choosing A Surround
To provide contrast to the black hearth, the main option for us was a limestone surround.
The style and size of the surround could be chosen from a wide range, but we opted for a more simplistic look of surround with minimal details.
The other main choice we had for the surround was the type of limestone:
- Aegean limestone, a limestone engrained with small fossils.
- Portuguese ‘veined’ limestone, a limestone providing a natural veining pattern throughout.
We originally opted for the veined limestone construction but changed our minds before ordering as the Aegean finish provided more of an off-white color.
Choosing A Chamber Lining
The final main choice was the pattern and shade of the chamber lining that would eventually surround the fireplace chamber to the back and sides of the wood stove.
Choices on offer to us from our installer included a range of designs such as brick and slate effect. A simple non-pattern chamber lining could also be chosen, to be painted a color of our choice.
We chose a slate chamber lining but had a hard time choosing a color pattern (between dark and light) but ultimately went with the charcoal slate one as we thought it would complement the black stove and black hearth well.
With our stove and fireplace materials chosen and deposit paid, we had another home visit from the installer, this time to measure up the fireplaces and chimneys more accurately for them to be able go away and order the right size materials.
Removal Of Old Fireplace
The installation team made the first of two visits a few weeks after ordering to:
- Remove the old fireplace surround and hearth.
- Install the flue ready to connect the wood stove.
- Install new chimney caps for the two separate flues within our chimney.
- Block up our kitchen fireplace.
- With the old fireplace removed, confirm measurements for the new hearth and chamber lining.
Our concrete hearth and surround were removed with hand power tools and disposed of by the installer.
New chimney caps were installed at the top of our chimney, with one providing a vented cover for the flue that connects to our newly blocked up kitchen fireplace, and the other to provide the cowl that connects to the top of the wood stove flue.
The new flexible flue was dropped down from the top of the chimney and connected at the top of the chimney to be held in place.
The bottom of the flue was left hanging within the fireplace ready to be connected to the stove that would be installed on the next visit.
Finally, our kitchen fireplace was blocked up as we had no plans of ever using it with the wood stove going in.
A hole was cut out of the lower block and an air vent cover installed, required to provide sufficient ventilation for the newly covered up fireplace and chimney.
The removal of our old fireplace left an uneven surface on which the new surround would be installed.
The newly blocked up kitchen fireplace also needed plastering.
We therefore brought in a tradesperson to plaster the fireplaces in both rooms.
After a week to allow the plaster to dry we painted over the living room fireplace with our new paint color.
New Fireplace & Wood Stove Installation
The final step for the installer was to:
- Lay the new hearth.
- Install the surround on the hearth and around the fireplace opening.
- Install the chamber linings on the back and sides of the firebox.
- Install the closure plate into the throat of the chimney above the fireplace.
- Place the wood stove onto the hearth and connect the stove pipe up to the flue.
Firstly, the new honed granite hearth, made to suit the dimensions of our fireplace, was installed.
The hearth was installed in two pieces with the gap between them finished off.
The limestone surround came in parts and the legs were screwed onto the wall.
The chamber linings were finished off to ensure an exact fit within our fireplace and placed to ensure a square fit.
‘Slips’ for the surround were installed just inside the fireplace opening to hide the edges of the chamber lining panels.
The wood burning stove was unpackaged ready to be installed, with the stovepipe coming out the top of the stove for our installation, rather than out the back.
The finished fireplace and wood stove installation is shown below.
We love how our living room fireplace now looks with new materials for the fireplace surround, hearth and chamber lining, alongside the new wood stove installed.
For safety purposes, we were given a carbon monoxide alarm to place within a certain distance of the stove.
We had our first fire the night of the installation, ensuring that the stove didn’t get too hot so that that the paint could be properly cured. There was a curing smell for the first couple of hours and so had the windows wide open for the duration.
We were planning on having our laminate floor removed and carpet installed. As the new hearth is smaller in size than the old one, there was a gap between the old laminate floor and the new hearth. To have the new carpet laid, we had to fill in this gap.
The skirting board was destroyed in the process of removing the old fireplace hearth, but as we intended on changing all of the skirting anyway it didn’t matter too much.
Installing new skirting board up to the surround helped finally finish the fireplace off.
Carpet was laid after all of this work was done.
As part of renovating our living room we also changed our old external vent to something a bit nicer.
The total cost for our wood burning stove installation, with new fireplace fitted and second fireplace blocked up and chimney capped off, came to £7,068.78 (approximately $8750).
This price excludes the cost of the carpet and skirting board, but they weren’t necessary for the wood stove installation.
We’ve broken down this amount in more detail in the table below for the main components
|Wood burning stove
|£1,350 (approx. $1675)
|£435 (approx. $550)
|£1,080 (approx. $1350)
|Chimney pots & capper
|£181.37 (approx. $225)
|Bespoke hearth (2 slabs)
|Approx. £500 (approx. $625)
|Fireplace chamber linings
|£478 (approx. $600)
Other items that bring the installation cost up to the total amount include:
- Flexible flue liner
- Surround slips
- Home survey
- Home inspection
- 2 workmen for full day removal of old fireplace, installation of flue and blocking up of other fireplace
- Disposal of old fireplace materials
- Blocks, cement, and air vent for kitchen fireplace
- 2 workmen for full day for installation of fireplace and stove
- Closure plate
- CO2 alarm
- Certificate and registration
- Profit margin for the installer
Post Installation Issues
After using our new wood burning stove a few times, we noticed a smoky smell in the house that was giving us a bit of a sore throat and cough.
It wasn’t happening every fire but could be more noticeable at random times throughout each fire.
We realised that the smell was coming from the kitchen fireplace vent for the newly blocked up fireplace that shares the same chimney with the fireplace in our living room, albeit using separate flues.
Our living room and kitchen fireplaces back on to each other with a single layer of brick separating the two flues, and this brick had started to deteriorate throughout our time in the house.
The brickwork was made good as part of the installation, but we were worried there was a leak between the two flues.
To confirm our suspicions, we purchased an air quality monitor; device that accurately measures things such as chemical and particulate concentrations within the air in your home.
This air quality monitor measures PM2.5 levels, which are tiny particulates within the air (2 and a half microns or smaller in size) and could be a concern for people’s health. PM2.5 can come from many sources including burning of wood.
PM2.5 levels in our home are typically below 10 in our home but the air quality monitor showed spikes in these levels during fires.
Speaking to our installer they questioned whether we were burning low moisture content firewood and explained that stove smells could last up to 20 fires. We confirmed that the stove curing smell had gone within the first couple of fires and that we were only burning kiln dried firewood with a moisture content of around 12%.
The installer came out and confirmed that the stove had been installed correctly and the most likely cause was old deposits within the kitchen flue burning off.
They requested that we block off the kitchen fireplace opening for a short period of time and keep using the stove and running it hot. We did just that and the smells faded after a few weeks of using the wood stove every day.
We now keep the air quality monitor in our living room with the wood stove in, just to keep an eye on the quality of the air within the room.
Fireplace & Stove Accessories Purchased
To complement our new fireplace and wood stove we made several purchases of associated accessories to help make the most out of our fires, including:
- Kiln dried firewood and kindling from a local supplier
- Log store
- Ash bucket
- Stove fan
- Stove thermometer
- Tool set
- Moisture meter
- Air quality monitor
- Ash vacuum
The stove came with a pair of gloves, and we already had an indoor log holder, kindling basket and long matches from the open fireplace.
Firewood & Kindling
We don’t have any way to source firewood from our property and so we buy in our firewood.
To make the most of our new stove right from installation, we ordered 2 bags of kiln dried logs and few bags of kindling. The bags of logs were delivered on the back of a truck and placed at the end of our drive.
These logs had been kiln dried down to around 12% moisture content, meaning that we didn’t have to worry about seasoning them and were ready to burn in our wood stove.
We also typically buy seasoned firewood instead, but it wasn’t available from our supplier at the time.
To have somewhere to store our logs, we purchased a timber log store to go by our back door to the house.
There’s a nice area on our patio that we don’t use but made a great place for a log store.
The log store that we chose could fit the logs from just over 1 of the bags of logs that were delivered, and is deep enough to place two rows of logs.
There’s enough space around the sides of the store for air circulation and the front is open to allow us to quickly gather more logs.
We opted for a log store with a standard roof (sloping towards the front) and one without doors as we like the look of the logs stacked up. The option of log store we chose came with a kindling shelf, but we haven’t decided to put it on yet as we like the extra space for logs.
We had to build this log store as it came in parts, and we explain more about it and log stores in general in our complete guide to log stores.
As our wood burning stove has a removable ash tray at the base of the stove that’s quite wide, we opted for a rectangular shaped ash bucket to help make the process of removing ash easier with less mess.
We need to empty our wood stove every couple of fires and this ash bucket sits by the side of the fireplace and makes the process of removing the ash before fires much more efficient.
With the bucket being wide, we can get the ash tray right down the bottom to reduce the dust created when pouring the ash in.
Warm air from a wood burning stove can become trapped within the top area of a fireplace or rise up to the ceiling before you can feel much of the heat.
A wood stove fan helps by pushing this trapped air out into the room and can make a noticeable difference to the warmth that you’ll feel from your stove.
Our wood stove fan sits on the side on the top of our wood stove and helps us feel more of the heat when we’re sat on the other side of the room.
Our fan is a bit too tall for our opening (the space between the top of the stove and the surround slip) but is set back enough where’s there’s space below the closure plate.
For more information we have a complete guide to wood stove fans.
Wood Stove Thermometer
It can sometimes be hard to understand how efficiently your wood stove if operating, especially if you’re using a new one or one for the first time.
A wood stove thermometer is a relatively inexpensive device that can help you to determine how effectively you’re using your wood burning stove.
We bought a stove pipe thermometer, which is the more common type, that we’ve place on the stove pipe just above our wood stove.
The other type of thermometer is the stove top thermometer, which sits on the stove itself.
A stove pipe thermometer reads the temperature of the gases leaving the stove via the flue and is typically detailed to provide an easy-to-understand overview of the stove’s current performance.
Wood stoves should be run within a certain temperature range to help prevent:
- Increased creosote production due to a low temperature smouldering fire.
- Running the stove too hot which could cause damage to the stove over time.
At nominal usage with the right amount of firewood within our stove and the air vent at the standard position, we’re finding that our stove is running just fine and within the optimal temperature range.
If our fire is struggling for some reason or we forget to put another log on, then the temperature drops off.
It can help identify issues such as burning wet firewood, which can lead to low temperature smouldering fires.
If we’ve stacked the stove with firewood and left the air vent wide open, then we find that we can get to the top of the optimum temperature range. Our stove is only a small output stove and so don’t often see our stove running in the temperature range designated to be too hot.
A fireplace/stove tool set provides you with the necessary set of tools to manage and maintain a fire.
A tool set can also be a nice piece to display alongside your stove.
We didn’t want anything too intrusive and large for our tool set and so we opted for a small and simplistic tool set that contained:
- A poker
The poker and shovel help us to move burning logs around within the stove, while the brush can aid when cleaning the ash out.
We’ve had our moisture meter for a number of years and is an essential tool for any fireplace or stove.
A moisture meter is a small handheld device that provides a moisture reading of the material it’s held up against.
For example, you can use a moisture meter to read the moisture content of the firewood you’re burning.
Using wet wood can be one of the main causes of a poorly burning wood stove fire. A moisture meter can identify whether your firewood is ready to burn or not.
It’s recommended to only burn wood that has a moisture content of 20% or lower.
Any higher and the fire will need to burn off the excess moisture before the wood can be properly combusted, leading to less efficient fires.
As we bought in kiln dried firewood for when our wood stove was installed, we could be assured that the logs were dry enough to provide a great burn. The average moisture content of these kiln dried logs averaged around 12%.
However, when we buy in seasoned firewood, or use seasoned firewood provided by family members, a moisture meter can come in more useful for identifying wood that is still high in moisture content.
For more information see our complete guide to moisture meters here.
Air Quality Monitor
We originally purchased our air quality monitor to understand where the smoke smell was coming from in our home, as we discussed earlier in the article.
Now that the issue has gone, we keep our air quality monitor within our living room where the stove is located to keep an eye on the air quality within that room over time.
The main numbers that we keep an eye on include:
- PM2.5 levels
- Carbon dioxide levels
PM2.5 can be one of the main sources of air pollution when burning wood, and so this is the main number that we keep an eye on.
PM2.5 levels in our living room do go up during our fires but this can be expected (due to the opening and closing of the stove door) and levels do not exceed into that which is classed as ‘poor’.
High PM2.5 levels could signify issues such as a leak in the stove.
As wood stoves consume oxygen from the room, we also keep an eye on carbon dioxide levels over time.
We purchased an ash vacuum to help remove the ash located at the back of the chamber in our wood stove.
Our stove has a removable ash tray but is open at the back and so ash and charred bits of wood fall out as we remove the tray.
Ash can also get stuck at the back of the stove chamber which the ash tray doesn’t pick up.
Our ash vacuum therefore comes in handy when the ash builds up too much.
Other Essential Fireplace & Wood Stove Tools
We’ve covered above what we specifically bought to complement our new wood burning stove but there are a handful of other accessories and tools that can also be essential purchases.
The following is what we already had from our open fireplace but still use with our wood stove:
- Carbon monoxide alarm
- Kindling basket
- Indoor log holder
- Fire extinguisher
See our main article on the essential fireplace purchases for more information on these products.
What do you think of our installation? Let us know in the comments below!