Disclaimer: I'm not a building inspector and I can't speak for your stove manufacturer, your installation contractor, or your local building codes. Before you attempt to build a hearth pad yourself, check with all parties involved to make sure it's okay to do so. You should never build your own pad for a regular wood-burning, gas, or coal stove (unless you're a pro or you are very familiar with the requirements). Those do need to be built to certain fire and heat specifications.
DIY Hearth pad
- 4x4-ft sheet of 5/8 plywood
- 14-16 12-inch ceramic or floor tiles (depending on the shape of the pad)
- grout of your color choice
- thinset or other recommended tile adhesive
- tile spacers or a couple strips of thin wood to use as spacers
- wet tile saw or tile guillotine
- tile and grouting tools (notched trowel, plastic spatula, float, etc.)
- blue painter's tape
- "stop" molding for the edging (enough to go around the perimeter)
- stain and polyurethane to finish the molding
- Stain and seal the molding with polyurethane (follow the directions)
- Cut the sheet of plywood to size and spend some time laying-out your tile in the pattern you like. Cut all tiles during the layout phase and mark with painter's tape on top if you need to remember specific positioning. Be sure to leave spaces between the tiles AND between the tile and the edge of the board. Use your spacers or spacing sticks as a guide.
- If working on saw-horses, be sure to support the weight of the board with additional wood (2x4's, etc.) directly underneath it. The weight of the wet adhesive and grout will actually cause the board to warp otherwise and you'll have cracking and settling once you place it in the finished area.
- Using a notched trowel, spread the thinset or adhesive onto the entire board.
- Begin laying your tile, using the spacers or spacing sticks to make sure everything is evenly placed. Tap the tiles lightly into the adhesive with your fist or a rubber mallet.
- Allow to thoroughly dry overnight (or according to the adhesive's directions).
- Using a table saw, rip the molding to width so that it will sit flush with the floor and flush with the top of the tile.
- Using a miter saw, cut the pieces of molding to fit around the pad working from one end to the other. Glue and tack each piece on with brads as you complete each piece for the best fit.
- Cover the molding carefully to the very top edge with blue painter's tape.
- Grout the tile according to the package directions. You'll need a grout "float," a large soft sponge, and several changes of a bucket of water.
- Make sure the piece is 100% dry before trying to move it. Believe it or not, the weight will be nearly double while it is wet.