Archives for posts with tag: wood burning stoves

After four months the stove is actually in. We got the surround from Cumbria Architectural Salvage; it’s made of slate though we sprayed it to protect it. With the surround in, the lounge has a better balance to it and the stove is framed nicely.

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The instructions we followed to install the stove are all on the Stove Fitter’s Manual web site. It’s a great resource and we’re very grateful for all the information it provides (we got the stove and lining kit from there too).

We painted the lower part of the alcove before putting the stove in. We couldn’t paint the upper bit because we plastered around the closure plate (the roof of the alcove) to seal it in. That will come in a couple of weeks.

Now we’ve just got to paint the lounge for Christmas.


With the roof underway, the roofers kindly agreed to install the chimney liner for us while they have the scaffolding up. This is the one part of the project that we can’t take on ourselves.

Here is the liner, with the margin for error hanging into the room.

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You can see the finished insulation and plaster layer in and around the alcove. All we have to do now is install a fire surround, plaster it in and install the stove.

When considering the alcove we thought it would be a shame not to insulate it, considering there would be a stove in it. However, modern insulation is often unsuitable for older houses. It messes about with the dew point (the part of the wall where condensation occurs) and doesn’t allow walls to breathe (the ventilation system in older houses). I started to research if it would be possible to apply some kind of lime-based insulation and came up with a couple of options. There is a ready-mixed product available and there is a firm in Cumbria called Eden Lime Mortar that has come up with their own mix following some customer requests.

So I phoned them up and the chap was very patient and gave me a price based on pallet delivery. A third of the price was delivery, so we decided to go and get the stuff and visit friends in Penrith on the way. Cumbria is right next to D&G after all. This was a fine decision because the lime man took us through the whole process, showed us the finished result, and even lent us a proper mixer.

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The insulation goes on in 25mm layers, a week apart. It’s made up of hemp shiv, natural hydraulic lime, and perlite. After a couple of coats, it gets a thin coat of finer render made up of similar ingredients, in smaller pieces, and a bit of sand. Below is the first coat starting.
P1030925 (Large)It’s just a case of starting at the top right and working into what you’ve applied already. The first coat took me a day.

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A close-up of the hearth shows the gaps around the back filled in with the insulation.

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Before I get to the rendering of the stove opening, I’ll cover something so old-school, it’s almost prehistoric (maybe). The render is lime-based to allow the alcove to breathe like the rest of the plaster in the lounge. However, if there is any soot or other deposits on the stonework, the staining will bleed through the render, a result of it being a natural, breathable material. The solution? Cow pat.


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The lime man’s top tip is to spread a layer of cow pat onto the sooty surface before applying the lime render. It’s prehistoric stain block and we’re certainly not short of it in the fields around us.

Below is the closeup of the smeared back wall, with soot as a contrast. The uncovered soot is above the level of the cover plate of the installed stove.

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There was a little soot on the alcove’s archway, so that got slabbered too. I then used a heatgun (not so medieval) to dry it quickly so I had time to render on top of it. And there wasn’t much of a burnt-dung smell.

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Next step in the stove installation is adding the hearth. We could have lined or rendered the opening first, though I decided to do the hearth and then cover the gaps round the edges with render rather than cement. This is how the installers did the stove in the playroom too.

P1030897 (Large)The hearth is black sandstone from the local building supplies merchant. We saw the slabs as part of a patio display and asked if they could be used as a hearth, which it seems they can be once they are treated with boiled linseed oil.

After leaving it for a day to let the adhesive set, we need to grout the various gaps between the slabs, which you can see in the picture below.

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It’s time to sort out the lounge, which means we need a stove in there first. This time, we’re going to do it almost all ourselves. The only bits we’re not doing are the chimney sweeping and lining the chimney.

The first job is removing the fireplace and all the rubble that fills the builder’s opening at the bottom of the chimney. The results can be seen in the picture.

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In other news, I have managed to keep The Beast – aka our boiler stove – lit for 24 hours solid. Think I have finally mastered the balance of draughts to keep it ticking over without constantly tinkering.

The playroom stove is in and lit. A bit smelly to start with while the paint settles and heats but the room is lovely and cosy now. Hoping to strip the wallpaper in here tomorrow…


And this is how the fireplace used to look.

NookWhile Iris was at school, Granddad was keeping himself out of trouble in the kitchen, removing the old cupboard and revealing the innards of the inglenook. We have someone from a local wood-burning stoves company coming on Thursday to discuss the possibility of installing wood-burning stoves with boilers to generate enough heat to warm the whole house and our hot water. At the minute all our hot water (except the ancient Miralec Supreme shower) is provided by the Rayburn. There is an immersion heater but it’s not currently connected up.

We’ve also got another roofer coming out to quote tomorrow. The roofing quotes have been really high so we’re changing tack and asking what can be done within the budget we have, rather than how much doing everything will cost. Looks like we’ll need to do patch repairs to the roof and concentrate the budget on the urgent issues highlighted in the survey and some easy fixes – gutters and fascias.

We also gave away the old carpet underlay today via Gumtree to another Laura who is renovating an old manse in Buittle. She’s just had woodworm treated too but is finding the bare boards draughty!inglenook_flue

So we moved in (not without hitches involving overworked removal men and cats locked in showers) and the house is still standing. We are now on to our second “trade”. The woodworm was treated last week and this week our sparky (AKA my Dad) is putting in new plug sockets, switches etc. One room down, 11 to go.  We’re also getting regular visits from roofers and plumbers as well as biomass experts for various jobs. The biomass plan might be about to fall at the first hurdle as it’s looking unaffordable, so we’re now looking into ranges and woodburning stoves as heating. There might be exciting range-related news in my next post. In the meantime, here’s a picture of how most of our floors look just now.Image