Every home needs a hearth. It’s the beating heart of a living space. Our bus is no exception.
Our hearth is almost purely for aesthetics. The Kimberly woodstove we’re using has ridiculously tiny clearances, and we have given it much more room than is necessary. In addition, the vent pipe we’re using only has a 1″ clearance to combustibles, so let me preface all this by saying the space we’ve allocated is overkill.
We left a nearly 3′ by 3′ space between the two starboard benches, with the plan of fitting our woodstove right in the middle. Since we’re in a relatively tiny space, I made a hole in the floor for external combustion air. On top of that, we cut and attached our cement board. While the cement board could be helpful to deal with the heat, in practice it’s really just to keep the masonry in place while the wood elsewhere expands and contracts.
We’re using a thin cut brick for our hearth. They’re smaller than standard bricks, which works to our advantage. The thinner/smaller the building materials we’re able to use the more space we appear to have inside. We attached them to the cement board with Liquid Nails.
While Nishi was able to space out the bricks on the floor without a guide, we needed to cut some small spacers for our walls. Neither of us remember figuring this out in advance, but our hearth measurements perfectly accommodate our bricks. We didn’t need to make any tough cuts.
Our hearth looked pretty cool with bricks alone, but it still needed mortar between those joints.
The joints between our bricks are smaller than most, in part because our bricks are narrower to start. We tried at first using a tiny clay sculpting tool to lay the mortar, but it was imprecise and slow. We just adopted the finger-painting method. A word of warning to anyone who decides to give this a try: do not take breaks. The mortar dries your skin really quickly and will wear through your fingers before you realize it.
We let it sit a few days, then brushed and vacuumed away whatever was loose. It came out pretty clean.
Our stove will be sitting nearly dead center in the square. Again, total overkill for both stove and pipe clearances, but it’ll give us a good spot to store other stove-related items.
We had some brick left over, and used it to make a little accent wall along our counter.
Things are coming together, and as soon as the stove is good to go, we’ll be secure in our ability to work through the winter. Nishi took this fantastic picture one night after work.