Why are the two largest stove board manufacturers located just a few miles apart near St. Louis, Missouri? The story starts many years ago when there was only a single manufacturer of lightweight stove boards. After many ups and downs, that company went bankrupt.
Their top salesperson went to work for Imperial Manufacturing Group, and he built a huge stove board business through his established connections to retailers. But the original company’s equipment (heavy presses and molds & tooling) went up for auction, and HY-C bought that equipment. We subsequently launched what became the second-largest stove board operation in America.
Stove boards have always had a humble but critical role: they keep your house or cabin from burning down when loose embers fall out of your wood stove or fireplace. But despite how important they are, the casual observer may be a bit surprised by how much a stove board costs.
So we’re going to explain how steel and backing material determine the price of a stove board to give you a better sense of precisely what you’re getting for your hard-earned money. We’ll also outline the prices of one of our lines of stove boards to give you a sense of how much you can expect to spend.
How Steel Affects the Price of a Stove Board
It’s easy to question why a product made of such thin steel is so expensive. The answer goes all the way back to the steel mills which produce the basic, raw steel. Steel mills manufacture a range of steel sizes and shapes from thick, heavy sheets to very thin gauges of steel coils. Regardless of the result, steel mills charge for their steel by the pound.
A truckload of quarter-inch-thick steel has relatively few sheets, and those sheets are relatively easy to make. A truckload of high-grade, comparatively thin steel coils, on the other hand, is made with ten times as many square feet of steel as the quarter-inch-thick sheets. Here’s the factor that affects price: both truckloads weigh the same (i.e. their volume differs, but their mass does not). Manufacturers pay steel mills by weight rather than by square footage, so mills prefer to produce thicker grades of steel and avoid producing thinner grades.
Even still, our buyers have great relationships with the mills, and the mills are willing to create thinner grades of high-quality material at a much higher price per pound. The bottom line is that the steel that goes into a stove board “feels” more expensive than it should proportionally to other, heavier steel products that weigh more but cost less.
How Backing Material Affects the Price of a Stove Board
First and foremost, a stove board is a safety device for your home or cabin. And in order to earn the top industry-standard stove board safety rating, the key lies in the quality of the backing material of the stove board.
Both Imperial Manufacturing Group and HY-C use the same backing product: a mineral board produced by USG (formerly United States Gypsum Company) that will not burn under any conditions. The effectiveness of our stove boards is measured in terms of R-value.
R-value is the measurement of how well a material resists the flow of heat — the higher the rating, the more insulation the material provides. For reference, a four-inch-thick layer of brick has an R-value of 0.8. Our stove boards’ mineral backing material features an R-value of 1.56, reflecting its ability to protect surfaces from heat.
If you’ve ever tended to a fire in a fireplace, you know that as the wood burns, the fire can shift, and hot coals or embers may roll out onto a combustible floor or carpet. Our stove boards, made from a combination of steel and the mineral board backing material, shield carpet, flooring, and even walls both from loose embers and the sustained, intense heat coming off the bottom or back of a wood stove.
How Much Do HY-C’s Stove Boards Cost?
Two HY-C brands account for the bulk of our stove boards: Liberty Foundry Co. and Shelter. Before we dive into pricing, it’s important to note that stove boards fall into two categories: type 1 and type 2. Simply put, both types provide protection from embers, but type 2 stove boards provide additional heat protection (meaning that the floors or walls they cover won’t get nearly as hot as they would if they were covered with a type 1 stove board).
The Liberty Foundry Co. collection of EmberGuard stove boards all fall into the type 1 category, while Shelter stove boards may come in either type 1 or type 2. Our stove boards are all made from steel and the mineral backing material; the primary factor that determines price differences is the dimensions of the boards themselves. This table of type 2 Shelter stove boards should give you a general idea of how much you can expect to pay for a stove board based on its size (keep in mind that each board is 1 inch thick):
|Stove Board Dimensions||Approximate Retail Price|
|18 inches x 48 inches||$95 to $105|
|28 inches x 32 inches||$115 to $125|
|36 inches x 36 inches||$140 to $160|
|32 inches x 42 inches||$165 to $185|
|36 inches x 48 inches||$190 to $210|
|36 inches x 52 inches||$215 to $235|
|40 inches x 48 inches||$230 to $260|
|48 inches x 48 inches||$250 to $270|
Stove board pricing varies from retailer to retailer (and from manufacturer to manufacturer), but this table should give you a general idea of what to expect. Each Shelter stove board comes in three distinct colors: black, wood grain, and gray slate. These colors are for aesthetic purposes only; they have no effect on the heat-resistant or fire-resistant performance of the board.
Which Stove Board Is Best for You?
If you have a wood furnace or stove, the risk of not having a stove board far outweighs the price of getting one. Even a small, loose ember that pops free can completely burn a house to the ground if it lands on a combustible surface.
Whether you utilize a lightweight stove board made by one of the big two stove board manufacturers or, alternatively, a heavy-duty tile/aggregate/cement stove board (which are highly expensive but also very attractive), by now you have all the information you need to choose the right one for you. All that’s left to do is find the perfect fireplace grate and your wood burning appliance will be set up for comfort, convenience, and safety.