Q: My clients want to install a gas fireplace “stove” as part of a living room renovation. What’s the best way to create a non-combustible surface behind the stove? And how close to the wall can the stove safely sit?

A: Ettore Bonfini, a mason who lives and works in Lindenhurst, N.Y., responds: My first recommendation would be to use 4-inch-thick brick because most bricks have a 2-hour fire rating. Leave at least a 1-inch air space behind the brick and tie the bricks to the wall with wall ties no more than 16 inches on-center. The same approach should work...

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