How Pizza Ovens Are Built

How Pizza Ovens Are Built featured photo

Ever wondered how some pizzerias have a crispy, charred texture on their pizzas? Most pizzerias use a deck oven or sometimes a conveyor pizza oven. But a lot of pizzerias also use a wood-fired oven to cook their pizzas. If you’ve ever tried an authentic pizza Napoletana or a Neapolitan pizza, it is probably cooked in a wood-fired oven. But, how are these wood-fired pizza ovens built? And can you build your own DIY outdoor pizza oven?

Yes, you can build your own pizza oven. That is if you are talking about a wood-fired oven. You can build your own pizza oven using different materials such as brick, cob, and cement among other things. You can build the oven yourself or ask someone to help you. But, yes, you can have that wood-fired pizza anytime you want!

Building a pizza oven is not just about gathering the materials and building your oven. There are other factors to consider when building your own pizza oven In this article, we will talk about how pizza ovens are built and the materials you need to get started. So if you like DIY projects and pizza, read on to find out how pizza ovens are built so you can start making one for yourself!

Can You Build Your Own Outdoor Pizza Oven?

This is the question most pizza lovers probably ask. Sometimes, a regular oven is not enough to bring out the flavors that we want in a pizza so we look for alternative ovens to cook pizza.

The good news is you can build a DIY pizza oven!

We are talking about wood-fired pizza ovens and they can be made using clay, bricks, cement, and other materials.

These materials can be bought in a hardware shop and they are easy to find so you can start your journey in building your own wood-fired pizza oven.

When building a pizza oven, things like the oven’s dimensions and style should be taken into consideration. Not only that, you have to make a plan on how you would go about building your pizza oven.

You need to make sure that you have your measurements ready so you know how much of the materials you need before you start building your pizza oven.

Pizza Oven Dimensions

Pizza Oven Dimensions

The pizza oven’s dimensions will depend on your space and also your budget.

The larger the pizza oven you want to build, the larger the space you need, and the expense might be a lot too depending on the materials you will use.

The dimensions can also depend on the number of pizzas you want to cook at once.

Most commercial brick pizza ovens can cook about 10 to 12 pizzas at once. If you are building your own brick oven for personal use, you would probably want a smaller oven.

A smaller oven can also have better heat circulation than a larger one.

Some pizza ovens have a 30″ diameter (internal dimensions) with a vault height of 16″, flue width of 18″, and a door height and width of 10″ and 16″ respectively. These dimensions can cook 1 to 2 10″ pizzas at once.

When planning your pizza oven, make sure to take the vault height into consideration. The lower the height, the faster the oven can heat up.

Pizza Oven Style

Pizza Oven Style

There are two styles of Italian wood-fired pizza ovens.

The Tuscan Style and the Neapolitan Style.

The Tuscan-style pizza oven has a higher vault height and the Neapolitan style has a lower vault height.

If you decide to go for a high (Tuscan) vault design, you can cook other things as well, such as bread. Tuscan-style pizza ovens have a larger door opening to accommodate larger pans and it uses less wood for the fire as it can hold more heat than the Neapolitan-style oven.

Low (Neapolitan) vault designs are good for Neapolitan pizzas. These kinds of ovens heat up faster and will cook the pizza faster resulting in that charred look a Neapolitan pizza has. And, traditional pizza Napoletana is actually cooked in a high-heat wood-fired oven.

There is no right or wrong way to a pizza oven style. It will largely depend on your preference and what kind of food you will cook in it. You can definitely use both to cook pizza and bake bread.

Planning Your Pizza Oven

When planning on building your wood-fired pizza oven, consider the space where you will put the oven. Most brick pizza ovens are permanent installations, so you can’t move it around anymore especially if you have already started with the base.

You can start over but planning ahead will save you so much time.

Measuring your space ensures that the oven’s dimensions are perfectly aligned with your designated space.

Aside from deciding whether you want a high or low vault design, another thing to plan ahead is the material you will use. As we said before, you can use brick or cob for the pizza oven. In this article, we will be focusing on brick wood-fired pizza ovens.

Once you’ve decided on your vault height, decide whether you want an igloo or barrel pizza oven dome shape. You can also build a square pizza oven if that is what you prefer.

If you do not want to source the materials yourself, there are DIY pizza oven kits that you can buy. Most of the kits already have the pizza oven built and all you have to do is put them in your area.

Materials Needed In Building A Pizza Oven

The materials used in a pizza oven can determine its durability. These are the materials needed to make a brick wood-fired oven:

– Bricks or stone pavers

– Fire bricks

– Builder’s sand

– Pot for chimney (optional)

– Cement

– Concrete

– Vermiculite, Perlite, or fire blanket (for the insulation)

How Pizza Ovens Are Built

How Pizza Ovens Are Built

There are several steps in building a brick pizza oven. You can do this in several days or in just one day if you have the time.

  1. Pizza Oven Foundation

Pizza ovens are usually permanent installations so they should be built on a solid, flat, and sturdy surface.

If you are building directly on the soil, you might need to remove some grass and even out the surface before laying your foundation.

Pizza ovens can have stone pavers or bricks as foundations. And, they can also have a slab of concrete as the foundation which is made by pouring cement mix on a mold.

Whatever foundation you prefer, make sure everything is leveled.

It is also usually good to draw an outline of your foundation on the ground first. Then lay your stone pavers, bricks, or mold before permanently installing your foundation. This is so you can make adjustments to your materials if need be.

Once you are satisfied with the outline and layout of your foundation, you can mix the concrete and start layering your preferred material.

If you would like to have storage for wood, create a U-shaped foundation.

  1. The Oven Base

After building the foundation, the oven’s base or flooring is next. This is where the pizza will be placed when cooking. Wooden form boards are used to reinforce the inside of the foundation and wood is placed as the first layer of flooring before layering it with cement and rebar mesh.

Bricks are sometimes layered on top of the cement, but you can leave the oven’s floor as a cement finish. This ensures that the base can handle the dome that will be put on top of it.

  1. Dome Mold

Once the base and the oven floor are finished, the next step is building the dome.

Heat-tolerant bricks, or fire bricks, are used for pizza oven domes to make sure the bricks can withstand high heat when in use.

This is where you can choose the shape of your dome. You can build an igloo, which is the common pizza oven shape, or a barrel. Or, you can continue and build a square with an arched opening for the oven.

To build a dome with an arched opening, use foam or a wooden frame to support the bricks while you build. Layer the rest of the dome with bricks and cement.

The vault height will depend on your preference. Styrofoam, wood, or sand can be used as support when creating the dome itself. This ensures that the brick does not fall when being layered. The styrofoam or sand will be removed once the dome is complete.

When using a sand form, it is advised to put a cellophane cover on the bricks to make sure that the sand does not stick to the dome. This is also the time when you will leave a space for the chimney flue for your dome.

  1. Chimney Or Flue

A chimney or flue is important to remove smoke in the oven and to keep the flames burning. The heat also needs to circulate to cook the pizza properly and there needs to be enough ventilation so smoke does not gather inside the oven.

The flue is incorporated into the dome’s chimney to create ventilation for the oven. This is usually made of a stainless steel pipe. When building the dome’s chimney, it is also best to use fire bricks rather than regular bricks.

  1. Insulation Layer

Insulation is important to slow the cooling down of the oven.

A mix of vermiculite and cement is used to create the layer of insulation outside the pizza over. It is usually layered on the dome and under the oven’s hearth.

Some use Perlite or a fire blanket for the insulation of the pizza oven. Vermiculite is usually found in the gardening section of a hardware shop.

  1. Final Shell

After adding the insulation layer, a final layer of cement is added to the pizza oven’s dome to create the finishing touch.

  1. Oven Door

Some brick pizza ovens have doors to help maintain the temperature when cooking pizza and to keep the oven clean and free from debris when it is not in use. But, some people opt to go without an oven door.

So it is definitely a personal preference whether to have a door or not.

A brick pizza oven door is usually made of wood or galvanized/stainless steel to withstand the heat. If you plan on using a wooden door, put a metal surface on the inner side to prevent the door from charring.

Final Thoughts

You can definitely have your own backyard pizza oven! Building your own pizza oven can be a great DIY project, especially if you are a pizza lover.

You just need to plan ahead and choose the materials for your oven then you can start building. The most common material used for a pizza oven is brick but you can definitely build a pizza oven using cob or clay.

We hope this article helped you know how pizza ovens are built. It can be a challenge but if you can have a wood-fired homemade pizza anytime, why not give it a try? If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How is a pizza oven different from a regular oven?

A regular oven can only have a temperature of up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit while a pizza oven’s temperature can typically reach up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pizzas, especially Neapolitan pizza, are cooked in a pizza oven to achieve a crispy texture and soft crust.

But, you can still cook pizza in a regular oven. However, it might not produce the char that a Neapolitan pizza has.

Can I use normal bricks for a pizza oven?

Regular bricks may crack under pressure once it gets to a certain temperature so it is best to use fire bricks in your pizza oven. Fire bricks can withstand up to 1,260 degrees Celsius (2,300 degrees Fahrenheit). Regular bricks can also withstand high heat but some can crack at 650 degrees Celsius (1,200 degrees Fahrenheit).

How thick should a pizza oven floor be?

The thickness of a pizza oven floor should be able to handle the rest of the oven and it should be in balance with the dome.

A too-thin oven floor can collapse under the weight of the dome, especially if the materials used are bricks. If you are using cement for the oven’s flooring, use a rebar mesh to increase its strength and resist cracking.

Do pizza ovens use coal or wood?

Wood is often used in brick ovens to cook pizza. 

Traditional Neapolitan pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven with a temperature of 430 – 460 degrees Celsius for 60 to 90 seconds.

But, charcoal can still be used when cooking pizzas.