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Feb 29, 2012 08:47 AM

Pizza Oven

We are looking to build a pizza oven in our backyard. Any recommendation on style and function that anyone has with previous models? Completely new to this and seems like a daunting task? Doable or is it too much of big deal to maintain?

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  1. I did this. I have lots of construction experience but no previous masonry experience. I followed the Pompeii oven plans/instructions found at The forum there has tons and tons of great info and all the support you could ask for from other enthusiasts and builders.
    First figure out what you want to spend on this project. If you've got more money than time, there's prefab or modular ovens that reduce your end of the labor significantly. If you like projects, the Pompeii which is built with individually set firebricks. Depending on your resourcefulness and desired exterior finish, this can be the cheapest option unless you want to do a cob-style oven (clay). These are generally considered non-permanent.
    It's still my most favorite project ever. I use mine constantly for all kinds of things even in winter. Just did a leg of lamb last weekend.

    1 Reply
    1. re: splatgirl

      I did it too, after 2 years we decided to take it down and ordered an oven from

      My construction experience is/was very limited and I did not do a good job building it. My wife insisted it come down and suggested I just buy one... After researching the market we decided on the fontana forni. We love it but at 900 lbs it really is not portable as they suggest, it does have wheels but moving that kind weight is never easy.

    2. I built one in my outdoor kitchen also. I used a commercial Wood Stone Pizza oven, but used a *huge* natural slab of olivine stone for the base.

      The fornobravo forums have loads of photo's and advice from others that have experience with these. The most work is in designing and building the facade for the oven.

      Maintenance is nothing for me as I built it inside an entire outdoor (roofed) kitchen. I think you might have maintenance problems if you don't have a roof and you live in a rainy climate.

      1. We installed an outdoor pizza oven last summer - my post about it here:

        Bought the top "beehive" part from someone who imported a bunch of them from Portugal. Placed it on a heavy brick base with a concrete top. Tried to keep the whole thing as simple as possible as we really didn't want to spend a fortune on the thing. Anyway, it was a big project but it does make a hell of a great pizza. Unfortunately I'm not sure how it's going to hold up over the winter. We weren't smart enough to cover the dome before the frost set in and there are a few large cracks in the top. We did finally throw a barbecue cover over it but spring will tell how much damage there is. I'm hoping it's relatively easy to fix. The truth is that the last time we used it was December and because the part underneath the oven is open, it was really hard to get the floor temperature to stay high enough to cook a proper pizza. Maybe we just didn't let it heat up long enough. But I'm thinking this may just be a summer thing for us. We're in Canada so it's definitely not a Mediterranean climate. Spring is coming so we'll see how it goes next year. Good luck with your project.

        8 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve

          Yikes, Nyleve. Maybe it doesn't perform well because it doesn't have any insulation. OR, if that white stuff is insulation, it doesn't perform well because the insulation is wet and probably always has been. If that white stuff is insulation it shouldn't matter if it's open underneath. It's going to take a long, loooong time and many fires to dry it out though.

          Anything you build or buy will need to be properly enclosed and weatherproofed to for your climate. Beyond that, there's really no "up keep" other than keeping yourself in split wood and kindling.

          1. re: splatgirl

            The white stuff is some kind of stucco, not insulation. I need to find some kind of heat-proof and weather-proof outdoor cement to re-seal the outer shell. Will do that in the spring. May also install a layer of insulation under the concrete base. There is no way we're building an enclosure for it so I think I'll just have to keep the bbq cover over the thing when it's not in use. Ugly but whatever.

          2. re: Nyleve

            Most of the outdoor ovens I have seen have a brick base with fill on the inside with the oven on top. Yours sounds like it's on a platform.

            1. re: John E.

              There should be insulation directly under the refractory material of the oven floor. In Nyleve's case, putting insulation under that structural base will help, but it's never going to really be right.

              1. re: splatgirl

                I have the book to which thimes posted a link below. I have also seen pizza ovens incorporated into outdoor kitchens in warm climates. All have a silid base using bricks. I too do not belive an oven should have an open base, even in a warm location.

                1. re: John E.

                  So many of the oven photos I've seen are built on an open base. I use the area under the oven to store wood. It's not completely open - just with an archway at the front. But still - I realize something isn't quite right. I will get some insulation under there in the spring. The thing works beautifully during the warm months. Also since this was a fully built oven, I suspect that there is some kind of insulation material built right into the base, which is fairly thick, which was then placed onto a thick concrete slab. So it's not like it's just sitting out there exposed.

                  1. re: John E.

                    The construction of the base has exactly nothing to do with it, regardless of climate. It exists to hold up the oven and nothing more.
                    Without insulation under the cooking floor, (and surrounding the dome) an oven will retain heat just as poorly on an "open" or "brick" base as on a solid base.

                    In any case, hopefully this discussion illustrates for the OP the importance of doing ones' homework WRT construction.

                    1. re: splatgirl

                      "Without insulation under the cooking floor, (and surrounding the dome) an oven will retain heat just as poorly on an "open" or "brick" base as on a solid"

                      Huh? I suggested a brick base with 'fill'. You do understand that fill means sand and dirt? How is that the same as a base that is open underneath the oven?

            2. I have never done it. But good friends built their own (down to collecting their own clay) and it is awesome. This was the book they used to plan it out -


              If you want to go the totally home made way. So it is definitely doable if you're up for it. They live in Maine and it has survived many winters now, though they did add a small roof over it.

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