Brick oven pizzas just taste better, don’t they? Pizza cooked over an open flame is easily one of the most delicious treats we ever borrowed from overseas. Unfortunately, the art of brick oven pizza has gone the way of the brick oven- meaning it’s all but disappeared.
In recent years, though, brick ovens are resurfacing as common backyard installations. Being here, you likely already know this, though. Odds are you’re pretty set as it is on building one for yourself.
Building a DIY pizza oven is no small feat, but it’s far from impossible. You can rest assured that the process is easily done if taken one piece at a time.
Is a Pizza Oven Necessary?
You might be second-guessing the project. In fact, you might even be asking yourself,
If I did fine this long without a brick oven, do I really need one now?
Truthfully, no. You don’t need it, but you clearly want one- and who wouldn’t? Just like we don’t need heated car seats in the winter, fabric softener in our sheet cycle, or an extra drizzle of chocolate over our weekly cheat dessert, some things are simply luxuries we deserve.
Brick ovens not only make homemade pizza better, but even frozen pizzas are enhanced in flavor by the open fire preparation that a DIY pizza oven can offer. Why not let yourself have that extra comfort?
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUILDING A DIY PIZZA OVEN
Before getting into the logistics on how to build a pizza oven, you should have a solid idea on the type of oven that you wish to build. Do you want to build a relatively simple and portable pizza oven that is ideal for beginners? Or, do you want something more permanent that has a solid foundation?
How much space do you have to build a pizza oven? Will it be portable or fixed in one spot? These are two questions that you need to have answered before starting to plan your build.
Pizza ovens in restaurants can have a total surface area between 1,900 and 2,700 inches. You should measure the area that you're putting your pizza oven first. You also may need to obtain a permit before starting construction, depending on where you live and if you have an HOA.
Tools and materials
For some builds, you will need minimal tools and materials. For more complex ones, you will need tools such as fire bricks, mallet hammers, fire blankets, fire clay, and more. Be sure to read over a full list of equipment that you will need before building to ensure that you have all of the materials required.
Ten Steps to the Perfect DIY Pizza Oven
Now that we have talked you into it, there are many ways to build a DIY pizza oven and some are definitely more expensive and time-consuming than others.
Below, we have compiled a step by step guide to creating an effective and attractive pizza oven that will not cost an arm and a leg. It’s not a simple project, mind you. It will take some time to work through all the steps, but in the end, you’ll be proud of what you have accomplished. The project will keep you occupied all summer and fed all winter.
Have fun and enjoy the process!
Pick the Perfect Place
You’ll want to scour your yard for the perfect place to set your pizza oven. Know that once you plant the foundation, you can’t change your mind. For that reason, this is likely the most important step in the entire process.
Find a place close enough to the house for convenience, but far enough away to avoid fire hazards. You’ll also want to pick a place where any smoke or steam roll off won’t be a nuisance to yourself or your neighbors.
Once you’ve settled on a place, it’s time to move on to gather your supplies.
Gather Your Supplies
First and foremost, you’ll want to check with your city to make sure there aren’t any ordinances that you’ll have to follow as far as building permits or special re
quests to your housing authority. Once you’re sure that you are legally in the clear, you’ll need to start picking up building materials and tools.
For this DIY pizza oven, you’ll need sharp sand, builder’s sand, cement, aggregate, a pot to use as a chimney, a spade for mixing, a trowel for bricklaying, bricks, a large sheet of cellophane, foam or wood for shaping your arch, chipboard, a wooden pallet, a drill, wood screws, and a wood saw.
Build a Strong Foundation
To build the foundation, you’ll want to first lay down a pallet horizontally. Make sure that the pallet is laying completely flat. Use a leveler if necessary.
Using your wood saw, cut a piece of the chipboard that fits exactly over the pallet, then cut 50mm strips from the remaining chipboard to form a perimeter around the top of the pallet. The most important part of assembling the wood base is to make sure there are no large gaps because this is how the concrete will seal.
Use the drill and screws to hold all the wooden components of the DIY pizza oven’s foundation together. Once finished, you’ll need to mix concrete in a 1:2:4 ratio (cement, sharp sand, and aggregate, respectively). Once mixed, use the spade to pour the concrete into the mold and smooth it out. Get it as smooth as possible because this will be the oven’s floor.
Lay Out Your Design
Roughly arrange your bricks in the position you want them in before you start to cement them into place. Build the oven as tall as you like, just remember that you will need space for a fire at the floor level and a rack that sits high enough so that it will keep the pizza from burning.
For a shapelier frame, cut bricks in half to give yourself more room for arranging them into various designs.
Perfect the Oven Archway
Once you know how tall you want your oven to be, you’ll need to create the archway of your oven door. This is going to form the roof of the oven and it is also your access point to the inside of the oven.
The lower ends of the arch should begin at about 2/3 of the total height of the oven. You can use foam to create a support for the bricks in the archway so they don’t fall out of place.
Some might wonder if a curved archway is really necessary. The advantage of curvature in the archway is that the bricks resting against each other will wedge themselves in place better during drying, providing a stronger structure.
Carefully Cement Everything Together
Once all of your bricks are where you want them, it’s time to start cementing your structure together. A 1:3 ratio of cement and fine sand is perfect for this stage of the process.
Smooth the sand into the cracks, sealing any gaps between bricks throughout the structure, including the archway. Do not remove your foam supports until the cementing process is fully finished and cured.
You’ll want to lay cellophane at the bottom and fill the structure with sand as you work your way up. This will prevent the pizza oven from collapsing before the cement cures. Layer bricks around the perimeter with cement and sand and cellophane on the inside, working your way up.
When you get slightly above the archway, cement your chimney in place and seal the roof around it.
Add a Firm Outer Layer
Once the cement and bricks are completely cured, you’ll need to add an outer layer. Mix more concrete in the same ratio you sealed the bricks and liberally spread it over the entire structure of the DIY pizza oven. This will make your pizza oven more attractive, but it will also add much-needed insulation which will keep your oven hotter for a longer amount of time.
Carefully Free the Oven from the Supports
Once the entire structure is completely dried and cured, it’s time to remove all supports and sand. Note that this will take at least a couple days to complete, so don’t rush this part of the process.
Remove the archway supports first. Once you have done that, you’ll see the cellophane and sand stacked inside. Carefully tear at the cellophane and pull. As the cellophane comes out, so will the sand. Sweep out any sand that remains once the cellophane is fully removed.
Test the Pizza Oven for Safety and Effectiveness
You’re now ready to start your first fire inside of the pizza oven. This will serve dual purposes.
You will be able to test and see that your oven is functional. It will also dry out any remaining moisture that is on the inside of the oven before you begin preparing food with it.
Keep the fire burning for a couple hours, then put it out and allow the oven to fully cool. Examine the oven for cracks or breaks. If your oven is still intact, it’s time to throw a pizza party!
Show Off to your Friends and Family
Invite your friends and family over to try out your new pizza oven. We know they’ll be as impressed with your handy work as they will with the delicious meal!