There’s nothing quite like the taste of a freshly baked pizza. It’s a sentiment shared by many, with more and more people deciding to put pizza ovens in their backyards.
However, is it possible to build your own pizza oven? And how easy is it to do so?
The simple answer is yes, you can build your own pizza oven. It will be time-consuming and difficult, but it can bring a lot of satisfaction to any building enthusiast or pizza lover.
The ovens themselves are a type of arch-vaulted dome traditionally made from clay or bricks and cement. The most common difference between different types of oven is the chimney position.
Some regions tend to place their chimneys in the front, other regions have it in the back, while some don’t have one at all as they believe it keeps a higher temperature inside the oven for longer.
It’s worth noting however, that ovens without a chimney do tend to produce a significant amount of smoke, so while they’re a viable option for outdoor spaces, they shouldn’t be implemented indoors.
In terms of where’s best to build your pizza oven, there’s a degree of freedom here, with the only major limitation being access to a chimney.
It’s worth keeping in mind we also recommend that they shouldn’t be placed in areas exposed to strong winds or in the vicinity of flammable materials.
Pizza ovens can be built either separately or integrated with already existing grills.
The most popular placement option tends to be outdoors on patios, terraces and in gardens. Just remember to provide your pizza oven with its own roof!
How do you build an outdoor oven?
Firstly, you’ll need to start with the foundations of your oven. This initial stage is fairly easy and can be done by digging the rightly-sized hole and then pouring a slab of cement into and over it.
When the cement has solidified, you can then start building the base’s walls.
This can be done using either cement slabs or small intels as flagstones, the decision is all down to personal preference.
After you’ve done this, it could be worth making an outline plan of the floor, even if it’s just in your head, to help keep track of the space needed for all the layers.
When the base is finished, it’s time to insulate the bottom. Start with the bottom most layer walls, using bricks and cement.
After you’ve done the outline walls, it’s the key stage of making an insulation layer for your oven. This insulation layer will be crucial to the effectiveness of your pizza oven, so make sure you get it right!
It’s typically done with professional products, but for those of you who want to stick as closely to the true DIY way, many good insulation layers have been created using wine bottles.
All you’ll need to do is lay them evenly and fill the gaps with clay; making sure you leave a little room for the bottles’ thermal expansion.
With the base and insulation of your pizza oven ready, you can next focus on building the floor for your oven.
Before you start to lay your bricks, remember to put a layer of build soil down first.
This provides you with a firm base without relying on cement or clay. When you move on to laying your bricks, the best-fitting ones should be placed in the middle, and from them you can work your way outwards.
We’ve finally come to the dome. Before you start, stock up on clay as even small ovens will require 10 twelve-litre buckets. It’s also worth drawing the outline of your dome on the floor bricks.
When making the sand form, you’ll need to measure the right height in the middle in order to know how high to go.
For many, a proper stick can do this function well. The form itself should be compacted and neatly shaped into - yep you guessed it - a dome.
This process is challenging and will require a significant amount of patience on your part.
With the form completed, place a layer of dampened newspaper on top. This will make emptying the finished dome easier further down the line.
For the clay-sand mixing, you can make it easier for yourself by dumping a couple of buckets of each onto a big tarp.
Cover with sand and then add small amounts of broken clay. You can then use your feet to mix them together, making sure you do it thoroughly.
With the two well-mixed, add enough water to hold the mixture together. It’s best to do a lot of the mixture for this part as your first layer should be put together in one sitting to avoid any dry joints.
The dome’s first layer should be roughly 10cm thick and can be built by making a solid ball out of a handful of mixture, and layed one by one starting from the bottom.
You won’t need to worry too much about the smoothness of the surface as you’ll be able to even it out with a plastering trowel when ready.
With the first layer ready you’ll need to give it time to dry, before cutting out the mouth hole and one for the chimney if you’re adding one.
You can also safely remove all the sand from the inside. All that’s left to do is add a couple more layers of sand and clay mix to fully insulate the dome.
Then add a roof and your pizza oven will be pretty much good to go. Finally, when the dome is fully dry you can build over it, leave it as it is, or even paint it decoratively to the style and color of your choice.
How do you make a simple pizza oven?
As the detailed explanation above demonstrates, building a pizza oven can be a long and time consuming process.
However, pizza ovens can come in a variety of different shapes and styles, so it doesn’t necessarily always have to be a complicated and daunting process.
If you’re looking to build a super small clay oven, this will take you considerably less time and effort than if you were to create a large scale concrete one.
It all depends on what you want, as well as the time and hard graft you’re willing to put in.