With wood-fired pizza more popular than ever, more and more people are looking for ways to add a wood-fired pizza oven to their backyard. The simplest option is to buy a pre-built oven. However, this can also be a relatively expensive option, which is why many people opt to build their own wood-fired pizza ovens.
To build a wood-fired pizza oven in your backyard, you will first need to choose a location to build it. Then, you will need to select a design, build and cover a base, and install a countertop. Finally, you’ll either need to build or buy a pre-made dome.
Building your own pizza oven is a significant undertaking, and it’s easy to get confused. In this article, I’ll explain how to build your own wood-fired pizza oven in detail, so you’ll be ready to make your backyard the place to be in the neighborhood – and all without breaking a sweat.
1. Choose a Location
Choosing a location is perhaps the easiest step of the build process. Your pizza oven will be a permanent addition to your backyard, so select a spot you won’t need access to for tasks like watering your plants.
You should ensure the ground is sturdy and level and confirm there are at least 3 feet (0.91 m) of clearance on all sides for easy access. You should also consider building your oven near your outdoor dining room, so you don’t have to walk back and forth when using it.
2. Select a Design
Wood-fired pizza ovens can be built in numerous different shapes and sizes. These are among the most important decisions you’ll need to make when selecting an oven design:
- How big will the oven be
- What materials will you use – brick ovens provide great aesthetics, but they are also significantly more expensive than clay or cement ovens
You can find numerous design options online, or you can design your own pizza oven.
Once you’ve made these decisions, you can finally move on to actually building the oven.
3. Build and Cover the Base
This is where you’ll actually start building your pizza oven. The base is the structure upon which the dome stands, which means it needs to be solid and able to bear the weight of the dome.
To build the base, we recommend using concrete blocks. These are durable and strong and will bear the weight of the rest of the oven well. Stack the blocks in the base shape you want; it can be an L-shaped base, a vertical plinth design, or anything else you like. You can stick the blocks together using mortar or landscape adhesive.
Landscape adhesive can get expensive, but it’s also incredibly convenient to use. I recommend the Loctite Landscape Construction Adhesive from Amazon. It is available in single and 12-pack bundles, is specifically formulated for outdoor use, and is resistant to all adverse weather, including rain and snow.
When building your base, make sure each layer of bricks is level.
Once the base is ready, your next step will be to cover it to make it look more attractive. This step isn’t necessary, and some people prefer the rustic look of uncovered concrete blocks. If you’re one of them, you can move on to the next step.
If you prefer to cover your base, you have numerous options to use. You can use stone, brick, or tile. We recommend using brick tile because it gives your base an attractive look without running too expensive. It’s also easy to install.
You can attach the brick tile to your base using mortar or cement, depending on the tile manufacturer’s recommendation. Make sure the bricks are spaced evenly and let the mortar dry before filling in any exposed spaces with cement.
3. Built the Countertop
The countertop is the capstone upon which the dome of the oven will rest. Depending on the design of your pizza oven, you may be able to skip this step; however, we do recommend creating a solid countertop to give the oven additional stability.
Your countertop can be made with the material of your choice, though we recommend using concrete. You can create a more aesthetic look by doing up the edges in wood or iron, while the concrete will give you the strength and stability needed to hold the oven.
To build the countertop:
- Cut plywood in the shape and size of your countertop.
- Place the plywood over the base and lay and attach the rebar on top to support the concrete.
- Once the frame is ready, mix and pour concrete over it, smoothening it out using trowels.
- Wait until the concrete has cured fully to move on to the next step.
5. Create the Dome
Creating the dome is perhaps the most critical step in building your pizza oven. You can either build your own dome or buy a pre-made one and attach it to the base.
If you’re using a pre-made dome, the instructions will include guidelines for what the size and design of the base should be. Make sure your base matches those specifications.
If you’re building your own dome, you’ll need to start with gathering your materials. As mentioned above, you have three choices:
Though brick is the most expensive option, it is also the most popular due to its aesthetic appearance. For that reason, we’ll cover building a brick wood-fired pizza oven in this section.
Once you’ve got the materials, you will then need to design the shape of your dome. If you’ve never attempted a similar project, it can be extremely intimidating. However, don’t worry – there are several designs available online that you can use as a reference for your oven.
Once your design is ready, the next step is to actually build the dome. Here’s how:
- Before building the dome, lay out the “floor” of the oven using fire brick. This will be a single, flat layer that you will join using high heat mortar.
- Create a mold of the dome. You can use mason’s sand for this, making sure to dampen the sand as you work to ensure it keeps its shape. Build the mold over your base, so you can judge whether it’s the right shape and size.
- Once the dome mold is ready, cover it with wet newspaper. This will prevent the sand from drying out and help it keep its shape.
- Next, use high-heat mortar and sand bricks to form the shape of the pizza oven around the mold. This is the same method you would use to make the dome out of clay or cement. When doing so, remember to leave the mold’s front section free for the oven door and a section at the top for the chimney.
- Build up the chimney with bricks to allow air to circulate through your oven. This step is crucial, as the chimney is essential to the proper functioning of a pizza oven.
- Allow the mortar to dry before digging out the sand mold. Once the sand is out, clean up the inside of the oven and get started making pizza!
For a visual demonstration of how you can build a backyard wood-fired pizza oven, take a look at the YouTube video below. While the method they follow is slightly different than the one described above, it will help you understand what you can expect when building your own oven:
Building a wood-fired pizza oven in your backyard will take careful planning and commitment to get the project right, especially if this is your first time trying a project of this magnitude. However, it’s also significantly more affordable than getting someone to build it for you or buying a pre-made oven, and the feeling of achievement you’ll have once the oven is ready will make this project well worth your time.
Last update on 2022-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API