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Can You Build a Pizza Oven With Normal Bricks? We Ask the Experts

Normal bricks can be used to build a pizza oven. You'll need a concrete base, insulation and insulating materials, a ventilation system, fireproof bricks and a heat-resistant concrete floor.

Commercial pizza ovens produce temperatures ranging between 700°F and 900°F (371.11°C and 482.22°C). Such high temperatures mean you must make your oven bricks from materials that can withstand high temperatures. Otherwise, you risk the bricks exploding or cracking and causing severe injury.

You can build a pizza oven with normal fire bricks if you’ll be using it only a few times a year. According to Ben Guilford, a pizza oven expert at the Fire Brick Company, normal fire bricks develop cracks when exposed to constant thermal shocks.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the best way to use regular bricks in a pizza oven. I’ll also cover other bricks you can use to build your pizza oven, including their pros and cons. Keep reading!

How To Use Normal Bricks in a Pizza Oven

Normal bricks are fired at high temperatures of around 1,500 and 2,000°F (815.56 and 1093.33°C). According to the American Journal of Civil Engineering, firing regular bricks at such high temperatures increases their compressive strength. This makes them suitable to withstand high temperatures like those in pizza ovens.

At this point, it’s clear that you can build a pizza oven with normal bricks since they are fired at higher temperatures than pizza ovens. However, the trick is how often you use your oven and whether it can withstand a rapid temperature change.

Guilford clarifies that regular bricks can’t withstand thermal shocks. According to Science Direct, thermal shock entails the rapid heating or cooling of a material at different rates. This creates thermal stresses that can cause some materials, like bricks, to crack or break.

Exposing regular bricks to constant thermal shocks creates small cracks. These cracks propagate through the bricks each time they experience thermal shock. In the long run, the cracks weaken the bricks, making them susceptible to breaking.

You can use regular bricks in a pizza oven if you’ll be using it only a few times a year. This is because they can’t withstand constant thermal shocks. If you’ll be using your pizza oven more often, consider using other types of bricks that can withstand regular thermal shocks.

Here is Guilford’s video discussing the use of regular bricks in a pizza oven:

Pros of Normal Bricks in Pizza Ovens

Normal fire bricks have the following pros when used in pizza ovens:

  • They can withstand high temperatures: Pizza ovens operate at high temperatures between 700°F and 900°F (371.11°C and 482.22°C). Normal fire bricks can withstand such temperatures without breaking or exploding.
  • They’re dense: The density of regular fire bricks makes them ideal for pizza ovens. They retain heat and conduct it evenly to cook the pizza uniformly.
  • They are cheap: Normal fire bricks are more affordable than other bricks. This makes them a cost-effective option for building a pizza oven.
Wood fire pizza oven.
The density of regular fire bricks makes them ideal for pizza ovens.

Cons of Normal Bricks in Pizza Ovens

Despite the above pros, normal fire bricks have the following cons when used in pizza ovens:

  • They’re susceptible to thermal shock: As mentioned earlier, exposing regular fire bricks to thermal shocks creates small cracks. These cracks grow over time and weaken the bricks, making them susceptible to breaking.
  • They can explode: If regular fire bricks are not adequately fired, they can develop internal stresses. These stresses can cause the bricks to explode when exposed to high temperatures, like those in pizza ovens.

Factors To Consider When Building a Pizza Oven With Normal Bricks

Although you can use regular bricks to build a pizza oven, you should consider the following factors for safe and best bricks:

Material

Normal bricks are made from either clay or shale. Both materials are suitable for building a pizza oven. However, clay bricks are denser than shale bricks. Thus, they retain heat better and conduct it evenly to cook the pizza uniformly.

A fire bricks oven with firewood.
Clay bricks retain heat better and conduct it evenly to cook the pizza uniformly.

You should go for clay-based bricks if you want a durable pizza oven that can serve you for a long time.

Firing Temperature

Normal fire bricks are fired at high temperatures of around 1,500 and 2000°F (815.56 and 1,093.33°C). This firing temperature increases their compressive strength, making them ideal for building a pizza oven.

The higher the firing temperature, the stronger and more durable the brick. Thus, it’s better to use bricks fired at 2,000°F (1,093.33°C) rather than 1,500°F (815.56°C).

Size

When it comes to size, regular fire bricks are available in different sizes. The most common size is the standard brick, which measures 215 × 102.5 × 65 mm (8 5⁄8 × 4 1⁄8 × 2 5⁄8 inch).

The number of bricks you’ll need to build your pizza oven depends on the size of your oven. For instance, a small wood-fired pizza oven requires about 60 to 80 bricks.

A bricked oven.
When it comes to size, regular fire bricks are available in different sizes.

Generally, it’s best to go for larger bricks as they’re easier to work with and will save you from buying many bricks.

Other Bricks You Can Use in a Pizza Oven

In addition to regular fire bricks, you can use the following bricks to build a pizza oven:

Refractory Bricks

Refractory bricks are made from materials that can withstand high temperatures. Such materials include:

  • Ceramic: This material has a dense thermal resistance and thermal inertia. These properties make it suitable for pizza ovens as it can withstand high temperatures and thermal shocks.
  • Silica: Silica has a low thermal conductivity; therefore, it retains heat well.
  • Alumina: Alumina has a high melting point of approximately 2,050°C (3,722°F), making it suitable for pizza ovens.
A clean bricked pizza oven tools.
Ceramic material has a dense thermal resistance and thermal inertia.

Refractory bricks can withstand thermal shocks because of their density. These bricks are denser than normal fire bricks, making them less susceptible to cracking.

Pros

  • Can withstand high temperatures: Refractory bricks can withstand high temperatures as they are made with heat-resistant materials. This makes them ideal for pizza ovens.
  • Can withstand thermal shocks: The high density of refractory bricks makes them less susceptible to cracking from thermal shocks.
  • Aesthetically appealing: Materials like silica make these bricks aesthetically appealing for your home. They also come in different colors, so you can choose the one that blends well with your home.
  • Excellent heat retention: Fire bricks have an excellent heat retention capability. Thus, you don’t have to keep stocking up the fire. This saves your wood as the pizza oven retains much of the heat.
  • Excellent heat reflection capabilities: The heat from the fire is evenly distributed when using these bricks due to their superb heat reflection capabilities.
A bricked pizza oven.
Refractory bricks can withstand high temperatures as they are made with heat-resistant materials.

Cons

  • They’re expensive: Refractory bricks are more expensive than regular fire bricks. Their high prices result from the durable and costly materials used to make them.
  • They’re heavy: Refractory bricks are also heavier than normal fire bricks. This makes them challenging to work with and can cause back problems for those not used to lifting heavy objects.
  • It may be challenging to use them: You need specialized skills like welding to work with these bricks. This is because they’re made of materials that require high temperatures for bonding.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Use Instead of Fire Bricks?

You can use refractory concrete, normal kiln red clay bricks, or Ankar sandstone instead of fire bricks. These materials can withstand high temperatures, characteristic of pizza ovens. You can rest assured they will serve you for a long time.

Are Red Bricks Heat Resistant?

Red bricks are heat-resistant because they are fired at high temperatures. Due to the high-temperature firing, these bricks can withstand temperatures up to 2,460°F (1348.89°C). This feature makes them suitable for use in ovens.

Final Thoughts

You can build a pizza oven with regular bricks if they are fired to the right temperature and made from clay. These qualities make the bricks heat-resistant and durable. Alternatively, you can use other materials like refractory concrete, regular kiln red clay bricks, or Ankar sandstone.

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