A stone and masonry pizza oven is an excellent centerpiece for outdoor dining and a great conversation starter when entertaining guests.
The problem is, it can cost you thousands of dollars if you hire an experienced stonemason to build it for you.
If you have the skills for it, why not do it yourself? A DIY outdoor pizza oven is more cost-effective and ultimately more rewarding if done properly.
DIY Outdoor Pizza Oven
Below is a step-by-step guide on how to build an outdoor pizza oven.
Follow it carefully, and you can have piping hot pizza straight from the oven to elevate your dining experience.
Step 1: Prepare the Tools and Materials Needed
There are countless ways to build an outdoor pizza oven.
Ultimately, the design and size will depend on your personal preference and the available space.
This guide is for a dome-shaped, wood-burning oven, which is what most homeowners prefer.
What we like most about this project is that below the oven is a cabinet to store firewood.
You can build other pizza ovens based on these instructions by making slight variations on the design or material.
For this project to go smoothly, ensure that you have everything you need before laying the first block.
Take a look at your tools organizer and check if you have the following:
Besides checking your tools collection, you’ll want to visit your local hardware store for the following materials:
Step 2: Pick the Perfect Spot for the Oven
Once you have the necessary tools and materials, you can start looking for an ideal location for your outdoor oven.
Lay some outdoor furniture out if it will help you visualize and make a better decision.
Keep in mind that this will be a permanent fixture in your yard, so choose carefully.
While this decision is up to you, there are a few things you need to consider:
First, the oven must be far enough from combustible materials in your yard to eliminate any fire hazard.
With your tape measure, make sure that it has a clearance of at least three feet around its perimeter.
Next, you should build your oven on a sturdy surface that will not shift or settle.
A concrete slab reinforced with a rebar is your best option.
If you have found an ideal spot, but the ground is not solid, you might have to build the foundation first.
Finally, use a level to check that the surface is even.
Step 3: Building the Base
In this design, the base is the same size as the oven on top of it.
Therefore, if you want a 36-inch oven, your base should measure three feet by three feet.
Make the necessary adjustments depending on what oven size you plan on building.
Again, once you have identified a location, make sure that it is at least three feet from your house.
Then, mark the midpoint of the foundation, as this is where the first block will go.
Laying Down the First Row
As you lay down the first row of blocks, make sure that it is both level and square. Use the speed square and level for this.
If you have to make adjustments, gently tap the misaligned block into place using a rubber mallet.
Since the base dimensions are set, you might have to cut some of the blocks for them to fit.
Mark the point where you have to cut the block using the speed square to ensure that the edges of the base are even.
Next, use an angle grinder to cut about a quarter of an inch into the blocks.
Once the block is scored on all sides, complete the cut using a chisel.
You will have to do this for all succeeding rows of blocks, so keep the grinder and chisel handy.
Laying Down the Next Rows
Once the initial row is done, you can start laying down the next rows. Before you do, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
First, make sure that the joints are staggered as you lay them down each block. Doing this makes the overall surface stronger by preventing buckling and gapping.
Another thing to remember is to optimize the application of landscape adhesive to hold the blocks in place.
For this, run two parallel beads along the middle of the block, preventing the adhesive from dripping on the sides when you place the upper block.
Once the second row is complete, check that the blocks are level and plumb. Again, use the rubber mallet to make minor adjustments.
It would take about 24 hours for the adhesive to set, so you have plenty of time to work on the alignment.
After laying down the second row, repeat the process for the following rows, making sure you keep the structure level and plumb with every row of blocks you add.
As for the height of the base, it should be comfortable for whoever will use the oven the most.
Step 4: Installing the Cap of the Base
After building the base of your oven, you can proceed to the next step, which is to set the capstone.
To do this, apply landscape adhesive to the topmost row of blocks. Afterward, place the capstone carefully on top of the base.
Remember that you will be building your oven on this surface, so make sure that it is secure and even.
Step 5: Building the Oven
For the next step, you can start working on the dome-shaped oven.
Note that the fire bricks will serve as the oven floor while the clay bricks form the dome.
Laying the First Row of Bricks
Lay the fire bricks on the capstone surrounded on three sides by the clay bricks, but do not apply adhesive yet.
You have to make sure that all pieces fit perfectly first before doing anything final.
Some pieces might not fit, so you would have to cut them to the exact size using the angle grinder.
Once the layout of the oven floor and first dome layer is complete, start mixing the high-heat mortar.
Mixing and Applying the Mortar
To mix the mortar, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Generally, it must have a thicker consistency than concrete for it to be effective.
Next, you can start attaching the bricks to the capstone.
To do this, apply enough mortar to cover the underside of each brick with a thin layer.
Then, wipe off any spills or drips with a sponge before setting each brick.
Once all the bricks are on the capstone, let the mortar set for 24 hours.
Making the Dome Support
Before you start building the dome, you need to make a temporary structure to support the materials.
You can do this by cutting two pieces of dome-shaped plywoods and then attaching them with two by fours.
Make sure that the size of the mold matches the area of the oven floor that you have made.
To finish the mold, cover the top of the dome with lauan.
If you think this step is too much for your DIY skills, you can buy a “dummy” insert instead.
Another alternative is to build a mold made of mason sand. Just make sure that you dampen it from time to time to maintain its shape.
Building the Dome
With your temporary support structure in place, you can start working on the dome.
Mix the mortar that you are going to use to attach the clay bricks. Its consistency should be thicker than the one you made for the oven floor.
Then, apply it on the bottom and on one side of the brick using the trowel.
Wipe off any excess before setting it on top of the first layer of clay bricks.
Repeat the process for the next rows and fill all gaps in the joints with mortar using a tuck pointer.
Make sure that the joints are staggered as you lay the bricks, similar to what you did with the base.
You might also have to cut some pieces so that they will fit snugly on the dome structure.
As you approach the top of the dome, remember to leave an opening for the chimney.
Building the Chimney
Use the same clay bricks on the dome to build the chimney.
The chimney’s height should be 60 to 70 percent of the oven’s height for it to keep the optimum amount of heat.
After building the chimney, allow the mortar to cure for a few days before removing the mold.
Level up Your Pizza Nights
As you can imagine, taking on a DIY outdoor pizza oven project is a lot of work.
The good thing is that if you are up to the task, you could save thousands of dollars.
Even better, the pizza it churns out would be more special because you built the oven with your own two hands.
If that won’t make pizza nights so much better, we don’t know what will.