August 16th 2023
If you're not planning to travel too far this summer, you may want to spend some time entertaining in the garden. And building a pizza oven is a fantastic - and achievable - DIY project to help up the wow factor in your outdoor space.
They can be the star of the show at parties or when entertaining the children - simply get the dough out, put on your toppings and cook some rustic, homemade pizzas. But first, you've got to build that oven.
You're probably asking yourself: Can I use normal clay bricks? Or do I need a special kind of brick to build the walls of my oven? The short answer to the question is you can use traditional clay bricks to build a pizza oven. They'll do the job and if you're only going to be using it a few times a year, it makes sense to go down this route.
You could even use reclaimed bricks or bricks you've taken from a structure you're demolishing. This may be a good way to use them. However, if you want to build an oven that really lasts, and is slightly more efficient too, you'll want to use fire bricks.
You certainly don't want to use concrete bricks and we'll explain why below. First though let's look at fire bricks and clay bricks...
For the best pizza oven, you want to look at using fire bricks, so called because they are constructed to withstand high levels of heat. These are used in fireplaces (although not that common anymore), industrial furnaces and any other brick structures that come into regular contact with fire. What makes them different is their composition. Bricks are generally a mix of silica and alumina plus a small number of other oxides and minerals. In fire bricks the proportion of silica is higher than in normal clay brick (around 73%) and the proportion of alumina is lower (around 23%). They generally come out as a dense white brick during the firing process although other colours can be added during manufacturing. The main downside to using these is that they're a lot more expensive.
Can they stand the heat? Yes. These solid bricks with low porosity can withstand temperatures of up to 980°C. This means the surface and integrity of the brick won't be affected by a high amount of heat from burning fuel. They also have lower thermal conductivity, which means they insulate better, are more energy efficient and will, therefore, allow the oven to heat up much quicker.
Whether you've got a load of spare bricks lying around or you're working to a tight budget, using clay bricks is going to be preferable for a lot of people. In terms of composition, with clay bricks the proportions of silica and alumina are more balanced. You have 55% silica and 30% alumina. The oxides are also slightly different and less metallic. This is obviously the much cheaper option and may be a good use of reclaimed bricks but they certainly won't last as long. It partly comes down to how much you think it is going to be used.
Can they stand the heat? Clay bricks will stand the heat but will begin to break down at around 650°C. The important thing to remember is it's not just how they react to heat in each instance but how well the brick fairs over numerous uses. Bricks will absorb a large amount of heat energy and then cool down slowly. It's during this cooling process that cracks and flaking may occur. Over time the bricks will begin to flake or spall, so you need to be aware of this. If you are using clay bricks, it's a good idea to make sure they are solid as opposed to hollow as this will make them a lot more vulnerable.
If you're looking for a cheap addition to a few summer parties (at some point in the future) or occasional fun with the kids, then making a DIY oven out of clay bricks will work. However, it will have a shelf life, and won't be as efficient an oven.
Whatever you do, though - don't use concrete blocks. These aren't fired and so haven't been hardened. They're very brittle and would crack easily under the heat. Not only that but there's even some danger that they could explode - and we can't imagine that concrete makes for a great pizza topping.
For a facility that's going to be used year-round, you should definitely looking into getting some fire bricks. As we mentioned they are quite a bit more expensive, but for a relatively small pizza oven, they are definitely worth the investment.
If you fancy a slice of pizza oven action, we have a range of services designed to help you achieve your goal.
If you can't decide which bricks to use for your project, our free Brick Selection service could be just what you need; if you want to use bricks that blend seamlessly with the rest of your home, our Brick Matching service could be right up your street; or if you'd prefer to browse bricks for yourself, we have more than 3,600 products to choose from in our Brick Library!
Our expert Brick Advisors are standing by to help you figure out how many bricks you need for your project, then source them and find you the best price - we'll even arrange delivery too!