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DIY Pizza Oven Outdoor: How To Build Guide, Advantages, & 5 Staggering Drawbacks

By Daniel Cdebaca

February 27, 2023

Being able to have fresh, wood-fired pizza on demand is a tantalizing prospect!

So it’s no wonder that you’re considering building a DIY pizza oven outdoor.

Of course, being able to make gourmet pizza whenever you like is the primary motivation… But you’re also after the satisfaction of completing this project yourself.

That’s an honorable goal! But is it a realistic one?

The realities of a DIY pizza oven project aren’t often discussed… And that’s what we seek to uncover today.

Continue reading to learn the pros and cons of build a pizza oven outdoor… And what solution may best meet your needs.

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diy outdoor pizza oven featured image

Pros of a Full DIY Pizza Oven Outdoor

Before you jump in headfirst on any home improvement project… You’ll have to deliberate on the pros and cons.

If the advantages are strong, you’ll want to move forward with the idea. But if the downsides are too much… It’s time to seek alternative options.

Let’s see where DIY pizza oven outdoor stands on the advantages.

You Have Full Control over Design

This advantage should come as no surprise!

When you build a pizza oven from scratch… You have full control over every aspect of the project.

You want a stucco finish? Brick? Tile?

Whatever you want… You’ve got it!

Same goes for the actual pizza oven materials. If you want a clay oven, concrete oven, or wood fired brick pizza oven… That’s also for you to decide.

Likewise for the size and shape!

Point is, if you want highly specialized pizza oven plans… Building it yourself is a guaranteed way to avoid compromise.

diy pizza oven built into brick

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The Finished Project is Satisfying

custom outdoor pizza oven

There’s something to be said about a sense of accomplishment.

When you’ve successfully completed a challenging project… The satisfaction is unlike anything else!

And while this is an intangible advantage of building your own pizza oven… It’s an important one.

Building a homemade pizza oven will bring a great self-confidence boost… And it will become an excellent conversation starter!

Every time you use your pizza oven (or even look at it)… You’ll be reminded of your hard work.

You’ll also be rewarded with the best pizza you’ve ever had!

You May Save Some Money

Take this pro with a grain of salt… As you won’t always save money with a DIY wood fired pizza oven project!

Why?

Well, it depends on what you compare it to.

You can easily purchase a countertop or portable pizza oven for a few hundred dollars… But of course, this is a far cry from a DIY project!

If you’re contemplating a pizza oven kit or hiring someone to build it for you… You’ll save some cash by completing this project on your own. (You’ll especially save on labor!)

But ultimately… Pinching pennies shouldn’t be the primary reason why you build a DIY pizza oven.

Reading through the disadvantages will quickly reveal why.

Cons of Building an Outdoor Pizza Oven

As with any project… There are disadvantages.

Unfortunately, in our minds… The cons of a DIY pizza oven project far outweigh the benefits.

In fact, it’s better to read this section as “why we don’t recommend DIY pizza oven projects”.

Because it’s true. We don’t!

Let’s get to reason number one.

DIY Pizza Ovens Require a Specialized Skill Set

man applying scratch coat on pizza oven

While a slew of “DIY-friendly” YouTube videos may try to convince you otherwise… The reality is, pizza ovens require a ton of skill to construct properly.

And oftentimes, you need to be proficient in the use of multiple materials.

If you’re building a concrete oven dome… You’ll have to understand how to work with concrete.

Building a brick archway will require some masonry know-how… And applying a stucco finish will command some finesse, as well.

Point is, this task is no walk in the park! (Same goes for a DIY outdoor kitchen!)

It takes years of experience to understand how to properly construct each material. So if you’ve never worked with them before… You’re in for a difficult time!

On top of understanding how to work with various materials… Outdoor pizza oven design will almost inevitably become a stumbling block.

You’ll have to design the chimney flue… And also keep in mind how to control the airflow and temperature properly.

If you don’t have experience with this… You’re simply crossing your fingers and hoping it works out.

Unfortunately, you can’t leave this project in the hands of fate!

The Margin for Error is Small

Here’s the thing. Building a DIY pizza oven outdoor is a precise pursuit.

If too many mistakes are made… Your oven simply will not perform to a high standard.

Or worse… It might not get hot enough to actually cook a good pizza!

You also run the risk of parts failing over time. Pieces of brick may pop off, stucco may crack… The list goes on.

While pizza oven materials are highly durable to the outdoor environment… They’re prone to problems if you don’t know what you’re doing!

Take making the oven dome, for example. If you’re using a mixture of perlite and mortar… This dome is highly susceptible to cracking with movement.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to the YouTubers known as Bro Builds!

They were able to avoid a remake… But the prospect is frustrating, nonetheless.

Mistakes happen. But if you don’t know how to properly address them… You’re in for a disappointing final result!

You Still Have to Build a Base

preparing the base for the pizza oven

In looking at all the glamor of a wood fired pizza oven… You’ll likely overlook the fact that you also have to build a pizza oven stand!

This is a completely separate project that requires just as much effort and skill!

So really… With a DIY pizza oven, you’re taking on two projects in one.

You’ll now have another set of considerations to review.

What should the stand be made from?

What should it look like?

What’s the size I need?

And that’s just where it starts.

Even if you’re confident about building the stand you need… It does require a specialized skillset.

You should use non-combustible materials such as concrete or brick. And again, these materials are not beginner-friendly!

This realization is often when the excitement starts to deflate.

It May Not Turn Out Picture Perfect

custom outdoor pizza oven

More than likely, you’re familiar with the concept of “expectations vs reality”.

Many times… Our expectations of how a project will turn out do not match up with reality.

This concept is just as true when applied to a DIY outdoor pizza oven!

At the start… You’ll have grand visions of stunning homemade pizza ovens dancing in your head. They’re refined, clean, and look professional.

But as you turn your head to face your completed project… You’re looking at a waking nightmare rather than a dream.

Perhaps the oven is asymmetrical, the brick is off-kilter, or the stucco isn’t smooth. Whatever it may be, the result ends in disappointment.

Of course, it’s not a guarantee that your oven will turn out to be a disaster… But more often than not, the result isn’t picture perfect!

So the question becomes… Are you okay with the chance of a flawed pizza oven?

It May Not be as Effective as You’d Like

Piggybacking off of the idea of a small margin for error… This significantly plays into the effectiveness of your oven.

If your oven design was off… Or if there was a mistake made in the process of construction… There’s a large chance that your oven won’t reach peak performance.

Ideally, your oven should reliably be able to hit high temperatures of 900°F. Your oven should also be efficient… Requiring only a couple small pieces of wood to accomplish this.

Oftentimes, a homemade oven comes with several complications.

It may not be able to reach high temperatures reliably… It may not be able to sustain a high temp… It may not be efficient… Or it may not circulate air flow properly, resulting in uneven cooks.

Obviously, a pizza oven should cook pizza well! Otherwise… What’s the point?

Again, it’s not a guarantee that your oven won’t perform. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing… It’s inevitable that your oven will have some imperfections.

After seeing all of these disadvantages, you’re probably wondering…

Outdoor Pizza Oven Solution

Add a pizza oven to your outdoor kitchen build using our free 3D design tool. Get started now!

What’s the Alternative to a Homemade Outdoor Pizza Oven?

At this stage, you may no longer want to build your own outdoor pizza oven.

But at the same time… You still may not want to purchase a countertop model off the shelf.

So, what are you to do?

Well, there is a middle ground.

If you still feel you’re up to the task and want to get your hands dirty… A pizza oven kit could be the perfect compromise for you.

The oven will already be designed, some of the work will be done for you… And you’ll have DIY outdoor pizza oven plans to guide you through the steps.

Just keep in mind that not all kits are the same! Some will come with all the materials you need to build… Others not. So be sure to do your research!

So… How do you build an outdoor pizza oven kit?

While there are many brands to consider (WPPO, Chicago Brick Oven, Forno Bravo)… We’re going to give you a quick overview of the process with an offering from the Fire Brick Co.

chicago brick oven pizza oven
CHICAGO BRICK OVEN PIZZA KIT

How to Build an Outdoor Pizza Oven Kit

The Fire Brick Co is an Australian-based pizza oven kit manufacturer… But they also supply their offerings to the United States!

Currently, they have two options available. You could opt for a precast oven kit, or a pre cut DIY brick outdoor pizza oven kit.

Precast oven kits tend to be more common in general… So we’ll quickly outline Fire Brick Co’s precast pizza oven kit here.

According to Fire Brick Co… The first step is unpacking the boxes and cataloging materials.

Since you may not necessarily purchase this kit… Let’s skip to the next step of the building process.

1. Constructing the Stand

If you don’t already have a pizza oven stand in place… You’ll have to get busy!

The Fire Brick Co has two separate videos on the topic, so be sure to refer to those for details.

The long and short of it is… You’ll need to prepare the area where your pizza oven stand will go.

Then, you’ll pour a concrete slab to support the weight of your pizza oven and stand.

In the Fire Brick Co’s example… They utilize a stainless steel frame for the base of the pizza oven stand. A thick layer of cement board will be adhered to the top of this stand.

The remainder of the stand can be finished however you like. Usually, it’s best to have it match your oven!

2. Floor Tiles & Insulation

Next, you’ll prepare a piece of calcium silicate board. This will need to be cut to the exact shape and dimensions of the bottom of your outdoor pizza oven.

Ultimately, this will form the oven base.

Once that piece is in place… You’ll cover the board with a layer of refractory cement. (They recommend covering the board in foil first to prevent the mortar from drying too quickly.)

Then, you’ll lay your firebricks in place. With Fire Brick Co, the pieces are already cut for you… But not all kits will do this!

After you’ve placed all the tiles… The floor of your oven is complete. Allow it to cure, then move onto the next step.

3. Installing the Dome

In the case of Fire Brick Co… The dome arrives in separate pieces that need to be assembled. Some kits will come fully cast, which will not require additional assembly.

Either way, you’ll need a layer of mortar on the bottom of the dome to adhere it to the base.

If you have a dome in separate pieces… You’ll also need a layer of mortar over the seams to hold it all in place.

The Fire Brick Co also uses ratchet straps around the dome to firmly hold everything together before mortar is applied.

Apply mortar to the seams carefully to ensure a good bond… And allow it to cure.

4. Building the Archway

Now, you’ll want to build the arch to your oven!

Fire Brick Co provides pre-cut clay bricks so there’s no additional work there… But again, not all kits will provide this.

Whether you need to source your own bricks or not… You’ll want to soak them in water to ensure a good bond with the mortar.

Once again, you’ll carefully lay the bricks with a layer of mortar in between each. If you have a form, this will help you ensure proper spacing between each side.

A form will also help hold the top bricks in place as it cures… So this is useful to have!

Once you’re all set there… It’s time to install the flue.

5. Install the Flue

The installation of the flue can differ widely depending on the kit you purchase.

Fire Brick Co actually makes an entire piece that sits perfectly over the archway of your oven. In most cases, there will simply be a hole in the top of the dome you’ll fit the flue into.

No matter how your pizza oven kit is designed… It will involve adhering the flue to your oven using a layer of mortar.

And yet again, you’ll wait for this to cure before moving onto the next step!

6. Insulate the Pizza Oven Dome

It has come time to insulate the dome of your outdoor pizza oven DIY.

Of course, the insulation material may differ between kit brands… But most often, you’ll find a ceramic fiber blanket in the kit.

Before you wrap the dome… Make sure you wear PPE! The fibers from this insulation are dangerous to inhale, so be safe.

Otherwise, this step is fairly simple. You’ll wrap the entire surface of your dome with a layer of ceramic fiber.

If you have some strange gaps here and there… It’s simple enough to cut off a piece of the blanket to fit that spot.

After that’s settled… You’ll wrap the dome with chicken wire. This provides a surface for the finishing material to adhere to.

Once complete, let’s move forward to step 7.

7. Rendering or Cladding the Dome

The end is getting close!

This is another step where various kits may differ.

In the case of the Fire Brick Co… They use a perlite render to complete the exterior of your pizza oven. This will then be covered with a sealer to protect it from moisture.

More often, you’ll actually apply a cladding material (refractory mortar) to prepare your oven for finishing.

So again, you’ll cover the entire surface of your dome with a healthy layer of refractory mortar.

Use a float to smooth out the surface as best you can… And allow it to cure.

8. Finishing or Sealing the Dome

Once your layer is cured… It’s time to finish up the outdoor pizza oven build!

If you’ve used a cladding material on your dome… The easiest way to finish it is with a layer of stucco. You could also finish it with brick or stone, if desired.

Now, the Fire Brick Co kit encourages you to seal the dome instead. They’ll provide an acrylic roll-on material to paint on the exterior of your dome.

In either case… You’ll allow the finishes to completely dry.

Once that’s done, you’re ready to enjoy your oven!

Does this still sound like a little too much work?

An Even Easier Alternative for Delicious Pizza

rta outdoor kitchen paired with an alfa pizza oven that is ready to enjoy

What if you’d rather not be bothered with all the effort a DIY pizza oven project brings? Even a kit comes with a long task list attached.

If you’d prefer to avoid the stress of a traditional outdoor DIY pizza oven build…

Consider an RTA outdoor kitchen with a prefab pizza oven from Alfa!

You’ll get the best outdoor cooking experience, with hardly any effort on your part! (It’s truly an easy outdoor pizza oven!)

An outdoor kitchen from RTA will serve as more than a pizza oven stand or cooking surface… It’s an entire island dedicated to more efficient hosting.

You could have a built-in BBQ grill, outdoor refrigerator, sink… The possibilities are nearly endless.

Plus, assembly couldn’t be easier.

The islands will arrive to your door as a set of concrete panels and countertops. You’ll fasten the panels together with L-brackets, place the countertop, slide in appliances… And you’re done. (No need to mess around with concrete blocks!)

But let’s get back to that pizza oven, shall we?

Alfa manufactures an impressive line of authentic, Italian-made pizza ovens. (Or you can use it as a bread oven!)

They also offer both wood-burning and propane gas models… So you can even take your pick of fuel type!

Their backyard pizza ovens also come with a modern, European-style finish. So if you’re after a modern outdoor kitchen design… It’s the perfect pairing!

Curious to learn more?

Check out our Learning Hub for everything you need to know about outdoor kitchens… And outdoor pizza ovens!

Once you’re ready… We’re here to chat!

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.

FAQ

Making a pizza oven requires several complex steps, and a high level of skill. You’ll need knowledge on how to work with concrete, building a stand, casting a pizza oven dome, laying bricks, and finishing the exterior surface.

Normal bricks are generally not recommended for a pizza oven project. Instead, you will want to seek out firebricks, which are designed to withstand far higher temperatures.

The cost to DIY a pizza oven depends on several factors. Judging from how much the average pizza oven kit costs, expect to pay at least $1,000 – $2,000. Although, many projects will cost more than this.

Pavers are not an ideal material for your pizza oven floor. The reason being that pavers may have chemicals that aren’t food safe. Stick with more traditional options, such as fire bricks for the floor of your oven.

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