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Pizza Oven Renovation

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  • Pizza Oven Renovation


    I've read this site with interest for some time now.

    Last year, I undertook a self build oven using many of the suggested methods on here. I made a cast dome consisting of home brew refractory cement (4" layer) and vermiculite insulation (4" layer) and an outer coating of render with added lime (2" layer), the base was made up of a 4" reinforced slab and 4" of vermiculite insulation topped with 2" thick teracotta tiles as the cooking surface.

    The oven worked perfectly as a pizza oven but didn't retain the heat very well due mainly I'd imagine to an insufficient layer of insulation however I could cope with that as I wasn't worried about cooking roasts or bread or other things (certainly initially). My biggest concern was cracking internally and externally which (whilst I expected some cracking) were larger than expected (1/2? in places) and led to me worrying about the weather proofing of the dome itself.

    I decided to build the sides of the oven up with brickwork and fill with additional vermiculite mix and concrete, I've pitched the roof and added slate tiles to weather proof and am very happy with the aesthetic look of the oven and in terms of insulation even after a 4 hour burn the oven is completely cold to the touch on the external walls and roof.
    The problem I have now is the cracking on the inside of the dome, I've ground the cracks out and refilled which seemed to be successful however cracks just re-appear in different places, now I know cracking is inevitable but some of the cracks are getting to be a 1/4? thick which I'm not really happy about. The other issue is that while the terracotta base cooks perfectly it is also starting to crack, although these are only minimal.
    So, my questions are these...
    I was thinking of getting hold of some 4?x4?x1? thick vermiculite based fireproof tiles to line the inside of the dome with, do you think this would be suitable (without compromising the cooking ability of the oven or retained heat) to insulate the dome concrete enough to prevent large scale cracking?
    Also, I have got hold of some 8?x6?x2? heavy duty kiln bricks which I planned to replace the terracotta base with while also adding a 12mm layer of ceramic fibre board under these, would these be a suitable cooking surface for pizza still?
    I'm kind of hoping that these measures would finally finish the oven to a point where year on year only minimal maintenance is required rather than what feels like a yearly major over hall, while also improving the insulation sufficiently enough to allow additional cooking of roasts and bread etc.
    Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks, Jon

  • #2
    Welcome Jon. It sounds like you are right into it and have the job all but done. Some pics would be handy.
    Cheers ......... Steve

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    • #3
      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the reply. Here are some pics or the tiles, firebrick and the oven itself before and after the change with the pitching.

      I've was also planning to lay the cooking base on. a layer of dry fire clay to keep them level, do you think this is the best way to go or do you have a better suggestion?

      ​Thanks in advance


      • #4
        The vermiculite tiles will not be a suitable material to line the oven. Homebrew itself is not suitable for a castable oven as you have found out. You may as well use it to destruction, because there is no practical method of repair.