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Northeast PA newbie ready to go!

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  • Northeast PA newbie ready to go!

    Good morning everyone, my name is Dan and I’m on a quest to finish my backyard with a pizza oven as the centerpiece. A little bit of background first. I actually purchased a 3-piece cast concrete oven “kit” from a local gentleman who manufactures and sells them online. I know, it’s the easy way out, but I don’t have the time to learn how to build one and eventually screw it up. He has made and sold dozens of them, so I figured it was better to use his experience and only have to take credit for making it look good.

    I began a thread in this forum asking how to finish the outside, but was soon made aware there is A LOT more to making it work “correctly” than just gluing the pieces together and lighting a fire. I guess I jumped the gun quite a bit, so I’m here bowing my head and starting over. Here I am now to say hello, show everyone what my plans are and begging to ask questions about the new addition to the back yard. Currently I have the counter where the oven will live already built, so the most labor intensive part is already done. I’ve done block work in the past, so it was pretty easy. The poured concrete countertop was my first attempt, so it came out alright, not perfect, but fine for a rustic outdoor kitchen area. I’m hoping that the 3-piece kit is ready for pick up this weekend and the fun will soon begin.

    I will lay out a few questions that both friends and forum members have made me aware of and see what wisdom can be thrown my way.

    First, let me show you the oven that this gentleman builds and I will be using. Here is the description from his ad as well as a few pictures, “Three piece kit. Pieces can be moved by two or more strong people to get it set. Includes base and two piece dome. Base is made of UL food grade refractory cement. Dome is made of UL food grade insulated refractory cement. Inside cooking surface is 32 inches across, large enough for 2 pizzas at a time. It can be cooked in the way it is or finish it up with stucco, tile, brick or stone. I can finish one for you if that works for you.”

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    This is the base and counter where the oven will be placed. A poured 4” concrete slab, 6” concrete block and a few lintels to span the openings. It’s a basic design but will work for wood storage for the oven and fire pit. The countertop is poured-in-place concrete that’s 3” thick with a 4-1/2” face. I made the opening on the left side for a drop-in stainless steel box that we will be able to fill with ice and store adult beverages and pizza toppings. I think it will work well for it’s intended purpose. When time allows the entire outside will be covered with natural fieldstone veneer, the same stone that we have used on the house, so it will all match.

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    Well, that’s the beginning. I have a bunch of reading to do, lots to learn, but I’m willing and eager, so let the journey begin...........................


    My newbie build thread:

  • #2
    I am going to move the thread to Other Oven Types, it is the best place for you to get feedback on your build.
    Google Photo Album []


    • #3
      Wow, what a view and what a garden.. It's about 60x the size of mine here in the Netherlands. Good luck
      My build 60 cm/24'' homebrew, the Netherlands


      • #4
        It looks cool! 32 inches is not a bad oven. It looks compact, but in fact it turns out to be quite roomy. I would love to see what you can cook, how your pizza will look.


        • #5
          I received a call from the oven builder and my unit is ready for pick-up. Hopefully I can find time to get there this weekend and grab it. I will post pictures when I get it home. Until then, the backyard area where the pizza oven will reside is getting closer to being done. I did it all with boulders, rocks and fieldstone that came from on the property.
          Click image for larger version

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          My newbie build thread:


          • #6

            Greetings from down south... that is from Southeast PA (north of Philly)! Your backyard and the base look absolutely terrific! At least it seems you know what you are doing when it comes to masonry and concrete! That is good. Before I started my build 3+ months ago I didn't even have that experience. Thanks to the information and people on the forum I am almost done. Mine is 30" design/build thread near the top of this forum. It has a lot of pictures that I hope someone will find useful. Since you are not casting your dome not all pictures are applicable to your build but everything else especially about insulation and finishing may prove handy. I have brought my oven to 850F degrees and one obvious advice I can give you - don't skimp on the insulation, both on the bottom and around the dome itself. Sorry if it is too obvious!

            Because of my limited knowledge and experience I can't say much about the dome you are buying. I know people here don't usually recommend using insulating refractory (because it lacks strength?) but maybe the guy making the dome for you knows what he is doing. Best of luck and looking forward to seeing more pictures!

            Last edited by sergetania; 10-08-2020, 04:47 PM.


            • #7
              Click image for larger version

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ID:	431581 Well, here are a few pictures of the oven that I picked up yesterday.Click image for larger version  Name:	CA73D10B-2795-4143-A766-84F240552E3A.jpeg Views:	0 Size:	755.4 KB ID:	431579
              Attached Files
              Last edited by w650gb500; 10-13-2020, 02:00 PM.
              My newbie build thread:


              • #8
                Also, while talking to my better half about what she wants the finished oven to look like, I found out she isn’t crazy abou the “igloo” shape. We spent a bunch of time looking at pictures of outdoor pizza ovens and she is leaning toward a dog house or barrel design and with a traditional brick exterior. So, to surprise her tonight, today I was able to find and purchase approx 600 old bricks to use. They came from the Lehigh Valley Railroad shop in Sayre PA which was built in 1904, so they are well over 100 years old! Should make for a nice looking exterior once we finalize the design.
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                Last edited by w650gb500; 10-13-2020, 03:47 PM.
                My newbie build thread:


                • #9
                  A question for the forum, please read.

                  After speaking at length with the guy who builds the ovens, he gave me a few options on using it. I can simply use it as-is on my counter if all I want to do is cook in it. If I want to do more extended cooking and retain heat, I can wrap it with a blanket and then an insulated layer over that. I’ve read numerous threads and still have a question for you since this is the cast oven forum. At this point, it looks like I will be building some sort of enclosure/dog house around the casting and want to add some sort of insulation around the dome, but I do not want to do a blanket. I need to build the enclosure(brick and stone) and since I’m certainly not a mason, it is going to take a week or so to complete it. Unfortunately it’s out in my back yard and at this time of the year heading into winter, it will be both cold and wet. Since it will be open to the elements, I have another idea but want to run it by you guys first. Can I use a perlite mixture right against and over the cast dome? My idea is to set the floor an begin building the walls up and over the dome. As I’m building, I want to fill the void between the dome and brick exterior with the perlite mixture. It should be somewhere between 2” and 4”(50mm-100mm) thick. In other words, all of the area between the casting and the dog house bricks will be totally filled with the perlite mixture. I’m trying to avoid the blanket being exposed to the elements for a week or better while I do the brick work, so I need to know how the oven might function without it.

                  Your thoughts? Will the perlite mix act as an insulating layer to help the casting retain long-term heat? I will build a form beneath the floor and pour a 2-3” layer of perlite mixture as well. Each evening when I finish, I can cover everything with a layer or roofing rubber to keep it dry from rain, but it will certainly absorb moisture just from the humidity in the air.

                  Thanks in advance,

                  My newbie build thread:


                  • #10

                    The blanket is the best insulation and easy to work with. One disadvantage is it's pricey. Sure you don't want to use it? Also, most effective insulation for under the cooking area is a ceramic board but it's also expensive. 1" of ceramic insulation equals 2" of perlite at best and they recommend 2-3" of ceramic. Also, I really hate perlite!
                    Watching how my oven heats up and keeps the heat I would not build an oven without insulation.
                    Last edited by sergetania; 10-14-2020, 01:07 PM.


                    • #11
                      Hi Dan,

                      It is not optional to add insulation, but essential. If the exterior is not insulated the difference in the inside temperature and the outside will create enormous stresses on the casting and can lead to severe and sometimes sudden cracking. If no insulation is provided between the casting and your supporting slab, it will act as a heat sink and you'll lose het from the floor really fast. Adding insulation around the oven does not increase thermal mass but does greatly help retain heat. The usual under floor insulation is 2" of calais insulating board. The equivalent in cast vermicrete is 4" of 5:1 mix ie 5 parts vermiculite,1 part cement, 3 parts water by volume. If going this route the cast insulation slab requires two weeks of drying in the sun before building over it. Because the calais board is already dry you can build directly over it. This may be a better option for you although it's more expensive.
                      If you don't want to use blanket over the dome the space between the cast dome and enclosure walls can simply be filled with dry, loose perlite or vermiculite. The space should be a minimum of 4" and because the corners will be more than that, they can be filled with empty plastic bottles or fibreglass ceiling insulation.
                      Your oven does not have a rebate to fit a door for retained heat cooking and the flue exit is inside the oven chamber, so if you want to use it for retained heat cooking a shut off valve should be fitted to the flue pipe to prevent heat loss there.
                      Great job on the supporting structure and the fire pit area by the way.

                      Last edited by david s; 10-14-2020, 01:27 PM.
                      Kindled with zeal and fired with passion.


                      • #12
                        Gentleman, thank you for the replies. I appreciate your incite and opinions, but since this morning, things have changed. A LOT!

                        While looking through other build threads, another forum member, loganc10, mentioned purchasing Thermo1200 through a company called Distribution Interntional, so I took a look at what they had to offer. Turns out it is CaSi board is Thermo1200 and just what is needed for an oven build. I looked at all of their locations across the US and turns out they have one 35 minutes from my house! Well, I had business in the next town over anyway, so I took a swing by to see if anyone there would even talk to me. Much to my surprise, one of the guys in the front office seemed intrigued with what I was using the board for and spent 20 minutes looking up what they had to offer and even took me back into the warehouse to show me the product. I could believe how helpful he was. While back looking at the insulting board, I asked about the insulating blanket and he walked me over to the area where that is stored! It’s like the planets were aligned today and it was just meant to be. So, long story short, I ordered 18sq-ft of 2” board which will give me 4” below the floor and 50sq-ft of 6# x 1” ceramic insulating blanket.

                        Looks like the direction of the build has changed a little bit. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to insulate the dome or floor, it was simply a race against time and the weather. The guy gave me an incredible deal and the total was only $155. The cost was never an issue either, I was just worried about building it outside at this time of the year. It gets cold in the evening, there is dew on everything when I wake up, so there is obviously a lot of moisture in the air and I didn’t want that to compromise my build.

                        So, I’m going to install 4” of CaSi board underneath, wrap the dome in at least 3”or 4” and then proceed to fill the area between the insulated dome and doghouse with either loose perlite/vermiculite or a mix. I know at this point it will be a much better build and more inline with how the rest of you guys successfully build your ovens. I plan to cover it nightly with a piece of EPDM rubber roofing to keep it dry and I can even put a lightbulb under the rubber to add a bit of heat. If necessary, I can use a small heater every night should the need arise.

                        Again THANK-YOU for the advice, which I knew was right, I just needed a bit of divine intervention to move it along. I will keep everyone posted as each step evolves and look forward to hearing from you.

                        My newbie build thread:


                        • #13
                          It all just falls in place as you learn and build. Impossible to overestimate the wealth of information on this forum.

                          Are you somewhere between Towanda and Tunkhannock? So many good memories fishing the North branch!
                          Last edited by sergetania; 10-14-2020, 03:30 PM.


                          • #14
                            I’m in Dallas but on the far side headed toward Tunkhannock. If you ever get up this way, hit me up. If the oven is done, we can fire it up and have a few cold ones.
                            My newbie build thread:


                            • #15
                              OK gang, next question before moving forward. I’m adding another row of 8” concrete blocks on top of my counter to get closer to the correct height. On top of them I will be adding either 4 or 6” of CaSi board and then the base of my oven. How do I secure the insulation board to the concrete blocks? Should I just set them there? Obviously I don’t want to use mortar, but can they be secured with some 3M Fire Block FB136? How about when I put the oven base on top of the insulation? Just set it or use some of the same sealant? Everything I read says to keep moisture away from the CaSi board, so can it be wrapped in aluminum foil to stop moisture from softening the board? It’s going to take me a bit of time to get this built and it will certainly rain a few days during my attempts at masonary work, so will simply putting a tarp over the whole thing be good enough? There won’t be any direct rain/water contact, but should I be concerned with humidity as well? In my mind, aluminum foil seemed like a good idea but don’t know if it is counterproductive if I wrap the insulation with it.

                              As always, thanks in advance for the advise.
                              My newbie build thread: