If you recently paved your walkway or patio, you may have some ceramics left over. While it may seem like a good idea to use the excess to build a pizza oven, it’s not really as simple as all that. So, can you use pavers for a pizza oven?
On the outset, the answer is a resounding no; especially if it’s concrete. This is because of the various chemical compositions and blends that can go into any given paver. The heat and chemicals can create a contamination situation that will make you very sick. In fact, you can end up in the hospital or worse because of it.
However, if you know the composition is red clay or firebrick and you’re certain sure about it, then it should be fine. Therefore, it’s best to buy firebrick intended for cooking and baking to be safe. We’ll review all potential materials so you get a better understanding of what’s appropriate and why.
Best ; Worst Pizza Oven Material
As long as the bricks you have are 100% clay and fired in a kiln, they are perfect for a pizza oven. But, if it’s something like concrete, do not use it for this purpose. Not only is concrete unable to withstand the temperatures from a pizza oven, they can emit contaminants depending on what the manufacturer used to make it.
If you’re wondering if can you use pavers for a pizza oven, understand that the type of brick matters. The heat emitted from the high temperatures within the oven and how long you expect it to last will play into this equation. Therefore, firebrick or red clay is the preferable material for an installation.
Concrete is the worst thing to use for a pizza oven. It’s substandard material for such a purpose even though it comes in a variety of shapes, patterns and colors. While it’s excellent for all kinds of construction projects, being very versatile and practical, it’s not ideal for cooking.
This is because concrete comprises water, gravel, cement and sand. These then pour and dry rather than go into a kiln for firing. This is what makes it unsuitable for high temperatures and the chemicals within it can contaminate food. This, in turn, creates illness and possibly death.
Besides, the deterioration of concrete under heat tension will cause them to explode into shrapnel during the first use. So the main takeaway here is this: NEVER USE CONCRETE! Having said all that, you can use concrete to secure the perimeter of the oven, providing a protective barrier between it and your lawn or home.
The best and safest material to use for a pizza oven is firebrick. The design lends itself to handling high temperatures and often used in things like fire places, fireboxes, furnaces and etc. These often contain fired clay comprising silica and alumina, making it look white and withstanding temperatures as high as 750°F or more.
While these also come in a variety of shapes, they are not likely to flake (also known as spall) or crack due to heat. Indeed, it takes quite some time for them to succumb to consistent heat tension and breakdown.
The more traditional house brick is red clay. These too come in several sizes and shapes with a lovely terracotta color. Like firebrick, they have an admixture of silica and alumina but they can be solid or hollow in their core. If you have excess red clay bricks lying around, they’ll do well for a pizza oven.
While these are an excellent option, you have to be careful with hollow ones. You have to fill them with mortar before putting them in place for a pizza oven. Also, if you have a red clay brick paver used on the driveway or patio, they may not be very heat tolerant.
Therefore, if you choose red clay, make sure you know what it comprises, how high its temperature capacity is and what its firing process was. One more note, however: these will not last nearly as long as firebrick. Expect a short lifespan for your pizza oven when using red clay.
Reclaimed or Recycled Bricks
Many people have been able to use reclaimed or recycled bricks, specifically red clay, to build an outdoor pizza oven with great success. However, there are some caveats to note before you jump onto this bandwagon. They should be completely solid and never hollow.
Then, it should be free of dirt, water damage, rust, rot and decay. You can clean and dry them yourself, but if any staining or debris remains after, do not use the brick. This is because things like water damage, rot and other stuck-on gunk can create a contaminated environment for pizza, bread and other baked foods.
Finding ; Purchasing the Right Brick for a Pizza Oven
To determine an answer to the question, “Can you use pavers for a pizza oven?” Firebrick or red clay are the top options. Firebrick is king for a pizza oven but it’s also quite pricey. It can cost about $3 to $7.50 per brick. If you want a big oven, this is going to get expensive.
However, you can keep your eye out in your area for places looking to rid themselves of excess building materials. In some cases, you could get lucky and find it for as little as $0.50 for each brick. Red clay bricks run the range of $0.55 to $1.00 per brick, which is infinitely less expensive.
Alternatives to Firebrick ; Red Clay Pizza Ovens
There are other building materials you can consider using. If you have granite, marble or soapstone, these will be great for a pizza oven. They hold up to high temperatures and provide even heat distribution.
- Granite: This is very hard and durable, coming in a wide array of colors, patterns and sizes. It can be polished or unpolished since both can handle the intensity of wood fires. Therefore, it makes for a great material in pizza ovens.
- Marble: Even though softer than granite, marble is incredibly heat resistant. Like granite, you can have it polished or unpolished and it comes in a wide range of options. But, it’s more expensive than granite and it can be far too costly for a pizza oven.
- Soapstone: Since soapstone is a metamorphic rock resulting from high pressure and heat, it makes a perfect substance for a pizza oven. It has great resistance to extreme temperatures but it is somewhat soft and may crack sooner than even red clay brick.
So, to solve the mystery of, “Can you use pavers for a pizza oven?” In most cases, the answer is an emphatic no. The only exceptions are if the pavers are firebrick, red clay, granite, marble or soapstone. You can use reclaimed or recycled bricks, but you will have to wash them well.
One material you should never use, however, is concrete. It will explode and the admixtures it comprises can contaminate your food. The only place you should use concrete for a pizza oven is on the outer perimeter to protect and secure the lawn, people, pets and your home.