The Art of Building Your Own Wood-Fired Pizza Oven

building an outdoor pizza oven kits

Spring is in the air, with Easter around the corner and the unofficial start of DIY season on the horizon. This year, if you’re a little bored with putting up shelves, laying floors, painting, and decorating, why not concentrate on your outdoor space and give yourself a very different DIY project by building your own wood-fired pizza oven?

To get this right, you need to focus on the end goal.  It’s probably a case of you wanting to create your gourmet pizzas at home and become an expert at artisan pizza baking.  You probably also want to entertain friends and family and throw a few garden pizza parties.  You will undoubtedly wish to enhance your time outdoors by having this exciting and interactive outdoor kitchen equipment. 

Impressing the neighbours will also be high on the list!

How to choose a DIY pizza oven kit

To hit all of these goals, you must buy a DIY pizza oven kit constructed of suitable materials.  Something made from concrete or sub-standard construction material that won’t work with an oven operating at over 400ºC is a wrong move.  All you will do is spend time creating something that will quickly fall apart and need replacing.  Filling a landfill with yet more throwaway products should not be your aim.  Similarly, you should not be wasting your money.

Worry not, however. If you buy a DIY pizza oven kit from Orchard Ovens, it will come with the Valoriani stamp of quality. Have you heard of Valoriani? Well, they are the world’s leading commercial and domestic manufacturers of wood-fired ovens, based in Tuscany, just 23 km southeast of Florence. 

They are a family firm that prides itself on an artisan approach to pizza oven manufacturing, including the components that go into its DIY pizza oven kits.  These are made from the same firebrick as the Valoriani ready-built ovens – a perfect material for your home pizza oven self-build project.

Valoriani invented pre-fabricated oven kits in 1945, and the concept was protected under patent until 1995.  It is not widely imitated but never matched or surpassed.  Valoriani self-build pizza oven kits are at the pinnacle of functionality, quality, reliability and longevity.

Valoriani now has a presence on every continent. It is known as the brand that other pizza oven manufacturers aspire to be. That’s why so many celebrities have had an Orchard Ovens-supplied Valoriani oven specified for their home pizza oven or choose to buy Valoriani:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Gary Barlow, Jamie Oliver, David Beckham, former Ferrari team principal Ross Brawn … the list goes on and on.

How easy is it to build a pizza oven yourself?

But how easy is it to build your own oven using a Valoriani pizza oven self-build kit? The answer is that it’s not that difficult at all if you have good DIY skills. Some customers are more than capable of doing the whole thing themselves, from start to finish. Others construct the base for the oven and then let the Orchard Ovens team build the oven on top. If necessary, the Orchard Ovens team can do the whole thing.

The domestic kit comes with everything you need, and you have three different choices of DIY pizza oven kits available—the FVR, the TOP, and the GR. The kits start at around £1500 to buy (FVR) and go up to around £6000 (GR), depending on which one you choose. 

The difference between a £1500 and a £2000 kit mainly concerns internal dimensions and other elements. You can also move up the monetary scale by opting for a larger-dimension oven, according to how much you want to cook and how many homemade pizzas you wish to have bubbling away at any time.  A 100cm oven might suffice, but a 120cm oven might suit you better.

The £6000 oven is really one intended to be used for professional commercial use. Having said that, many homeowners want that size and quality of oven and intend to get full personal use out of it.

What is included in a DIY pizza oven kit?

Whichever kit you go for, you will receive a Valoriani cooking floor in sections, with the number of sections dependent on the oven size selected.  For two of the kits, this will be a classic cooking floor.  If you want to opt for the professional oven kit, you can choose a classic cooking floor or a Neapolitan one.  The latter is specially designed to create the Neapolitan pizza art form – distinctly different from other pizza styles.

You will also receive a Valoriani dome from the finest cotton clay.  Once again, this will be in sections for you to assemble.

You will also get the components for the oven mouth—an attractive, rustic-style decorative arch, complete with door. For the FVR, this is a classic “offer up” steel door; for the TOP, it is a hinged ceramic door in a metal frame with a thermometer. If it is a GR model, it is an “offer up” steel door. GR models also include the provenance of a steel plaque with the Valoriani serial number.

Your oven needs a chimney flue system, so each stove has a manifold to connect.  Depending on the kit you choose, this could be made from clay or metal. Every flue solution is different, so this is not included in the kit, but Orchard Ovens is happy to advise according to your personal requirements and then source components at competitive rates.

These are the main components you will need to put together to create your wood-fired pizza oven and add a different patio cooking appliance to your garden or outdoor space. 

Your outdoor pizza oven can then quickly be built using the fire mortar included.  It also needs to be well-insulated.  Orchard Ovens offers a wide range of insulation packages to suit your oven design, which are available in addition to the kit.  Full instructions are provided, and you will have a 7-day helpline back at Orchard Ovens should you have any queries.

How does the self-build pizza oven process work?

The kit has been well thought-out, allowing you to assemble your first-rate DIY pizza oven.  You will get a six-month warranty for that DIY-built oven.  Should the Orchard Ovens team handle the assembly, this can be increased to 24 months.  However, if constructed correctly, we know these ovens will still be operating after 18 years, like new ones.

However, the kit is just the pizza oven itself, so you must prepare a base on which it can stand.  This is a vital part of your project that you must factor in, as the base needs a solid 6-inch concrete slab.  The usual method to create this is to build some perimeter walls and then fit span-like lintels across the structure.  The aim is to create a six-inch tray into which to pour concrete.  The base needs to be as smooth as possible, as this is the structure on which you will fit your pizza oven floor pieces.  There are some special techniques involved and some definite do’s and don’ts.  After you purchase a DIY pizza oven kit, Orchard Ovens will happily share these trade secrets with you.

What steps are involved in building the pizza oven?

When building your oven, once you are sure the base is prepared and thoroughly dried, with a surface as flat and smooth as possible, you can centralise the arch on the slab and lay out the floor pieces behind it.  The floor pieces should create a smooth internal oven surface on which it will be impossible to catch your paddle when you cook. Your initial base also needs to be large enough to cater for the oven dome, the insulation that fits around it, and any outer finish that you put around your insulation. All will increase the footprint.

The dome is fitted together on top of the floor, with mortar across the external male and female joints you brought together.  You must ensure the inside of the dome is as smooth as possible so flames do not hit any lips on the oven roof.
The outside does not need to be perfect. 

Just as a side note, Valoriani ovens are designed so that if you have a problem with the oven floor in the future —which is rare—the floor can be repaired or replaced through the mouth of the oven.

Attach the manifold, and then you are ready to insulate. The insultation process, usually a mix of thermal blanked and vermiculite, will vary depending on the finished design you are building. Once you have purchased your kit, Orchard Ovens will be happy to advise on the best method for your personal situation.

To complete the pizza oven project, the simplest and cheapest finish is to apply mortar to the outside of the dome. Again, there are some special techniques and must-not-do things that Orchard Ovens can discuss with you once you have bought the pizza oven kit.

Should you go further than this, you can create an entire surround for the oven in whatever style or form you want.  We would be happy to advise you on this, and you can gain some inspiration from the gallery on our website.

What if I lack the DIY skills to build a pizza oven?

If all of this sounds a little daunting, you can ask the Orchard Ovens team to create your base and assemble the oven or the stove on your base for you.

If you decide that you would like them to handle a bespoke oven build for you, using a pre-fabricated oven from the Valoriani range rather than a DIY kit, they can do that, too.  A site survey will be arranged, and your preferences will discussed, from the stone you would like to use for the oven surround to the wood storage area you might like to include and any theme you want to adopt.  The team has created everything from the Taj Mahal to a Swiss Cottage and everything in between!

Whichever route you choose—a full DIY pizza oven build, a partial DIY approach, or using the Orchard Ovens team’s skills and expertise for a bespoke build—you will have a first-class oven in your garden and should be able to derive years of pleasure from it. Homemade pizza cooking will never have been as good, and you need not stop there, as your wood-fired oven will cook virtually anything you can rustle up indoors.

The difference, however, will be incredible, with food infused with the smoky flavour that accompanies cooking with wood, plus an outdoor ambience totally off the chart.  It will most definitely provide an upgrade to both your lifestyle and entertainment, and if you have built it yourself, you will be satisfied with having completed a hugely successful DIY project.

To enquire about our DIY pizza oven kits and get the dough ball rolling, call 07743 847647.