Pizza Oven Floor is Cooling Too Fast

I have no issue bringing the walls to 800+ and the floor to 500-600 but after the second pizza the bottom is staying undercooked and the top is perfect. I built everything to specs and followed exact mixing ratios, am I doing something wrong? Am I supposed to reheat the floor every 2 pizzas?

Last question: anyone using some sort of shield to slow down the cooking process?

Hi, Welcome to the forum.

To me it sounds like your not letting the oven heat soak long enough. I usually get the top to about 1000 and the floor to about 800. It takes me over an hour to do this. To heat up the floor you need direct contact with a lot of hot, glowing coals so I start with a good sized fire to generate the coals and keep adding wood (3-4 pieces at a time) to keep the blaze going.

I also start the fire right where I’ll be cooking and, as I add wood, I’ll grow the fire towards the back of the oven so that I have primarily coals in the front and most of the fire in the back half of the oven.

Typically I can cook 5-6 pizzas before the deck gets below 600 at which point you move the fire around to reheat. Some people move the fire side-to-side. I’ve tried that but have settled on pushing the fire to the back while cooking.

One other hint: Don’t give up :slight_smile: It took me quiet a few attempts before I found a method that gives me the results I want.

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Hi Bashar, and welcome to the BrickWood forum.

Everything Ken @kgondoly said is spot on, and I just want to second his final word of advice about patience. It’s a learning process, and it’s taken a season of fires for me to feel confident that I’ll get the fire I’m looking for.

As for a shield: yes, there are times when it is necessary. Last evening I baked a focaccia bread, which requires a much slower fire than pizza. I’m using a cast iron quarter sheet pan. I have to shield the side closest to the fire at all times or it will char quickly. A sheet of aluminum foil, slightly crinkled, does the trick. You are shielding from infrared heat rather than the direct flame.

Keep at it, and let us know how things progress for you!

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Thank you bikerbudmatt and kgondoly for the advice and comments. I am a fisherman so I am all about patience :slight_smile:

I am pushing the coals to the side rather than the back but I will try the back next time.
I appreciate the tip about using aluminum foil. I was at a local tile store this morning shopping for mosaic tiles for the oven and was chatting with one of their employees, he mentioned that he built a similar oven and he put two layers to metal sheets under the firebricks and that helped tremendously with hearth heat retention. Too late for me, but I wanted to share in case anyone wants to try it for new builds.
Thanks again

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I would avoid the advice of using metal sheets under the firebricks. You want insulation between the firebricks and the supporting structure, not conduction. Sand and the perlite/vermiculite layer prevent the concrete hearth slab from wicking the heat away from the floor of your oven. Metal will speed the heat transfer into the hearth slab.

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This might be over doing it but I fire the oven for around 2 hours before cooking. A laser thermometer is critical! After I brush back the coals I’m looking for 700-800 on the floor. It will sometimes get up to 1000 and I simply just wait for it to cool down a little before sliding a pie in.

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I don’t think I’d go that route. The layers in your oven hearth are:

  • Firebrick heat retention and refraction back up and into your food
  • Sand neutral layer primarily there to level the firebrick
  • Insulation a thermal break to stop, or at least slow, heat transfer to the foundation layer
  • Concrete the foundation layer that bridges the load of your entire oven between the vertical supports of the concrete block base

If you add a layer of metal sheeting between these solid layers, it will promote more rapid conduction of heat away from the firebrick.

When I mentioned aluminum foil, it was in the context of cooking when I want to shield food from infrared heat, which is transferred as light waves through the air. That’s where metal can help, because it is an opaque layer that won’t melt at these temperatures. It is still conducting heat, but not as much as you’d think because in the air convection also comes into play and hot air rises.

In the solid layers of your hearth, infrared heat won’t come into play because your firebrick are also opaque. So the metal will conduct heat without blocking infrared waves.

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I also had issues with the floor cooling too quickly. It took multiple attempts over a year’s time (so patience is key!) but here’s what I found:

  1. I used vermiculite, not perlite, as part of my insulation in the floor. Vermiculite absorbs water, unlike perlite, so it seemed like we had steamed pizza at first. After many (6 or more?) HOT fires, this problem went away

  2. Definitely build your fire over where the pizza will go and then push it to the back. It’s helped to push a little of it to the side which seems to keep the floor hotter longer.
    3} I wondered if the fire brick I used for the floor was of the optimal mix of silica, etc. So I purchased a baking stone and put it over the brick. It seems to cool fairly quickly but it measures hotter (850 degrees) than the fire brick did (less than 800 degrees, typically). here’s the one I bought:
    Avantco 18" x 18" Square 13/16" Thick Cordierite Pizza Stone for Countertop Pizza Ovens (avantcoequipment.com)

  3. pizza cooking technique: Our crusts are probably not as thin as they should be so, after turning with a pizza peel to get the sides done, I’ll lift the pizza up near the top of the oven for a minute before taking it out.
    I’m still not fully satisfied with heat retention and, yes, I insulated it exactly according to the instructions.
    I’m having to rekindle/re-fire the oven after every 2 - 3 pizzas so now I’m considering using propane to boost/maintain the internal temp.
    Any suggestions for how to do this to an existing Mattone Barile oven?

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Hi Peter!

Having to add a log or two after every 3 pizzas is a pretty nominal experience. You want a bed of glowing coals and flames that reach up and over the top of the oven.

There are some starting points elsewhere on this forum. Here is the FAQ on whether you can do it (and the answer is “yes, for sure”).

Search “propane” and you’ll find a number of threads on the subject. There are some folks who built it in from the beginning. Since your oven is fully built it will take some effort to retrofit it, but I believe that involves drilling a hole for your supply line.

And above all, please, please make sure your oven has plenty of ventilation. Adding a gas burner is a serious proposition because of the CO it produces.

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Another thought: if you’re not happy with your crusts, it may be the recipe you’re using. This post has a link to a book I swear by. The author is an American pizzaiola who, among other things, engineered his Neapolitan (thin) dough recipes by traveling to Naples and Rome and learning from the best.

Invest 10 minutes (literally) in making the dough and 24 hours in letting it ferment in your refrigerator, and you’ll have a thin Neapolitan crust with rich and complex flavors that will bring tears to your eyes and praise from your guests.

Recently I had to make pizza on very short notice, and broke down and bought the ready-made dough in a bag sold by a local bakery in the supermarket. Big mistake—even though it seemed relatively fresh, it kept pulling back in on itself and puffed up like a marshmallow in the high heat of my oven. I would have been better off calling for takeout.

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Question here for Pete do you add the stone at the beginning of the burn or at sometime while the oven is heating. I am struggeling with floor temp at times and the stone maybe the trick. The stone has to get hot so i would think you would add it at the beginning of the burn
let me know. Also i was thinkg of covering the whole floor with the pizza stone this way it is a more unform surface. Another advantage to the stone is that now you are inch higher to the dome.

Hi Dino and welcome back!

It’s certainly one way to go if you’ve having trouble keeping the floor hot enough. I’d check the underlying causes first as mentioned above.

If you want to try it out with a single Corderite stone first you want to wait until you’ve started pushing back your flames. Most stones need 15 to 20 minutes to warm up, and if there’s nothing underneath to help that, they will need longer. But I would think it would get in the way of building your fire, so better it’s out of the way at first.