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Should I buy a precast oven kit, a brick oven kit, or a cast in place oven kit?

So you want to build a pizza oven, or you want your contractor to build a pizza oven for you. What’s the best “type” of refractory oven kit for you?

First, let’s go over a brief description of each type.

A precast pizza oven kit includes the precast oven dome, typically manufactured in multiple pieces, that basically snaps together and is held in place and sealed with refractory mortar. Each dome piece and be lifted and set in place by two strong guys. The oven floor is typically made from firebricks, sometimes in the small 9×4.5″ size, and sometimes in larger formats, such as 12×12″ or 18×18″. Kits come with varying degrees of insulation quality and some do and some do not include a chimney.

A brick oven kit is a bag of pre-cut brick parts that you need to build using a guide and various plywood arch forms. While the dome of a precast oven kit can be assembled and mortared in an hour or so, building a brick oven dome can take many days, or even many weeks. The a brick oven kit saves you the time of cutting all those bricks, building the oven dome still requires a great deal of work, skill and time, mixing refractory mortar and refractory castable, buttering and setting bricks, making sure pieces don’t slide or fall, and building decorative and structural arches.

A cast in place pizza oven kit is a new entrant in the pizza oven kit marketplace. These ovens include all of the components required to build the oven core, with one key difference. Rather than providing the user with precast dome parts, these kits come with a mold and the refractory castable required to build the dome in place. The user assembles the mold, and then mixes the refractory castable and hand packs it again the mold. The resulting oven dome is the same as a precast dome, except it has no seams. Where assembling a precast kit dome can take 1-2 hours and building a brick oven kit can take days or week, building a cast in place kit takes 2-3 hours.

Which is right for you?

Of course the precast oven kit is the sweet spot of the market, with a wide range of choice and price points, making it a safe choice for both hobby oven builders and contractors. You can also find precast oven kits with a range of Dome Designs, including ovens with the lower Naples design, which is optimized for pizza making, and the hemispherical Tuscan design, with has a higher dome for better heat retention and a higher oven opening, making it a better choice for general wood-fired cooking.

And the brick oven kit is an excellent choice for someone who has always wanted to take on the project of building a real brick oven by hand. It’s the project of a lifetime, and buying a pre-cut brick oven kit will save you a huge amount of time compared to building a Pompeii Oven. And don’t forget that while the brick oven kit price starts at around $2,700, the cost of the saw for cutting all those bricks for the Pompeii Oven costs at least $500, plus expensive diamond blades, all by itself!

But you should be aware that there is no low dome choice with a brick oven kit. The task of building a low Naples-style dome oven from discrete bricks and very challenging. The brick oven kit uses a fixed length trammel (a brick laying tool) that only produces a high dome, hemispherical dome, which is sub-optimal for high-end, 900ºF pizza making due to its shape.

Which brings us to the cast on-site kit. If you want a real refractory oven, and your budget does not stretch to a precast pizza oven kit, you should consider using a cast in place kit. The mold shape guarantees your oven will be properly shaped, and the kits use high-end materials, including high compress and temperature resistant refractory castable with added fibers for strength and crack resistance, and large amounts of high-end insulation.

I hope this article has helped you decide what type of refractory pizza oven kit to buy.