The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cooking surface of brick oven.

goer's picture

Cooking surface of brick oven.

I know firebrick is used, but could other things be used like a large piece of slate? Very new to all this so any help appreciated.

Lorenzo's picture

Having built 2 outdoor ovens one of clay (using Kiko Denser book( and one using Bread Builders plans of Alan Scott's observations are.

1. Clay oven had 4 inch clay floor and 4 inches of clay heat sink, held heat and baked very well.

2. 2nd oven has firebrick floor 5inches thick with heat sink of clay and red clay brick 4 inches thick, awesome baking oven. Hold heat extremely well, fire removed at 1PM next day at 8AM still 250 deg. Fah.

In my experience almost any stone will work, its the heat sink in combination with stone/fire brick floor that's critical. I would suggest checking out the stone (slate) you use and how well it holds up to 1,000 degree heat without cracking or disintegration. I used slate tile in my elecric oven it split into thin layers, and fell apart.

That's all folks.

Lorenzo, retired baker


goer's picture

Thanks that's a big help. I'm leaning toward an Alan Scott oven and based on what you said I'll keep that as my primary goal. I was just thinking out loud.


Again thanks Lorenzo


pmccool's picture

It won't delaminate, it has great thermal properties, it is commonly used in stoves and ovens.  Check with countertop providers; they have contacts with stoneyards.  You may even be able to get pieces for reduced prices from a counter-top fabricator, instead of paying top dollar for whole slabs.  If there isn't anyone in your immediate area, check on-line sources.


ClimbHi's picture

As suggested by PMcCool, soapstone would be a great choice for a hearth. It's one of the best materials for absorbing and radiating heat, which is why it's used in the best wood stoves and fireplaces. It has the added advantage of being almost completely non-absorptive, so you don't have to worry about spills as much -- not that you really have to worry about this a lot anyway. It's also very DIY friendly and can be tooled with ordinary carbide woodworking tools. That said, it ain't cheap and isn't very widely available. (Nobody stocks it in my neck of the woods.) 

But I suggest staying away from slab products, soapstone or otherwise, for hearths because if a slab hearth develops a problem, you gotta tear the oven down to replace it. With bricks or tiles, you can easily replace them individually without dismantling the oven. Soapstone bricks and tiles are available from several sources.

Look here:
and here:
Note that even the tile is $15 / sq ft. and a lot more expensive than firebrick.

If you still wanna use a slab, I'd suggest looking into granite. You may be able to get a deal on leftovers from a local countertop manufacturer. Even so, I'd cut it onto smaller segments to facilitate later repairs.

But firebrick works well, and is pretty darn cheap compared to the other options. Just curious -- why are you shying away from firebrick?

Pittsburgh, PA

goer's picture

asking if other things are used for the cooking surface. I was thinking one solid cooking surface, but like you said if something happened to the cooking surface it'd be easier to fix a brick that a slab. Asking because I don't know and this seems to be one of the places to find out. Thanks for the soapstone links.