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House versus Igloo - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community



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House versus Igloo

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  • House versus Igloo

    Time has come to make a decision about how to finish the outside of my oven. Through the build so far I had it in mind to build a house enclosure. In my mind I had decided this was the right choice for ease of building and less time worry about curing/cracking. I still think those are valid points but may be missing some things. I an envision both styles looking good in my back yard but in the back of my mind - my absolute ideal would be an igloo with some tile work and some sort of a mosaic design. Ease of completion is a major concern at this point. Would like to move on to other items I need ot deal with.

    Here are some things I was hoping to answer before making a final decision:

    Cost? Is one significantly less expensive in materials?

    Is it really easier and quicker to build a house enclosure than an igloo? That is my perception (I am relatively skilled/capable)

    Making the oven 'weather ready/water proofed' is a major concern at this point. Was thinking maybe I could put off the finishing touches till later, this would alleviate some of my concerns. What level do you need to take a house enclosure to be considered weather proofed? an igloo?

    Some other items I might want to consider in a decision?

    thanks for your input

  • #2
    Re: House versus Igloo

    Hi dhs!

    I have an igloo oven that I am going to build a house over to improve my waterproofing. My situation is a bit unique in that my oven has a ledge around it and the slab insulation is below the hearth slab so my hearth slab tends to get wet and cause some problems with hearth temperature. I see the house approach as avoiving a number of potential problems and as a result I favor houses but...I am sure others will say dome. Whatever you do I would suggest waterproofing is the biggest concern.

    Good Luck!


    • #3
      Re: House versus Igloo

      The igloo, with something like stucco finish is going to be cheaper. The igloo is more difficult to make water proof and in practice, I cover mine with a tarp in the winter (lots of rain here).

      Having said that, I think the choices is generally made based on aesthetic values - the igloo is less "bulky".


      • #4
        Re: House versus Igloo

        I too am faced with the same delima, but what I have done to convince myself as to which way to go, AND based upon my availably at home, what I am going to do is 1st do the igloo, and then put the house over it as time permits.



        • #5
          Re: House versus Igloo


          I went throught the same problem, igloo or enclosed structure. I decided to go with the igloo because of the size but also it seemed easier. The latter seemed to backfire on me as I decided I wanted a colored and poured concrete counter which led to a lot of polishing and I couldn't stop there so I had to add some inset tiling. I am happy with the near finished version (needs final exterior coat), and it fits nicely with my patio and deck space. I still believe the igloo was simpler for me, no worries about roofing/chimney interface leaks or leaks anywhere along the roof area.
          Now, with the experience I have, if I ever get to build another oven I may go with an enclosure, space permitting.

          Attached Files


          • #6
            Re: House versus Igloo

            Regarding the relative heat-retention co-efficiencies of an igloo vs a 'house enclosure', wouldn't it stand to reason a 'house-enclosure would retain more heat than an igloo? For a chef wishing to cook the ensuing day(s) using retained heat following a pizza session I would think this might be a significant consideration when choosing an enclosure style. Also, I've recently heard some builders mention that a house-enclosure can benefit from a vent to release trapped oven moisture released into the insulation, which an igloo inherently can not provide. Any thoughts on this?


            • #7
              Re: House versus Igloo

              I actually liked the design of my finished barrel vault shape, but decided on the house for 2 reasons: Cheap and extensive insulation and keeping the insulation dry. I SELL stucco and have for 20 years and stucco cracks, period. In walls, it is not a problem since it is flashed and has backup protection. For an igloo shape oven instalation, there is no effective way to A) utilize control joints to minimize cracking B) provide a secondary barrier and allow for weeps.

              Thus you have to have a flexible membrane or multiple independent layers. Adding tile is a good way, as is using an elsatomeric coating. So it can be done, but in balance I went with the house which I know without doubt will keep it dry (plus if there are ever dome issues, I can access the outside of the oven pretty easily).


              • #8
                Re: House versus Igloo

                I have an igloo design, I love the look of it. To be honest, I had never seen a 'house' design oven until I came on this site. I have my oven under my patio in the back yard, so I have no problem with rain or weather getting to it. Also as it is winter over here at the moment, when we fire it up, it warms the undercover area quite nicely! It may cost a little more, but having the oven under a patio with a fixed perm flue to the outside makes a big difference I think!


                • #9
                  Re: House versus Igloo

                  I chose an igloo because my wife strongly preferred it and because we have a (modest) view that we didn't want to obstruct. I was pretty worried from the start about keeping the oven water tight. It's held up extremely well so far but I do wonder how it will do over the long haul. We get some pretty strong rain in Maryland, but nothing like, say, Florida (where I used to live).

                  There are some basic design considerations that others suggested that I followed (mostly pretty self-explanatory):
                  • Don't leave firebrick exposed--they soak up water and transfer it to insulation, etc.
                  • Keep stucco separate from surfaces that will expand when the oven cycles and cause cracking (chimney, firebrick, etc.). I used a metal chimney and I left a gap between it and the stucco that I filled with high-temp caulk. I also used about 6" of insulation, so the exterior of the oven never gets above ambient temps.
                  • Keep a weather-door on the oven when it's not in use to keep rain from blowing in the opening.
                  • Angle any exterior surfaces (e.g. countertop) so that water runs away from the oven and doesn't pool.
                  Last edited by sjmeff; 07-20-2010, 06:51 PM. Reason: Typo


                  • #10
                    Re: House versus Igloo

                    I've got a clay dome - the "house" design (with ventilation under the eaves) allows the thing to be waterproof but still allows the clay to breathe.

                    It certainly wasn't hard or expensive to build the enclosure.

                    My Clay Oven build:


                    • #11
                      Re: House versus Igloo

                      So could the following not be a hybrid solution?

                      Retain the extra space for vermiculite by going up with the wall for a bit first and then start a wider arch "roof". The extra blanket piece on top is "insurance" that the PVC (any better suggestion? Heavy foil?) will not melt. The advantage of the sheet over the top is to guarantee no water intake even if outer gets time cracked. The outer wall can still be brick, stone, mosaic or what you like.
                      Difference from a standard house is that the arch creates less visual weight at the top and may thus be softer on the eye for those who like the dome shape more. The pics will not pass any ISO drawing standard, but I hope it carries the message :-)
                      Attached Files


                      • #12
                        Re: House versus Igloo

                        Thanks for all the thoughtful input. It would seem there are many areas to consider. After reading over the replies and thinking it over a bit, I believe it is best for me to go with my original thought and do the house enclosure. Weather proofing (and maintaining it over time) did turn out to be the major factor in the decision.

                        @Dolf - the hybrid idea does seem to be a good consideration. Tscarborough seems to be saying a similar thing. That if you can isolate the exterior surface from the internal stresses of the oven (heat) or use a flexible material that can compensate for them, the dome could be less succeptible to the elements over time.


                        • #13
                          Re: House versus Igloo

                          I think a house enclosure is a good choice. I'm already planning my next oven and it will be a house...for the weather/waterproofing aspects and the ability to use more insulation.

                          I'm going to do another oven on a trailer, on the one I recently finished I used only ceramic insulation...no perlcrete on the dome. The next one I'm going to use both. The house structure will allow me place a very weak mix of perlite and portland (maybe 12 to 1...10 to 1 at least) over the ceramic insulation all the way to the top of the walls. With an igloo in a mobile application, a weak perlcrete layer doesn't work (tried it , you end up with a big blob.

                          Good luck.


                          • #14
                            Re: House versus Igloo

                            "which an igloo inherently can not provide."

                            I have a small vent on the top of my stuccoed igloo.

                            But in any case, it doesn't have to be either/or. You can quite happily build an igloo and if not satisfied, add an enclosure over it later.
                            Last edited by Neil2; 07-21-2010, 11:09 AM.