Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community (
-   General Building and Construction (
-   -   Timbrel Vaulting (

gmchm 11-10-2011 10:38 AM

Timbrel Vaulting
Going through earlier threads on the Bricks Oven Photos site, I came upon a reference on page 19 under "Stone vaulted ceiling in Puglia" by James, a reference by dmun to Rafael Guastavino, which leads to the discussion of timbrel vaulting and of many beautiful examples of his work and its earlier use in Spain. This appears to be a lost art in the U.S. Has anyone experience in using this kind of masonery work for backyard projects? Thanks Gary

brickie in oz 11-10-2011 10:53 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
Tscarbourough built his oven that way. :cool:

GianniFocaccia 11-10-2011 01:23 PM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
1 Attachment(s)

This appears to be a lost art in the U.S...

The primary advantage of the timbrel, or Guastavino vault was that construction of these beautiful arches required no formwork. The second advantage that won Guastavino the majority of his contracts was that his terracotta tiles were non-flammable. (Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company‎)
Unfortunately, when steel and formed concrete came along, the speed of completing large projects supplanted timbrel construction and it just died. Luckily, there are still examples of Guastavino's work still standing today.
In my dreams I build a second oven (34"?) dedicated exclusively to pizza and flatbreads. It has nearly vertical walls and a super-shallow dome ceiling. It is built timbrel-style of thin (1/2") firebrick tiles, with all inward-facing tiles (floor, walls and ceiling) made of soapstone.

I haven't heard/seen of anyone using timbrel construction in home projects except tscarborough.

Tscarborough 11-10-2011 04:13 PM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
If you want to play with it, buy some cheap glazed tiles and a good quality polymer modified thinset. Small tiles for small radius. For a dome, cut triangles for the base and use the tiles in a diamond pattern. Joints should cross with a minimum of 25% overlap. Thinset them together, un-glazed side to unglazed side. The thinset should be tested on a couple of tiles to adjust the consistency such that the tile should suck the moisture out immediately, but not be so stiff that it holds the tiles apart. 100% coverage on the bedding.

gmchm 11-11-2011 09:36 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
Thanks all. Sounds like fun. Gary

vtsteve 12-16-2011 10:16 PM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
I considered building my vent as a timbrel vault. I was going to cut tiles from flue liners, and just piece it together. I believe the Gustavino vaults were typically three layers thick, set in a herringbone pattern with staggered joints. I ran out of warm weather though (in December!) and just slammed together a brick arch vent. It's almost ready to see fire :)

Gulf 12-17-2011 08:02 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
Very interesting thread. I wonder if unglazed floor tiles could be used to fab a smoke chamber and vent a transition. Maybe, having no glazed sides would allow the tiles to be layerd 3 tiles deep.

GianniFocaccia 12-17-2011 08:56 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
I'm not sure that the unglazed floor (quarry) tiles are fired sufficiently to withstand flue temps. I tried using these as the recommended pseudo-pizza stone back in college and they all cracked in short order. If you could find a crate of broken clay flue tiles that would be ideal.

Gulf 12-18-2011 05:03 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting

Originally Posted by GianniFocaccia (Post 124855)
I'm not sure that the unglazed floor (quarry) tiles are fired sufficiently to withstand flue temps. I tried using these as the recommended pseudo-pizza stone back in college and they all cracked in short order. If you could find a crate of broken clay flue tiles that would be ideal.

I did some searching on that and your right. It seems that most ceramic tiles aren't fired to full temp (2000 degrees) until the glaze is applied. There are still some interesting tiles out there though. Someone would have to be very careful in selecting the appropriate tile for a flu. I found that porcelain tile may be the answer. I listed some of the sites below. From these articles or adds I found out that porcelain floor tiles:

1. Can be a little or a lot more expensive than ceramic.
2. Made from special clays and sands.
3. Are denser and stronger than ceramic.
4. Fired to higher temps.
5. Are strength/hardness rated by a PEI rating of from 0 to 5.
6. The stronger the tile the higher the firing temp.

I did also find that HD lists the PEI rating on all tiles that they offer. Most of what they offer is rated a 4. I don 't know if unglazed porcelain is the way to go, but it would be interesting to find out.

Orange County Tile Contractor | Travertine, Tile, Marble & Granite Contractor |

Porcelain Ceramic Tile Care, Maintenance and Sealing

Porcelain Tile Kitchen Flooring. Natural, Polished, Glazed Porcelain Tiles

gmchm 12-19-2011 12:53 AM

Re: Timbrel Vaulting
Gulf-Thanks for posting the useful information about the different types and grades of tile. It helps me to resolve some of my doubts about the uses of the different kinds of tiles. My thought about the use of timbrel vaulting is that it probable not suitable for high heat applications due to the thin layers and non-heat resistant bonding material being subjected to rapid expansion and contraction. The exception to this, so far, is Tscarbourghs barrel vault oven that uses full size fire bricks. I was hoping to experiment with some inexpensive tiles [not 2 dollar a square foot stuff] to make some garden or pato structures. So far I haven't found any, in this area, except a kind of roofing tile with a heavily textured surface, that probable, would be difficult to bond. Gary

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 10:21 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Copyright ©2000 - 2015, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0
2006/10 Forno Bravo, LLC