Surface Bonding Cement (SBC) instead of Stucco?

Any thoughts? I dry-stacked and used Quikwall on the base, and have two bags left over. It’s white, and I can color it to match the base exactly.

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On “Installation Instructions 2.0” we are going to show our customers how to build the cinder block base w/out mortar - and simply use Quikwall (or similar).

PLEASE take lots of pictures of your installation so we can show everyone else how you built a mortarless base. I think more and more pizza ovens will be built this way as it cuts down on materials and time… so plz take plenty of pics so everyone can see the construction process.


For those of you not familiar with Quikwall, here’s Quikcrete’s introductory video:

How to Build a Block Wall Without Mortar

It may not be absolutely everything you need to know about this technique, but it certainly covers everything that’s involved in building a Brickwood-ready base.

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Doing the cinder block base with Quikwall was a no-brainer, I just followed the directions and videos such as linked to by @bikerbudmatt. Used charcoal colored dye, so it is a darkish grey. Mortared and leveled the initial course of blocks using quickwall, filling the blocks where the rebar connected to the slab. Then dry-stacked the rest of the blocks, 4 rows high (wife is short). Applied the Quikwall to the stacks, using 4 bags total. Filled the blocks with regular concrete.

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Did the dome with SBC, it worked out fine. Dyed it the same charcoal grey as the base, but I’ll not claim perfection on matching colors.

It took 4 bags to cover the Cortile Barile dome, with a bunch left over from the last bag. So 3.5 bags is better. After speaking with the Quikrete rep on the phone, I used the acrylic fortifier for all of the bags. No need for moist cure then, and no concerns about bonding between layers. Also, could apply second layer once first was set.

Waited about an hour and a half to start putting on a second layer over the first, which was not rock hard but was set. Not sure total thickness, estimate 3/4" everywhere with more where I applied a lot to round out the shape where there were indents. It resembles a cylinder if you squint a little.

Getting everything right at the entrance was problematic. The SBC wouldn’t stick well, and ended up leaving it well short of the entrance, then going back and using rapid setting cement to do the entrance. Made a little form for the arch out of some plastic sitting around, and used that to get a good shape. Also used acrylic fortifier for that.

Currently curing the oven…on day two.

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Is this the product you used?

Having used it, would you recommend it for others / DIYers?

It is. Time will tell if it works its magic, but we followed the directions and the Quikrete rep’s recommendation and no problems so far. In to day 4 of curing, shell looks great.

The Quikrete sets up pretty quick, so while using the 1.25 gallons per bag (1/2 gal fortifier) resulted in what seemed like an initially soupy mix, we were able to apply it to vertical surfaces pretty quickly.

As a downrange report, the dome and entrance have been perfect, lots of pizzas cooked, so I’d give a thumbs up to the Quikwall used with acrylic fortifier for putting the dome together.

The dome stays cool except next to where the chimney comes out. Insulation works great.


Sounds like a home run! Glad it’s all working out, and here’s to many delicious pizzas (and the people who eat them!) in your future.

Thanks for letting us know!

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Pray tell, what is SBC?

SBC = Surface Bonding Cement

Sometimes the building trades can become as obsessed with initials and acronyms as the aerospace industry. Ain’t it exciting? :slight_smile:

Look at the video linked in a message upthread and you can learn about how to use SBC (which is a Quikrete product) to build block walls by dry-stacking them instead of mortaring all the joints. In retrospect I would have built my base walls that way.

I’m really intrigued by the idea of using the SBC rather than mortar for the base. This is my absolute first major home project, though, and I’m wondering if the mortar would leave me a little more wiggle room for mistakes. For first-time masonry, would you still recommend building the base with mortar?

I think it may actually be easier to use SBC and dry-fit the blocks. If you already have your blocks, try stacking a few and see how easy it is to get them plumb and square. Blocks come from a form, and are considered a “dimensional” building material (like milled lumber) because you can specify a standard block in your drawings and that’s what you’ll get when you order and install the actual materials.

Using mortar on each course and in between each block is a trade skill. There is both a technique and an art involved in mixing the mortar, troweling it properly, fitting and leveling your blocks, and then ensuring everything is “true” before you move on. You can correct for uneven courses below the one you are laying, true.

But with dry-fitting you won’t have uneven courses. The SBC doesn’t add space between the joints. (That also means you’ll lose about 3 inches front to back, maybe 2 inches along the back, and about 3 inches in height from your finished base, but it’s not very significant. Just make sure your four rebar lengths embedded in the base slab are still all over cavities in the blocks.)

For a first-timer, I’d recommend dry-fitting over mortar. And, follow all the instructions about filling the cavities in your blocks with concrete and rebar. If you have enough concrete, you can fill all the cavities and become the proud owner of a tiny blast shelter. I had lots of 4,000-psi concrete left when I was doing the block walls, so now I know where we’re hiding if we ever need to take shelter. :slight_smile:

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Like Matt said, cinder block is dimensional and every block is almost perfectly identical. I ordered 6 or 7 extra in case a few were chipped or whatever and I did end up finding a few that has excess material and caused a 3/16" difference here and there but when I swapped them out, I ended up with a near perfect base. Also keep in mind you’ll be putting a thick layer of mortar on top of the blocks to lay the hearth on, so you’ll have that to even things out if need be. Mortaring block is nowhere near as easy as YouTube videos make it look. It’s definitely an art that you won’t pick up until your last few blocks when it’s too late.
I’m also using SBC on my dry stacked base. I opted to build the hearth and oven first though, just in case those ~2,000 lbs of material caused any compression on the bricks, I wouldn’t end up with a crack in the SBC. Right now I’m waiting for the oven to cure and then I’ll SBC the base while doing the stucco shell.
Lastly, stucco and SBC are essentially the same. Fiber reinforced mortar. You can interchange them. I’m actually convinced they’re identical and prices differently due to marketing.


Thanks so much! I’ll try it and let you know how it goes. So appreciate the helpfulness on these forums!


One more question - do I still need mortar on the bottom course? Or can I dry stack all of it?

I didn’t use any mortar other than the quikwall on the sides. You don’t need it on the bott to level because the blocks are already pretty uniform. If you have a tiny gap, use a composite or steel shim.This thing isn’t going anywhere. I actually think the instructions are overkill with all the concrete and rebar and fill etc.


No question about that. I’ve talked about that with @BrickWood and the reason for that is to ensure that even with no prior experience, the builder has an utterly stable base for the oven—something that isn’t ever going to crack or rock or crumble under the weight of the structure up above. It also exceeds any conceivable building code for a masonry structure.

Because we’re talking about 5 bags of concrete and a few extra lengths of rebar, the incremental cost is maybe $40, and the advantages—again to a novice builder—are peace of mind and a rock-solid oven.

While an experienced builder would be comfortable with the required instruction to fill the voids containing rebar with concrete, I’d advise anyone who’s just getting acquainted with the wonderful world of masonry to fill all the voids and be happy.

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Thanks, all. From the videos, it looks as if quikwall suggests putting a thin layer of the cement down as a bed for the first layer. I may try that. Still waiting for the slab to dry (just poured it yesterday), so will let you know!

I used the quikwall (kicked off the discussion above), it’s been over a year, and it is holding up just fine. I laid down the thin base layer of cement as per the quikwall instructions. Basically just followed their instructions.

Pretty sure it was a lot easier than mortaring the blocks.

Filled the cinder blocks with cement and rebar because why not? Plain old cement is cheap and it absolutely integrates the blocks.

I also used the quikwall for the outer shell of the oven, over the insulation. Once again, holding up just fine.