What do metal decks looks like? Is it just fairly thin metal? I'm trying to figure out if I can, or if I'm supposed to put stones in this thing.
Many deck oven manufacturers ofter customers both options. Some offer stone as their standard deck material but give customers the option of steel. Others, like Roto-Flex (http://www.rotoflexoven.com/
) do it the other way around. They offer steel as their standard with the option of upgrading to stone. I once spoke with a Roto-Flex sales rep and he told me that it would cost severall hundred dollars per deck for that upgrade. If you want to get an idea as to the difference between stone and steel, you might take a look at the specs for a current model of a Blodgett deck oven, at http://www.blodgett.com/Literature/Spec%20Sheets/Deck/961-spec.pdf
, where you will see the materials and thicknesses of the materials used to make the stone and steel decks. In your case, it might not hurt to call Blodgett (http://www.blodgett.com/contact_us.htm
) and explore what options might be available to you with your older Blodgett model. Usually, OEM prices for replacement stones are quite high so you would want to check other possible sources for better pricing if you decide on stone.
There are also companies like Awmco, Inc. that make replacement FibraMent stones for commercial deck ovens, but not everyone is enamored of their particular product because of its particular thermodynamics profile. I would say that the classic deck oven stone is made of a Cordierite or similar/equivalent material.
I might also add, as was mentioned by other members, that screens are also often used with deck ovens, including those ovens using either stone or steel. Quite often, the use of screens has nothing to do with the oven or its deck material. Many pizza operators use screens simply because it is easier to train workers, especially low-cost labor, high-turnover workers, to make skins and to dress them on screens and then just load them into the oven. It is much harder to screw up pizzas when using screens instead of peels. Of course, screens can also be used to keep the bottoms of the pizzas from burning or browning prematurely, as others have noted. Some pizza operators start with the dressed pizzas on screens and then slice them off onto the deck material at the appropriate time. Others do it in reverse, starting with the pizzas on the deck and then slipping screens under the pizzas at the appropriate time.
Please let us know what you might find out or in which direction you decide to go. I am sure that some of our members will be interested in your experience and results.