Types of Pottery Kilns


A pottery kiln is a device used to heat the pottery until it hardens and is ready for glazing or other decorative work. There are several types of kilns, which are classified by their type of construction. Typical kilns are either updraft or downdraft and sprung-arched or catenary arched.


In a domed updraft type, the flame is applied to the floor of the kiln at its center point, where it radiates through the kiln, providing heat to the pot in the main chamber. The exhaust escapes through the top of the kiln at its center point.


In a domed downdraft type, the fire is applied at the bottom of the kiln, but at the right side instead of beneath the kiln. The heat circulates through the main chamber before being funneled through the exhaust passageway that leads from the left-hand bottom of the kiln to the left-hand top where it is released.

Sprung Arch

In constructing a sprung-arched kiln, a form is used to shape the roof. The result is a domed roof located upon straight walls, similar to an upside down U.

Catenary Arch

A catenary arch supports itself, and features a gradual continuous slope. The shape is similar to an upside-down V.


Either arch type can be mixed with either updraft or downdraft exhaust types. In selecting the combination, a variety of factors are taken into account, including the type of pottery being fired and the location of the kiln.

Who Can Help

  • American Art Pottery Association

About this Author

Hayley Harrison has writing experience since 1996 with more than 6,000 articles appearing on Answerbag, eHow, Trails and other websites. Harrison holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania, and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.

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