Preheating your oven and pizza stone properly is a crucial factor in making great pizza. First you will want to place your baking stone centered on the lowest rack of your oven and place any extra rack at the top. Preheat your oven to to 550°F (288°C). If your oven will not get this hot just use the hottest temperature you can set it at. Remember to use an oven thermometer to check that the oven has reached the correct temperate as some ovens arbitrarily beep after a certain amount of time has passed signaling the oven has preheated but may not be at the temperature it is set at yet.
Once your oven has heated to the temperature set, you need to then allow the pizza stone to continue to heat as the density of the stone takes longer to heat fully than does the air of the oven. Depending on the thickness of the stone this can take 20-40 minutes extra.
Allowing the stone to properly heat up is important as the stone will be hot enough to set the bottom of the dough immediately removing any possibility of the dough sticking to the stone. The retained heat of the stone also gives the yeast risen dough a quick rise leaving it light without a thick; over cooked bottom crust.
Once the first pizza has finished cooking and removed, close the oven door and allow the oven to heat the stone back up to the temperature for 5 minutes or more before cooking another pizza. When a pizza is baked on the stone the pizza absorbs some of the heat and once removed the stone needs a few moments to heat up fully to the desired temperate Think of when you add spaghetti to boiling water, it stops boiling and then takes a few minutes to come back to a rolling boil.
Once finished baking, turn off your oven and allow the stone to cool in the oven completely There is also no need to remove the pizza stone from the oven. Leaving the stone in the oven is safe for the stone and also tends to create a more even heating environment for baking other items like cookies and anything that easily burns. You can also place pans directly on the stone.
If your stone needs cleaning, read our how-to clean a pizza stone article.