Adding Beauty and Functional Ventilation to a Home or Office Architects often use a roof cupola as a decorative design touch on existing and custom homes that adds instant curb appeal to the structure. They are also used in commercial buildings. They can be mounted alone, or combined with a weathervane and/or finial. In Latin, the word cupola translates into little dome, or small cup.

Many of the cupolas installed today are used more as a decorative feature than a functional component to the roofline. However, this was not always so. Cupolas were originally used as a belfry, as a belvedere (look out), as a sky light, or for ventilation. In the olden days, it was often referred to as a lantern when it emanated light at night from the interior of the structure.

cupolas 101

An Accent Ornamental Piece

Today’s cupolas remain a very popular accent ornamental piece that is often prominently placed on top of a roof or dome. They are also constructed on top of little buildings that often resemble a tiny structure on top of a small structure. Cupolas are often positioned on top of garden pavilions and gazebos. Mainly, functional cupolas are installed on roofs as a way to ventilate loft spaces or tight attics. Some architects use a cupola as an effective decorative light source (skylight).

Although they can be crafted out of a variety of materials, the most popular cupolas are manufactured out of copper. This is because of the longevity of the material, and its ability to withstand outdoor environments. A copper cupola can be shaped into nearly any style to meet the architectural requirements of the residential home or commercial structure.

The beauty of copper is resolute in how well it weathers over time. When left untreated, the copper cupola will begin to develop its own natural patina. The patina safeguards the metal below and prevents it from corrosion. The beautiful luster of the patina creates an aesthetically pleasing mixture of turquoise green and blues mixed with browns and blacks. Alternatively, the copper cupola can be treated so that it never reacts to the outdoor elements, and maintains its shiny new copper appearance.

Retrofitting a Cupola

Many homeowners choose to retrofit their rooflines by installing a copper cupola to add character and interest to the structure and roofline. This one significant architectural component can add instant viable curb appeal to the structure. When installed for ventilation purposes, it can remove captured moist air inside the attic. This will provide prevention against a huge assortment of problems including mildew and mold, rotting wood, peeling paint, and other issues.

Proper ventilation is a key component to keeping the roof structure in good condition. Using a cupola for proper ventilation is essential in humid climates and along coastal areas. The cost of installation is minimal, when compared to the money that could be spent on repairing moisture damage in the attic of the home or office.

While cupolas are usually seen as an architectural component on colonial structures, their popularity is growing. They can now be viewed on rooftops of the county courthouse, on cathedrals, atop gazebos and homes, and even on a birdhouse. They are crafted in a variety of architectural styles that are ideal for contemporary designs and Victorian homes. They are especially popular in certain areas of the country, especially in the South. It is challenging to locate a stately manner that is over 100 years old that does not display a beautiful cupola.

The cupola remains a popular architectural design for residential homes and business structures. They continue to reflect the beauty of historical architectural design in a variety of contemporary and traditional styles. Click here if you would like to browse our selection of copper cupolas.