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Cupolas...what are they?

Date Added: July 27, 2008 06:54:03 AM

Cupolas have been bringing warmth, tradition, and a little country charm to homes and businesses throughout America for hundreds of years as well as providing vital ventilation functions. Cupolas bring back a bit of country to your estate by providing exterior building ornamentation with traditional early American architectural accent. Installed on rooftops, they create an asymmetrical appeal that allows the outside buildings to look there absolute best. What an enhancement for creating curb appeal! Cupolas provide architectural accent to houses, garages, commercial buildings and barns.

The word cupola originates from Latin meaning “small cupo” or little dome, or Italian word “little cup” because of its resemblance to an upside down cup. Cupolas sit at the apex of the roof and are built like a miniature house. By placement of cupolas on the rooftops it provides the most efficient location for removing hot air and moisture.

Properly sized and well placed, cupolas can give your outside buildings a whole new aesthetic appeal. Although they are ornamental, cupolas are also very functional by circulating air and providing an inexpensive light source. Cupolas provide excellent attic ventilation by providing a natural flow of warm, moist air in an upward movement through louvered or window sides of cupola.

Cupolas became a rage in the United States during post Revolutionary days. Cupolas are seen perched on rooftops of churches, banks, government buildings, including many state capitals, and cathedrals. The dome shaped building has become an American democratic symbol.

In the 1940’s, farmers purchased barn kits from catalogs which frequently had cupolas gracing there roofline. Built to provide roof ventilation by circulating air and removing moisture, cupolas helped dry the hay in the barn lofts.

Cupolas are built from wood and vinyl. Wood is the preferred material, as it looks natural and is weather resistant; furthermore it can be painted to match your décor. Also, wood does not retain heat, so hot air is vented out through the louvers or window sides of the cupola. The flow of air helps eliminate wood rot, mildew, and musty odors. One can purchase cupolas with louvers or window sided. It is helpful to have a screen under the louver and windows to keep out insects and birds. Vinyl cupolas are heavier, so there may be extra cost to reconstruct the rooftop the cupola will sit on. Vinyl does not offer as many color options, and the color fades with consistent exposure to the elements.

A properly sealed, dimensional and detailed cupola will add a finishing touch to new as well as older buildings. Many of the cupolas can be purchased weather vane ready to give your cupola that finished look. From residential barns to grand cathedrals, the cupola is a timeless masterpiece and an inspiration to many.

If you are looking to update your exterior buildings, without breaking the bank, why not add a cupola to your rooftop. Cupolas are a classic, early American, architectural accent that add distinction, class, and a little country to the rooftops of your exterior buildings.