How to Select a Cupola

Cupolas can be described in many ways, however in modern times, they are typically classified as Functional or Ornamental designs.

Functional Cupolas follow original traditional features and are equipped with vents that enable air to circulate through the roof they are mounted on. Functional Cupolas are unequalled as passive vents for maximum air circulation because of the natural thermal chimney effect that they create. Functional Cupolas can also appear quite ornate and always add a dramatic sense of detail to any shed, garage, home or shop.


Ornamental Cupolas can also greatly enhance the look of any structure but do not vent the roof they are mounted on. This group of Cupolas usually come equipped with windows and not vents. In most cases, ornamental Cupolas can also be illuminated at night to create an eye catching effect. In some communities, larger illuminated cupolas can become well known landmarks.

In all cases, Cupolas of any type increase the perceived value of any structure.


After deciding upon your preference for an ornamental or a functional cupola, the size of the cupola you purchase is critical. Cupolas are typically described by the size of their base. A cupola may be an 18" by 18" model or a 36" by 36" model as common examples. A good rule of thumb to follow is to consider a cupola that offers 1 inch of base for every foot of building. In other words, an 18" by 18" cupola will look acceptable on a roof line of up to 18 feet. For a 24 foot roof line, a 24" cupola is appropriate and so forth. It is always better to install a slightly oversized cupola as opposed to one that appears too small and lost on your roof. If for example, you have a roof line that is 21 feet, it's better to install a 24" cupola as opposed to an 18" model.

Lastly, consider your budget. Although 8 sided cupolas look impressive, their intricate construction costs substantially more. About two thirds of all cupola purchases are for standard 4 sided models.

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