Cupolas are dome-shaped ornamental structures designed to sit on top of roofs, which could include churches, libraries, schools, hospitals, and even homes. When shopping around for a cupola, you have two primary choices. First, you can go with a design that is specifically for appearance only. However, the second option is choosing a cupola designed to help with ventilation.
Roofs are the optimal place where heat settles, rising to the top. When a cupola is added to the roof to provide ventilation, this trapped heat has a means of escaping. Other benefits include better overall airflow and even light being able to filter to the inside. This type of air movement also helps by eliminating problems with the wood of the cupola such as mold, mildew, wood rot, musty odors, and even peeling paint. When installed on the roof, the cupola provides natural flow of warm, moist air
Although there are so many gorgeous options for cupolas on the market today, you do want to consider some things. For starters, the greater number of louvers the better the ventilation. In addition, when you have more louvers, the definition is sharper and the appearance of the cupola height is greatly enhanced. Keep in mind that you can purchase a roof cupola that has special locator blocks, which help to secure the base and tower of the cupola firmly to the roof. Then, if you go with a cupola to help with ventilation, you definitely want to use protective insect mesh to keep the bugs outside of the home or business.
Now, when it comes to the installation of the cupola, it could of course, be installed without any type of hole being cut into the roof but in this case, there would be no ventilation benefits. In other words, this would be your decorative choice. The one advantage in this case is that because a hole is not being created, you eliminate the risk of a leaking roof. Even so, long screws must be used and then caulked for protection.
For ventilation purposes, a hole would need to be cut into the roof. Unless you know exactly what you are doing, it is important that you work with a qualified contractor, a professional who is trained, skilled, and licensed. The key here is that the hole in the roof should be about six inches less for both length and width than what the outer base of the cupola would be. This way, the cupola will slide down over the locator blocks with ease, fitting firmly in place.
Using a cupola for ventilation also means metal flashing would need to be installed around the base. Unfortunately, some people will simply caulk but this will deteriorate over time, thus creating the potential for problems with leakage. Therefore, you always want to use caulk on the screws but metal flashing around the cupola base.