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Chimney Caps Design/Fabrication

Custom, Decorative, & Functional Copper

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Back ground drawing courtesy of: The home of John and Dorothy Berrigan in Stone Harbor, NJ. Designed by Paul Kiss of Olivieri, Shousky Kiss, and built by D.L. Miner Construction

 Here's a few example of my more elaborate creativity:

 $12k for this 1/2 scale Lighthouse chimney cap (2010) on the left, Seneca Falls, New York


 and $14k for this 4X scale Crown flue (2018) on the right, Skiatook, Oklahoma

 Below $18k for this Cypress Sweep chimney cap w/pair of Blue Heron bird figures (2019), Abita Springs, Louisianna

 Quick Info Bookmarks:

Our Design Style Catagories Info We'll Need References
Intro: How CBD is different Shape Options Pricing
Why Copper Sheet Metal? Shipping Orders Lead Time
Our Main Advantages Client Satisfaction Fasteners
Sheet Metal Thickness? Minimum Order Installation
Temporary Chimney Cap? Cancellation? UL Listing?



Adding a Decorative Touch (intro):

Some clients think of this as the crowning jewel on their house; built to last a century or more as an heirloom quality product. It is a solid investment in precious metals. These may seem rather expensive, but compared to the cost of a nice gold ring (which could easily get lost) these are a bargain for what all goes into the personal design and workmanship involved. Keep in mind that most of the cost is design, labor, freight, and installation, so using a thinner copper is unwise. Especially when a slight graduation in the thickness of copper gets expidetially stronger.

Better Quality with Thicker Copper:

Below are examples of the custom sheet metal chimney caps built by CBD over the last 25 years. These are made with 99.9% pure copper, copper rivets, a high grade non-magnetic stainless steel spark arrest screen and screws. These chimney cap shells are built with a thicker 20oz, 24oz, 32oz, and some 48oz thicknesses parts. The thickness of copper is based on it's weight per square foot, so the higher the number the thicker the copper is.

We have not used any 16oz copper in any of our projects for well over 20 years. CBD does not even use that standard 16oz copper for roof flashing. Yet, since most clients do not know the difference that thinner 16oz copper is still primarily used by most other sheet metal shops; whom are even willing to work with copper at all. This is a very important detail when considering quotes from other shops. Imagine twice as strong for just a 25% added cost.

If you have an oportunity to feel these different copper thicknesses I highly encourage you to do so. I can mail you a set of samples for $100 minimum charge, which can be applied toward the cost of a project you have us build for you.

Here is an example of the difference in strength between these thicknesses:

16oz copper -V- 20oz copper is only 25% thicker, yet is 50% stronger.

16oz -V- 24oz is 50% thicker, but feels over twice as strong.

16oz -V- 32oz is just twice as thick, yet at least 4X stronger.

16oz -V- 48oz is 3X thicker and strong enough to stand on.
As sturdy as the 1/2" plywood on your roof at just 1/16" thick.

Our current base rate for a chimney cap design/fabrication w/o crate or freight is:
$35 per pound for copper; regardless of the thickness
$25 per square foot for the heavy duty 13ga SS screen we use
$18 per linear foot for the 5/4X6 hardwood used inside the base skirt

A separate charge is added for extra complex, ornate, and curved fabrication details you may want implimented.

Over the last 2 decades of building custom copper chimney caps CBD places our focus on many details not found with other shops at any price. This has been a gradual process I have refined over that time. The biggest mistake most shops still make is soldering copper pieces together. This should never be done because solder melts at just 450 degrees, or just oven temperature. Solder should not be relied on for holding a chimney cap together. Especially since aluminum at a melting temp of 1,200 degrees is not suitable for a wood burning chimney. Where copper is rated at 2,000 degrees. In stead, I build these chimney caps with overlapping seams that are riveted, screwed, and or bolted together. More like aircraft construction. We are not making tea pots here.

In Fall of 2017 I got in my first large shipment in of thicker 24oz copper sheet stock to use for most chimney cap projects since then. This is to replace the thinner 20oz copper I had been using, which was more than what most sheet metal shops are using. We had a few large chimney caps get damaged in transit, so I felt the need to increase the strength, which will also lay flatter; for a less bucked and wavy look across large flat surfaces. Such as the copper roof skin. This 24oz copper at just 20% thicker than 20oz copper may not seem like a lot more. Yet, it adds about 33% more strength or stiffness and dent resistance of these fabrication at just 15% added cost. This will add a bit to the weight, which is good for wind resistance. The majority of what these projects cost is design, labor, packaging, and freight. The minor cost increase for better materials is your wisest investment with any custom project like these.

The most important advantages of our service may not seen as much from the outside. Here is a list of advantages we impliment, which you are not having to ask for or pay extra with a CBD fabrication:

  1. 2X stronger copper than industry standard. We faised out 20oz copper in medium to large size chimney caps for an even thicker 24oz copper sheet stock as of 10/17 for use as our standard thickness (unless requested otherwise by the Client).

  2. Designed with a more subtrantial 3 dimentional shape for a distictive look from a distance, which also makes these a much sturdier construction as well.

  3. A more seamless design for a better looking and stronger fabrication, with fewer visible SS screws and rivets.

  4. Built weather tight w/o caulk or solder, since those sealers can not handle the high heat of a chimney flue exhaust. Solder is not even suitable for a low temp natural gas flue; where aluminum is commonly used. Copper or stainless steel is necessary for all other forms of exhaust; rated at 2,000 degrees. (question: how does this basic logic escape other sheet metal shops willing to work with copper?)

  5. Built with an endoskeleton framework. As opposed to an exoskeleton, or standing seam design commonly seen. This offers a cleaner look and less debris traps. No visible bones of the structure is our goal. (most other shops do not impliment any roof bracing support).

  6. A much stronger 13ga flattened expanded high grade stainless steel spark arrest screen, which adds a good deal of structural strength to these hollow structures. The spark arrest screen is usually deep set into the corner columns under the roof cover ledge. (not flush like other shops tend to make). A rabid raccoon would not be able to claw or chew through this screen. Even tin snips would break trying to cut this screen.

  7. An easier yet sturdier attachment, including a set of custom lift boards roped together ready to use for a smooth installation. (a feature you will not get from other shops at any price).

  8. And one of the most important details is the dense hardwood used inside the 2X taller base/skirt for better attachment and more base weight for stability in wind storms. This is to reduce the risk of these expensive cover smashed on the ground after a wind storm and the damage it could cause to what ever or whom ever it hits.

  9. We also build the sturdiest shipping crates you are likely to have seen: a plywood cover glued and screwed to a solid wood framework. We do not even use cheap chip-board for disposable shipping crates. We also add thick foam cushion padding for shock resistance.

  10. We include the fastening hardware and detailed installation instructions customized to your situation, and offer phone consultation during installation at no extra charge.

Long Term & Short Term Value:
Like with an investments in gold; copper is also a rock solid investment in a valuable metal not subject to depriciation. Like with the rapid depriciation of your savings account. Or worse: a new automobile purchase, which is worth half of what you paid before you have it paid off. Some Homeowners may see these fancy chimney caps as a bit pricy. Although, this same person would not scoff at paying an extra $5k for upgrades to special rims and running boards on a new SUV. Is this not a more lasting value up there as the crowning jewel on your home? Copper cost us us 5X more than the aluminum those rims were made of, which were not even custom hand made, let alone a unique original design. Your house is not likely to depriciate much at all, as long as you keep it up in good shape.

Clearly CBD is the best value for all we put into each project. Unlike other speed-shops a single CBD fabrication typicaly takes a couple weeks to a couple months for us to produce.

Listed on these web pages I've also taken the time to provided you with far more information here than you'll find on any other web site of this nature, so that you can anonymously shop prices before contacting CBD. Each photo links to a full screen image for a better look, or it links to a more detailed web page with many more related photos from that project with a detailed description of that project. Many with step-by-step photos, which you are not likely to see on any other sheet metal shop web site. This helps you compare prices and give you ideas for a personalized quote w/o having contacted CBD yet. Risking to suffer through a high pressure sales scheme, as you have found on most other web sites w/o any prices listed.

There are several of our most popular Tuscan arch style chimney caps shown below, which may looks the same, but they are each unique and have different size bases to give you a better idea of what it may cost for your home. The roof may be wider than the base, or numerous other details that are different for you to choose from. They tend to range in price from $200 to $400 per linear foot measure surrounding your chimney. This depends on factors of: internal pan, ornamentation, and if we need to ship this across the Nation in a sturdy wood crate.

Unlike other shops we are all about custom fabrications, so we do not offer a discounted cost for just copying a previous design. Custom deigns are our specialty, so don't me shy to ask us for something unique and special. Our Clients placing faith in our ability is what has allowed CBD to offer such a wide variety of examples shown on this web site of ours.

You may also find our chimney flashing kits beneficial:

Note: We do not intend to be misleading with prices listed on projects made prior to to mid 2006. Back when copper was 1/2 the cost it is now, so each project is clearly dated and sorted with the latest project at the top and progressively older as you scroll down. I recently added the cost for each project buy the linear foot surrounding the chimney top. Keep in mind the prices listed were just the amount those clients had paid at that time made with a thinner copper, so current prices may not be that low after we had upgraded the copper used from 20oz copper to a thicker 24oz. You can go to our Latest News web page to read more on this subject.

Pictured below are chimney caps I've built in order of the latest - back
They are listed by the clients last name, instead of making up some cute name for each style

Just click on the photos below to see and read more about each project

It has been a gradual process over the years to refine this process of how I design and build these to last and hold up under the elements, while being simple enough to remove for cleaning the flue when required. I will supply the stainless steel screws for attachment. These screws will not need to be driven into the brick or stone. Just apply pressure. Therefore making it secure in high winds, yet still removable decades later with less risk of the screw seizing to the frame.


Links to our main 7 Different
Chimney Cap Styles pages
to see many more examples w/sizes & prices listed for each project

Tuscany Arch Style (31 examples)
Chimney Pots/Flues (22 examples)
Gable Roof Style (14 examples)
Grecian Style Columns (5 examples)
 A Grecian style copper chimney cap for Thomas Hudak in Norfolk Virginia
Monolithic Style (5 examples)
Smaller, Plain, Basic Style
(26 examples)

Curves (13 examples)


What sets you apart from the rest?

We are not a bargain outlet for generic mass produced chimney caps with flat tops made in foreign lands by slave labor working for as little as $0.50 an hour, but CBD is not over-priced for what you get for our custom projects like this.

Given the importance of such a substantial project that may be the crowning jewel on top of your house for the next century or more we understand how important this is for you to invest your $ wisely on a product that will last. Besides being self proclaimed hippies (w/o substance abuse), we have a profound compassion for others (see: mind-temple.com). 

David had been growing his hair out to donate for cancer patients over the last decade, and Tia is a practicing Midwife/Healer.  As you can see David has a unique talent for math, mechanical comprehension, and spatial arrangement. As well as a lot of experience in sheet metal fabrication building his own unique design work and over engineering these to exceed Building Code in most every aspect.

It is difficult to find the best balance between looks, function, strength, durability, and cost. Factors that do not naturally blend together, but rather oppose each other. I do my best to implement each of these factors with the best possible balance, which is key for any well made product.

I place a very high priority on strength. What would be the point of using a life-time metal like copper if it is made with such just a thin copper to save a few $, which will dent or warp from excessive heat. I strive to build these to last well over a century. I build the strongest and heaviest copper chimney caps you will find, along with custom styling (depending on the clients taste), without charging extra for that personalized design work.

Serious inquiries only please, as it often takes over an hour or two in order to make all of the careful calculations to write up a quote. That is even after our clients have taken the time to provided us with good clear information and photos to work from. As most of our clients are not local to us here in the Portland, Oregon area.

 If you are not local to us the installation will have to be handled by you, or you'll need to find a local contractor to handle it. To find a local installer in your area with positive reviews from other Homeowners you can try some Consumer Protection web sites like A's List and Insider Pages, but I would not have any idea who would be available in your State.

Read reviews of Dmr Gutters

Installation is not nearly as hard and dangerous as you might imagine with the right equipment and tools. I've found a local crane operator that has only charged us his minimum $300 for even a tripple chimney cap installation. Then there's just to check the level and tighten the screws. It usually takes the crane opperattor longer to set up his stabilizers than the lift and install. The installer may not be able to stand on your steep roof anyway, so it should not matter if the roof is clear of snow. With as heavy as these are they could not be hauled up a ladder or scaffolding; given the weight limits of that equipment. The the taller base/skirt I make these chimney caps with they are much less likely to blow off in a wind storm even if the screws were not to be tightened at all during installation.

Do I need to pick from just the designs shown here?

No. We applaud originality, so don't be shy to ask for a design not yet displayed here on our web site, or some combination/variation of styles and details. We do not store chimney cap templates for generic designs, so I do not offer discounts for a copy of the same design used before, since I'd still have to draft it all out from scratch to fit your specifications anyway.  This insures the authenticity or originality of each chimney cap made. Other than the 28 chimney caps we built for the Kensington project  (shown below) we have not had a chance to make a second chimney cap of the exact same design and measurements:

Kensington 28 units in Sunnyvale, California

A Tuscan style copper chimney cap set of 2 for Matovich in Setauket, New Jersey

Our Main Advantages:

(a) Better communication through this comprehensive web site, coupled with swift detailed e-mail replies with photos and diagrams. Having personally spent thousands of hour developing the most comprehensive web site of it's kind with thousands of photos. There are even numerous detailed step-by-step fabrication web pages to show you just how we work our craft and the thought that goes behind each project. Also, actual cost break-downs displayed here to give you a better idea of what these really cost for a no pressure anonymous price comparison, that you are not likely to find on any other web site of this nature.
(b) The actual Coppersmith who has lots of installation experience willing to spend the time to work out these details with you through e-mail and over the phone personally, so that you are not going through a middleman sales-person or feeling rushed. You'll be asked the right question, so it turns out the way you want, so there is less chance you'll run into problems while installing. My aim is for you to feel we have done our best to explored all the options to suit your needs before we start fabrication. With your assistance we will be sure to have placed a ceiling cost on your project befgore fabrication starts, so there are no unpleasant surprises. Like you find with most construction project over-runs, which are all to common. Little to no pressure to up-sell you. I'm too busy to mess around with that nonsense. I'm often amaze with what I  manage to create while colaborating together with the inspiration from my clients.
(c) Taller, stronger, and heavier base/skirt sections than any you've seen. I build them this way for additional weight and a more secure attachment. Even without the benefit of the stainless steel fasteners (which I provide); a taller base/skirt it is a lot less likely to become dislocated in high winds, since it would bind up before it could fly off, even if the fasteners fail or they were not tightened down right.
(d) Stronger engineered internal cross bracing framework for good roof support for snow loads or minor impacts. You may find more expensive chimney caps elsewhere that look very fancy, and of course some cheaper ones, but you will be hard pressed to find solid copper chimney caps built to last like ours.
(e) No solder used! I am astonished to see so many other fabrication shops use solder to assemble a chimney cap, when  they must know how solder melts at just half the temperature of aluminum, which is only used for low temp natural gas exhaust. It would logically suffer from the high heat that can be produced inside a chimney cap; causing it to literally fall apart.  I design our chimney caps to be sealed from the rain with healthy overlapping seams riveted together like aircraft construction. At close inspection it may not be the prettiest look, but positioned up 3 stories high on your chimney after it has tarnished within a couple months time makes this hardly an issue and well worth the advantages. In many cases I am able to hid most of the rivets holding it together.
(f) Designed as seamlessly as possible for more strength and a better weather seal. Even if it may not be the most efficient use of these sheets of copper.
(g)  I seem to be less greedy with a lower overhead than most other larger sheet metal shops. Our prices have shown to be less than other custom shops across the country per square foot of copper used. I enjoy my work and would rather not just become a manager of people.
(h)  I believe we are the only shop that has the integrity to weigh the chimney cap upon completion to adjust the quoted price lower to reflect only the copper used in your chimney cap at the rated cost per square foot.  This way you are not paying for the wasted cut-off copper used to make it, let alone a loosely inflated estimate you'll get from other shops. Although, it is common for me to have used more copper than predicted, but you are still protected by the quoted ceiling cost, unless changes were made to the project; with your approval of course.

Shipping: You will see most of our clients are not local to us here in Portland, Oregon, so these prices include the shipping crate and freight. I go out of my way to build the best custom shipping crates you are likely to see, in order to avoid unpleasant delays resolving a damage claim. I pre-drilled and screw a wood frame together w/Gorilla Glue, covered with a hardwood shell that's glued and screwed over this frame (examples shown below). So far only 1 chimney cap had been seriously damaged by DHL in 2006, and 1 minor dent by Roadrunner Transportation trucking back in 2009.

Client Satisfaction:

I cannot guarantee your project will be flawlessly beautiful.  I am human after all, so as with any hand made product these will not be perfect at close inspection. I send out digital progress photos as I'm building most project for client approval well before it ships. I will guarantee it will fit the specification you provide, and built as well as I know how; given the limitations of your budget.  In the case of an issue arising from the client being unsatisfied with a project before it ships; I'll usually bend over backwards to make things right for them, or refund most of the deposit if I have not already finished building it.

Fortunately this has only been a problem with one turret roof cap client (2/08) where we were not able to resolve our differences, and I refunded her deposit, so it could happen. I cannot possibly cover all possible issues here, but if a clients aesthetic concerns conflicts with important design quality I will not compromise my standards. Even if that client is fine that it would void the warranty.

You can cancel a contract without explanation at any time before fabrication has begun. All but 20% reservation fee of that deposit is refundable. The deposit paid may not be refundable after I have begun cutting and bending metal for your project, but I will not hold you responsible for the balance.

Cancellation Policy:

Up to the time we have begun fabrication; if for any reason you feel the need to cancel this contract I will refund 80% of your deposit paid without explanation. I may need to make monthly payment if I do not happen to have those funds available.

This 20% reservation fee is just enough to encourage you to work this out with us, but not so much you feel stuck. I am not interested in holding our Clients to something they do not want. I am way to busy for that sort of nonsense. Customer saticefaction is very important to me, and I want to keep everyone happy, even if we are not to complete a project for you.

After fabrication has begun the intial deposit may not be refundable, but I am known to be very reasonable, so let's talk, and come to a viable arrangement. I just ask that you not start off defensive, as if I am just like any other heartless corporation. Betweek 2 reasonable people there should not be anything we cannot work out.

Company logo name plaque

Here is a commemorative plaque that Teresa Trainor had requested back in 2006, early in the quote process of her $4k copper chimney cap order. We had this sheet of copper engraved at the cost of $80 for her architectural art sculpture we had made. I try to keep my ego in check, so I do not tag all of my projects. Only by request. It would be a $100 option added to the cost.

What Can We Do For a Temporary Chimney Cap?

The simplest and easiest sort of chimney cap you could make is:

(a) Cut a set of 4 2X4 boards, screw the corners together to make a rectangular frame that fits down over the sides of your chimney.

(b) Attach it to the side of the chimney with screws run through the side of the 2X4 boards into the side of the chimney, so the tips of the screws just pinch the sides of the chimney to hold it in place mand not slip down or could get blown off.

(c) Then attach a strap of sheet metal on one side of this wood frame with screws, so they are removable. Then attach the other end to the other side of the wood frame. Like a mini covered wagon.

Sort of like these photos of a rusty steel chimney cap I captured here.

What about the need for Chimney Sweeping?

This is a question I get probably more than any other. These chimney caps I build are removable with minimal effort, aside for being several stories up off the ground. Of course depending on how large it is or how steep your roof is. I even made one pair for a client with the top portion hinged for easy access to the flues, but they lost the advantage of a spark arrest screen. Although, you should not have to worry about needing to take it off for these reasons:

I have been up on thousands of roofs and worked on many chimneys, but I'm not a professional chimney sweep, nor have I ever met one in my travels. Once I tried out sweeping a chimney flue for a client about 20 years ago. It was a messy job at best. I felt I was wasting their money, not being sure how this helps or what good it served. I use to have a set of brushes, but not sure what happened to them. I've even rebuilt several brick chimneys from the roof-line up, as seen in the photo here.

Personally I have never seen a chimney so clogged with what ever they would need to sweep it out for that would have cause an exhaust flow restriction. I've never seen even more than 1/4" build-up on the inside walls of a brick chimney, so I never understood this whole issue. I have heard from clients who were told how creosote build-up can cause a chimney fire, but I've never actually heard of this happening. It may just be a scare tactic to sell you something you don't need. Even if it did catch fire why would that be a problem? Wouldn't it be contained within the chimney? I know when a house does burn to the ground for some other reason the chimney is the only thing left standing. If that creosote did actually burn off wouldn't that be a self cleaning chimney? Maybe that's why I've never seen a substantial build-up inside a chimney.

I have heard about some problems with metal flues becoming dislocated inside the wood chimney box and burning the house down if not just causing a great deal of smoke damage. Or that metal flue pipe becoming a fantastic lightning rod with the same result, so I cannot say I'm a big fan of metal flues, which are rarely sealed properly at the top. Hence the work I do to improve that one issue.

I know it's better to be safe than sorry, but from what I have seen you are better off investing in getting your rusty steel roof flashing replaced with a rust free metal, or having a chimney cap made for it with a spark arrest screen that would be more helpful. A decorative copper chimney cap would add some advantages as well as enhance the appearance of your home; as the crowning jewel, but that is subjective of course.

I hope this helps.


David Rich working on a copper chimney cap


What metal is best for chimney cap construction?

Main Factors: It is hard to find the best balance between style, longevity, strength, and cost. These factors do not naturally blend together. I work to reach the best balance possible on all the projects I build.

(a) Chimney caps need to handle a great deal of heat, unless the exhaust is just from a natural gas source. I have personally stoked up a wood stove so hot the steel exhaust pipe was glowing orange and lit up the living room. It was over 20 years ago, so I was not trying to test this theory. I was just burning some paper and cardboard waste.  You can see these statistics at a web site called Online Metals.

Most metals handle high heat well, but steel commonly has a thin zinc coating for rust protection that melts at a lower temperature and will result in rust stains or worse.

(b) A ticker heavier sheet metal is most always best, so that this structure is strong and less prone to wind damage. But that of coarse increases the cost of the metal used as well as the shipping charges a bit. Although, consider how projects like this the labor is far more than the material cost, so a thicker copper does not increase the cost as much as you might imagine. Compared to the flimsy 16oz copper most sheet metal shops would use 20oz copper feels 50% stronger, even though it is just 25% thicker. The 24oz copper is just 50% thicker, yet feels at least 2X stronger. 32oz copper is just 2X thicker, but feels 4X strongerr than 16oz copper sheet stock. The 48oz copper is sturdy enough to stand on supported by boards spred 2' apart, so it is stronger than the plywood on your roof. I often impliment more internal bracing than other shops as well. Most of our projects are priced by the weight of the copper, so when you can get 4X the strength for just 2X the cost that is a huge advantage for the $ spent.

(c) The cost of the metal type is a small consideration from your end for any custom work like this. Most of the cost is the design, custom fabrication, a shipping crate, truck freight costs, and the final installation. A 500% increase in the metal cost would only have about 20% increase in the total cost for this sort of project, so a better metal is by far your best value any way you slice it. Anything less is a waste of money. My custom copper chimney caps will normally increase the resale value of houses more than the cost difference, so you can make a profit from using better materials that will last. Even short term.

(d) A long life metal that will stay looking good decades later and need little to no maintenance is a much better value, but even more so in just the cost of labor to replace cheaper units more often. Rust stains from common steel units can be very unpleasant if the unit is not replaced every 10 to 15 years. A well made copper unit should last well over a century. That saves you the hassle of 7 or more replacement over that timeframe, beingmade heirloom quality.

Steel (very poor choice, yet most common): Galvanized or high temperature painted steel is the most commonly seem metal used by far. Mainly because it is so cheap, quick to spot weld together, strong, and handles high temperatures well. Few homeowners take the trouble to look into these details, so contractors will use the cheapest materials they can get away with. In most States the contractor is only required to provide a 1 year warranty. Steel cost less than 1/6th of copper, but in the long run it actually costs far more to the homeowner with the cost of replacement fabrication and repeated installation each decade or so. Also, there's the added cost of rust stain removal and or repainting.

The galvanized steel cap shown here was less than 15 years old.  It was so rusty, pitted, and worn thin that I could crush it with my bare hands like an aluminum pop can. You can see here dozens of daylight pin-holes through the metal (photo above left).  Two of the three bracing that held this hood up had disintegrated.  The strap clamp had disintegrated so badly that we were able to lift it off the stainless steel chimney pipe it was attached to without loosening the clamp.  The worst part was how it left terrible rust streaks down the sides of the stainless steel chimney pipe and on the roofing that are now pretty well permanent (photo above right). I tried to use a wire brush in it, but it did not seem to help.

The simple flat roof chimney cap most commonly seen like in these photos below is not the type of chimney caps I make.  Those are small generic size caps that are mass-produced and sold in many hardware stores.  It is normally designed to bolt onto a flue liner, but most of the chimneys I've seen do not have a flue liner tile protruding up over the bricks to attach that specific type of cap to.

This is a stainless steel chimney cap on a house I had replaced the gutters 12 years prior.
The left cap had blown off and the one on the right was crushed by a branch hitting it.

That type of cap may work on your chimney, but it's not very decorative. It is fine for an inexpensive temporary solution. Steel can handle a good deal of heat, with a melting temperature of 2,500 degrees F. Although rain and heat will dissolve the zinc galvanizing away. The zinc melts off at only 787 degrees.  Even though the high temperature paints can handle more heat than a zinc coating, it is not much better, since it is prone to suffer UV damage from the sun and oxidization.  You can see these statistics at a web site called Online Metals.

If you let it go too long steel chimney caps will rust and make unsightly permanent rust stains down the side of the chimney and on the roofing shingles around it, that are near impossible to remove. Eventually it will deteriorate so badly that it will literally fall apart. If you factor in the labor cost of replacement each 10 to 15 years, spending $3,000 on 1 copper chimney cap is cheaper than getting an inexpensive $1,500 steel cap built the same way.  A steel chimney caps is not a good value for your dollar.  Not when a copper chimney cap should last well over 100 years, if built well. 

Steel is good for repeat sales; due to it's planned obsolescence.  That's the same reason we do not see more car bodies made out of aluminum, like with the Acura NSX sports car pictured below.

Aluminum (good for low temp natural gas exhaust only): Aluminum will take much more heat than a zinc coating on steel; at 1,218 degrees F.  But for use over a wood burning chimney it can reach such temperatures that would warp the aluminum sheet metal or perhaps melt it.  I have personally stoked a small wood stove so hot that the black painted steel stove pipe was glowing orange, and lit up the room.  And aluminum pipe would have melted at that temperature. If the chimney is only used for venting natural gas exhaust, thin aluminum ducting is commonly used, since the heat requirements are so much less and fairly consistent.

Aluminum would also need to be very well built and attached, since it is a lot softer metal and a lot lighter, and therefore is more prone to wind damage. Aluminum is great for aircraft construction where weight is very important, but it is not an asset for a chimney cap.

Brass (good) Brass is made of 70% copper and 30% just a soft zinc metal to help reduce the cost, which gives it that yellow look and makes it easier to bend, or dent.  Being a softer metal it would requiring a little thicker sheet to have the same dent resistance; making brass not really much of a cost savings. It will still tarnish and turn black with age with perhaps less of that chalky green tarnishing. It also has a lower melting temperature, so it will not handle heat quite as well.
Stainless Steel (better):
This is a good strong high temperature metal, but it is just as expensive as copper; costing 6 to 10 times more than just galvanized steel.  It may look good outside a diner car, but one of the biggest drawbacks to stainless steel is how it will stay bright and shinny, will get dirty, and mildew on the North side (just like in this photo taken on the Pacific Coast, over a church near Cannon Beach, Oregon). It is easy enough to clean once you are able to safely access it, but that can be enough of a hassle that it just doesn't happen.

Stainless steel is preferred by most sheet metal shops because is quick and easy to just spot-weld together, so most shops will opt for stainless steel when forced to work with a rust free metal. As with copper other shops will usually use very thin sheets of stainless steel to to work with in order to help reduce the cost and make it a lot easier to cut, bend, and drill. The thinness of the metal will tend to show a lot of irregularities and buckles on a flat surface. Hence the big  'X' bend commonly seen in these flat panels. Most people think it is a design feature, but that actually has nothing to do with why they bend that 'X' through the larger metal panel.

One of the cautions with stainless steel products is how many clients have been swindled by getting just steel, which will begin to rust within a few years. Well past any chance to resolve a dispute over that fraud. Even if it is made with a high grade stainless steel that will not attract a magnet the fasteners may not be SS. Any product is only as good as it's weakest link.

New Artisan Fire Pizza Oven

Here is a example of a very nicely built 30" wide pizza oven, but at over $6k it cost more than one of my copper chimney caps that are 4X larger w/truck freight included. I'm flattered if their design was inspired by my work shown just below, but they deny it of course.

Copper (best): Other than cost and tricky handling copper is the best value for your money, since copper is one of the few metal meant to be seen in it's natural state or after oxidization. Being the same cost as stainless steel it seems the clear choice when given this choice.  The fabrication may cost a little more, since it is not as easy to work with. Copper will tarnish to a nice satin brown within a few months of exposure to the elements. The striated chalky green patina actually takes several decades to form.

We fabricate most of our custom copper work in 20oz copper sheets or thicker, which is 1/4th thicker copper than the standard 16oz copper normally used in the roofing industry.  Copper is a heavy and sturdy metal that handles around 2,000 degrees F. It needs no coatings over it for protection from the elements.  It has a melting point about 700 degrees higher than aluminum.

Unlike most other shops, we go to the trouble to rivet the overlapping seams together, since the melting point of the lead type solder is far less than even aluminum and less than the zinc coating on steel.  It would be terrible if the cap were to fall apart from the solder welds melting apart. We have seen plenty of evidence of this happening.  We have to design our chimney caps to be strong enough for high winds, and not to leak, without the use of solder or even caulk, and yet be easily removable for future cleaning and servicing.

Fabricators who are more about mass production will not work with copper, because it cannot just be quickly spot welded together like steel and stainless steel.  Handling is also tricky, since finger prints will cause the copper to tarnish sooner than the rest of the copper surface, making it spotty looking until it evens out.  So will wearing protective gloves while handling bare copper, but most of it will have a clear plastic film over the outside when you get it, that you simply peal off after installation.

New copper looks nice, but we have yet to find a good method to keep it from tarnishing.  Raw copper is actually more pink, but most people see it as an orange'ish color, since it has already has begun the tarnishing process by the time they see it just from the humidity in the air, beginning it's process to turn brown.  Any clear coat applied over the copper surface can be a problem, since it will not handle the heat well.  Even without the heat issue, the sun's UV rays and the elements will break the clear coat down before long, causing unsightly peeling and a spotty tarnishing where it has cracked and peeled off the copper surface.

Fortunately most people we have talked with seem to love the natural aged striated tarnish look that real copper gets, and some ask if we can pre-tarnish the copper here in our shop.  I explain how within a few months it will naturally tarnish, so it is not worth the added cost, but it can be done before shipping by applying an acid wash to pit the metal surface and cause this premature reaction. Not well advised if I may say.

Bronze (excellent, but too hard to work with): I have only seen very limited sources of bronze sheet metal stock, because it is not a malleable metal and therefore not good for bending. It is made of 70% copper with a mix of hardeners to make it stronger and more scratch resistant. Used more for casting sculpture.

Titanium (excellent, if you can afford it): Other than the fact I have not seen this sheet metal available because of such small demand given it's extremely high cost, it would be very hard to work with. As an example: I jokingly say how I would be willing to pay more for a titanium extension ladder to have a stronger lighter ladder, but the $5k it would cost replacing it when it gets stolen would be a real drag! I do have a titanium hammer and cats-paw that were about 4 times the cost of a normal steel tool of it's kind. They are great tools and I feel well worth what I paid. Real Titanium is truly an amazing metal, but they would have to be mass produced to be any where near feasible. The head on the hammer is still nearly as smooth as when I first got it. I am eager to see more products and tools made from this metal, but not many contactors are willing to pay 3 to 4 times as much for a tool for their employees, so few manufacturers are willing to make and market them. You also will need to be careful not to get swindled with an inferior grade or a complete substitute. Think of how many products are advertised using the word platinum or turbo charged (LOL). Real platinum is more expensive than gold for goodness sake!

Silver (well worth the brag points, if you can afford it): Again I have not seen a source for large sheets of sterling silver, because of the high cost and therefore low demand, but that would be pretty cool. It would still tarnish to a dark black and look much like aged copper, unless you hired someone to polish it each year. I'm game if cost is no object.




Helpful Roofing Information For some valuable advice with regards to roofing and rain management issues check out our:

(a) Gutter Installation
(b) Gutter Debris Protection Options
(c) Roofing Quality Standards
(d) Chimney Flashing

(e) Moss Control & Treatment

web pages for answers and solutions that could save you thousands of $ and a great deal of anguish.

If you do find this information very helpful, feel free to send us a $ tip for the assistance we so freely have published on the web here for your benefit, like you might tip a waitress.  Heck, send us a gift certificate for a candle lit dinner for two.




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Better Business Bureau's
NW Business Integrity Award
for the year 1998

1999 Better Business Award

We were also a 1997 finalist for this same award. See our referral web page to see how we managed to be honored with this special award


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