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The Home Depot

Barn Guide to Weathervanes and Cupolas

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Handyman > Barn Guide to Weathervanes and Cupolas
Barn Guide to Weathervanes and Cupolas

Weathervanes and cupolas make for a majestic addition to any structure—be it a home, barn, or garage. A weathervane is used for showing the direction of the wind and is found at the highest point of a building. Traditionally weathervanes were in the shape of a cockerel and had the four directions marked on it. Today’s weathervanes come in different shapes and sizes and are used more for adornment purposes. If you do not have a weathervane, you might want to consider installing one the next time you want to spruce up your house.

  1. 1.Check Weathervanes and Cupolas for Zoning

    Today’s weathervanes come in different shapes and sizes and are used more for adornment purposes

    A weathervane is usually mounted atop a cupola. A cupola is a structure on a roof or a dome and serves as a base for the weathervane. You will have to check with the local zoning authorities on whether you can install a weathervane on your property and if any permits are needed for this.


    Barn cupolas are primarily rectangular and allow light and air to come into the barn and improve its ventilation. Weather vanes are made in such a manner that their weight is balanced but the surface area is not. The surface which is wider will catch the wind and the smaller surface will be pointing in the direction of the wind.

  2. 2.Types of Weathervanes and Cupolas

    Weathervanes are available in a variety of materials including wood, copper, steel, aluminum, and vinyl. When choosing a weathervane for your barn, you must keep in mind the climatic conditions of the area and find a material suitable for it. Copper weathervanes have the longest lifespan which can be up to 50 years and they can withstand the elements of nature very well. The advantage of steel weathervanes is that they can be painted in different colors to match the color of the barn or house. They can also be coated with an additional coat of another metal to increase its ability to withstand the sun, rain, and snow.


    Wooden weathervanes have their own charm but they their major disadvantage is that they are not long lasting. Similarly, cupolas can also be made of different types of wood, vinyl, and copper. They can also be made from a combination of two or more of these materials. Cupolas come in a variety of shapes with the most common being four-sided. Custom made cupolas come in hexagonal shapes too. Different kinds of finials can also be added to the top of the cupola for a customized design.

  3. 3.How to Size Your Weathervanes and Cupolas

    A weathervane of the appropriate size will blend in with the building and look like it is part of the architecture. Small weathervanes are suitable for utility sheds and other similar structures. Medium sized ones are ideal for bigger garages and small outbuildings up to about 12 feet in height while large ones are needed for a barn or house that is two or more stories high. You will also have to decide whether you want the weathervane to stand alone or come with a cupola. Installing only a weathervane will make it look smaller. You must measure the roofline of the building on which the cupola or weathervane will be placed. Measure the roofline in feet and then convert this number to inches. For example, if the roofline is about 40 feet, then the cupola or weathervane you receive should be about 40 inches wide.

  5. 4.Weathervanes and Cupolas Care and Maintenance

    Not much is required in terms of maintenance for weathervanes, chiefly because they are made from materials that are rust free and weather resistant. Polished copper weathervanes can lose their sheen and you can restore this by using a clear lacquer or polyurethane; once you take it down from the roof of course. It is possible to maintain though and spruce up without removing it. You will just need a stable base to stand on and/or a sturdy latter. In order to remove any dirt and grime you just need some mild soap and water. Aluminum weathervanes can also be cleaned in a similar manner and then left to dry.

  6. 5.Weathervanes to Avoid

    When purchasing your weathervane and cupola ensure that you do so from a reputed manufacturer. If cheap products are used in making weathervanes, they will not last long. This should not come as a surprise. Hence, it is best to steer clear of materials such as plastic, fiberglass, or plywood when it comes to weathervanes.

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