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Barn Blog

April 1, 2013

How a Cupola Can Give You Peace of Mind & Save You Money in Your Barn Investment

As one drives through the country, you may notice a small decorative structure atop a pole building.  This little “hut” may also have a weathervane in the form of a rooster donning its perch.  You think to yourself, “Why would someone want that on top of their barn?”

That object is what is known as a cupola.  Cupola, Latin for “small cupo” or “little dome” has been around for thousands of years.  The purpose of a cupola is two-fold.  Cupolas are both ornamental, yet functional.

Cupolas were first introduced into America during the post-Revolutionary period.  Cupolas were originally used for aesthetic purposes to differentiate the different family farms from one another.  Not long after, the functionality of cupolas gained their future widespread use.  Cupolas at one time were known as “widow walks”.  They were so named as wives would climb into the cupola perched atop their house or barn and watch for their loved ones to return from war or sea.

Nowadays, the functionality of cupolas have changed to not only add an aesthetically pleasing element to one’s property, but to add an essential element of proper ventilation to the structure on which the cupola is located.

One of the most damaging elements to a pole barn or garage is warm, humid, stagnant air.  This moist air contributes to the growth of mold and mildew, which ultimately can lead to wood rot and jeopardizes the structure of the barn and maybe more importantly, the barn’s valuable contents.

Cupolas aid the ventilation by allowing the warm stale air to escape and the cool fresh air to enter the structure.  Cupolas are also a necessity for horse barns and storage garages as they allow the temperature to remain cooler inside by recycling the hot air out while allowing the fresher air into the building.

When choosing the correct size of cupola, always remember a good rule of thumb.  1” (one inch) of cupola for every 1’ (one foot) of roof ridge line.  This sizing not only creates an aesthetically pleasing cupola, but one that allows the functionality to work especially well.

Not many people consider the benefits of a cupola on their garage, home, or pole barn, but these benefits certainly outweigh the cost of damage that warm stagnant air can create.  It’s important to remember this functional tool when purchasing a pole barn structure or pole barn kit.

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