How to Install a Cupola and Weathervane

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:
The Novak family of Lincoln Beach, Maine has asked for a hand.  I'm going to head off and see what they're up to.  How are you folks.

WOMAN:
Hi.
RON HAZELTON:
You must be Alison - and you're Chris.

CHRIS:
Hi.

RON HAZELTON:
That makes you Penny - hey Penny, how are you? Boy we are really out in the wilderness here. Now let me ask you something, do you ever feel isolated living here?
CHRIS:
Well not really.  We enjoy the peace and quiet.
RON HAZELTON:
Well I understand we're going to do some rooftop construction today.
CHRIS:
That's correct.  I'd like to put a cupola up on the top of my garage roof.
RON HAZELTON:
Is it cuupola or coopola.
CHRIS:
I don't really know.
RON HAZELTON:
Maybe we’ll find out.  Okay. Well show me the roof. Let's see what's going on.

CHRIS:
Sure.

 

RON HAZELTON:
Cupolas date back centuries and were first used to let light and air into cathedrals. The word cupola actually means little dome in Latin. All right Chris, should we find the center line of the roof here.  You'll take that down.

I'll get a reading on this end.  All right, I've got 13 feet 8 inches. That's 404 inches.  Okay.  202.  That puts it right here. 202.  All right Chris.  Now this cupola is not only going to be in the center of the roof this way but it's also going to be in the center of the roof this way. Which means it's going to be straddling the ridge right here.

We need to figure out the exact angle at the peak of the roof and then transfer that to our cupola base.  To do that, we take a couple of one by fours and clamp them together to create a temporary bevel gauge.

Okay, that's snug.
RON HAZELTON:
To lock the  bevel gauge in position, we secure it with screws. Then I use a level and draw a plumb or a vertical line at the intersection of the two arms on the bevel gauge.  Now that's the angle it's going to be on the base of the cupola.

So let's go down and take a look at it.  I haven't seen it yet.  So this is the base of the cupola right here.
CHRIS:
That's right. This is the cupola base.
RON HAZELTON:
What is it, cupola or coopola.
PENNY:
Excuse me guys, I looked it up.  It's cupola.

RON HAZELTON:
Cupola. That's the silliest sounding word I have ever heard. Well thank you for clearing that up for us, Penny.

Since our cupola's perfectly square, any side can be the front.  Once we choose the front, we'll mark the center of the side and use a square to draw a vertical line from top to bottom. And connect the line here. Alright. Now we're going to align this line with the center line that we drew earlier.

And Chris is going to put this leg right on the front corner because we want the front corner flush to the roof.  I'm going to eyeball this now to align up these 2 lines.  We'll double check this with a square just to be sure.  Good. Now we'll just draw the line on the inside of the bevel gauge here and here.

Okay.  All right Chris, we're all set to cut. Right there. Great.  Next, Chris uses a jigsaw to cut along our guidelines.  With just one chance to get it right.  There we go.  Looks good.  We'll go up to the roof and see if our measurements made the cut.

Not bad huh, not bad at all. Way to go. Even though our eye says it's right, we'll use a level to double check ourselves.
CHRIS:
Now bring it back to me just a little.
RON HAZELTON:
We don't want any water to seep underneath the cupola.  So I'll use some flashing to cover the seam between the roof and the base.  Now here’s what's going to happen next.  These two by four blocks are going to get screwed to the roof right inside here.  And then we're going to nail through the side of the cupola base.

And that's how it will be attached to the roof itself.  But I’m concerned about the screws that are going through here penetrating the roof.  So - and this was actually Chris' idea, we're going to put some water and ice barrier on the bottom of these two by four blocks just like this.

We'll wrap it around the sides.  It’s sticky on one side there.  Then when the screws go through, we'll have a watertight seal right here. Good.  Well this is the middle section right here, right Chris?
CHRIS:
Yes, it is.
RON HAZELTON:
I guess we can't think of a better name for it -

We check to make sure that the overhang is equal on all sides.   Then we nail it down, making sure the nails go all the way through to the base.  Now, this is gorgeous.  Okay this just sets down.  Beautiful.  This keeps getting better. 

Now how do you know which way is north, though?
CHRIS:
The front of the building faces south.  


RON HAZELTON:

All right. So we'll adjust this.  So I tighten the last screw. But it still seems like it's missing something.  What have you got there?  Oh - that is perfect.  A sailboat for the coast of Maine. That's great. You know what, let's go downstairs, get a cup of coffee and wait for the wind to come up.

I want to see this baby sail.  You know it's been a wonderful day. And what a terrific project, you know that.  I really enjoyed this.
PENNY:
Well thank you so much for coming.  It looks great.
RON HAZELTON:
Well you're absolutely welcome.  You know I think the wind has shifted out of the northeast - a storm's a brewing.  I'd better get out of here before I get caught in it.
PENNY:
Okay.
RON HAZELTON:
Thanks so much - bye.

Crown the Roof, Old or New, with a Simple Project to Install a Cupola and Weathervane Kit

Top a brand new barn or a weathered outbuilding with this simple project to install a weathervane kit. The eye-catching copper weathervane crowns the wooden cupola formed from a base, midsection and top/copper roof. Shape the cupola's base with a jigsaw to straddle the roof ridge, installing it for a close fit before the roof cap is added.

Mark the Cupola Position on the Center of Roof Ridge
Step 1

Mark the Cupola Position on the Center of Roof Ridge

Find the center point of the roof line by running a tape measure along the roof ridge. Mark the center point with a pencil as the position for the cupola base.

Create a Bevel Gauge to Help Shape the Cupola Base
Step 2

Create a Bevel Gauge to Help Shape the Cupola Base

Angle two crossed one-by-fours along the roof slopes as a bevel gauge to determine the exact angle of the roof for the cupola base. Screw them together. Draw a precisely vertical line at the intersection of the arms.

Draw a Plumb Line on the Cupola Sides
Step 3

Draw a Plumb Line on the Cupola Sides

Draw a vertical line from top to bottom of the cupola base using a square to ensure it is plumb. Any pair of opposing sides will serve, because the cupola base is square.

Align the Bevel Gauge on the Cupola Base
Step 4

Align the Bevel Gauge on the Cupola Base

Align marks on the cupola base and bevel gauge on one side, tracing the bottom edge of the bevel gauge arms. Repeat on the opposing side, ensuring that the bevel gauge intersects the front corners each time.

Saw the Cupola Base along the Traced Guidelines
Step 5

Saw the Cupola Base along the Traced Guidelines

Cut along the traced guidelines on opposing sides of the cupola base with a jigsaw, removing part of the base at the back. Position the base over the roof ridge to test the fit and confirm it is level.

Install Flashing beneath the Cupola Base
Step 6

Install Flashing beneath the Cupola Base

Cover the seam between the roof and the cupola base with metal flashing to prevent water seepage underneath. The ridge cap will be installed over the flashing.

Secure the Cupola Base to the Roof
Step 7

Secure the Cupola Base to the Roof

Adhere "Water and Ice" barrier on two pairs of two-by-four blocks for a water-tight seal. Screw them to the roof inside the cupola base (a pair on either side of the cupola base) and then to the base itself.

Position the Middle Section over the Cupola Base
Step 8

Position the Middle Section over the Cupola Base

Center the middle section over the cupola base with equal overhang on all sides and nail it to the base. Position and nail the upper section with the copper roof to the middle and secure with nails.

Completing the Cupola Kit with the Weathervane
Step 9

Completing the Cupola Kit with the Weathervane

Insert the cupola kit's copper weather vane through the hole at the top, aligning its points with compass directions and tighten the set screw. Insert the rotating module (here, a sailboat) over the top to complete.