Ordering Details for Custom Copper Sheet Metal Chimney Caps Page

Updated 12 / 2016

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

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 Quick Info Bookmarks:

Introduction: How are we different? Info We Need? Shape Options?
Why Copper Sheet Metal? Pricing? Fasteners?
Copper Sheet Metal Thickness? Minimum Order? References?
Patinas and Other Finishes? Lead Time? Contact Info?

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Lead time
You can see what our work schedule is by going to our Latest News page to find out our most current lead time. We strive to check our e-mail at least a couple times each day even on the weekends to respond within 24 hours. Give us a ring if you have not received a personal response within a business day to see if we got your message.

This process should go swiftly, depending on how fast you are able to answer our questions.  We do have a toll free phone# listed on our Contact web page, but I may be busy in the shop or up on a ladder when people seem to call. Not just sitting at my computer. That process can take several hours to do the careful calculations (as long as I have the info I need). I also do not like to quote costs for work over the phone because then neither of us would have a written record of what was said.

With this comprehensive internet exposure we've become pretty busy. After we have locked down all the details and received your deposit we are still booked out several months with projects before we could begin the actual fabrication of your project, so be prepare to hear we will not be able to deliver your custom project in short order. We currently have no teams of workers to speed up production. We demand excellent craftsmanship and have not found others to equal our meticulous expectations and creativity.  So it is simply on a first come-first serve basis hinging on the receipt of the deposit.

If you are confident we will be able to workout a reasonable contract you could send an approximate 1/3 deposit to lock your project in our cue as soon as possible while we work out the details, taking some of the pressure off to make hasty decisions. That deposit would be 90% refundable if we were not able to work out an agreement to your liking. We want serious inquiries only, since that would push our schedule out that much further, causing us to loose other prospective clients, so that 10% reservation fee is not refundable.

Prices
Prices can vary to fit your needs for a custom fabricated item due to complexity, but most chimney cap projects run $20# to $25# calculated from the actual weight of the finished project. Our pricing is not calculated with the the scrap cut-off included. This way our Client is able to double check our cost with the weight once it has arrived to see how honest CBD is, so there is no deception possible. This has been part of our ethical business practice for the last 2 decades, yet unheard of with any other metal shop across the country. If your project does come in under weight your final cost will be discounted accordingly. Although, many projects seem to go over the estimated weight, but with a written quote it places a ceiling on the cost on that project. Unless there are substantial changes made after the quote was accepted it would not cost more than quoted. Often it winds up being a better bargain in the end, given the free copper you may get.

Besides our very unusual business practice of discounting work like this, we have been told our quotes are quite reasonable and even cheaper than the other shops.  We also give discounts to clients who aid us in the quote process by carefully reading over these web pages and clearly convey their needs to us in their first e-mail with good clear photos; in order to minimize the number of e-mails needed to iron out these details.  If you have read this far, you are off to a very good start.  Feel free to mention this discount in your e-mail.

Our base rate for a more basic custom project (not including crate & freight) is $20#.
Per square foot:
$13 sq' - 1 X 6 ipe hardwood used in the base/skirt angle cut on all 4 edges
$15 sq' - 5/4 X 6 ipe hardwood used in the base/skirt
$20 sq' - 13 gauge stainless steel spark arrest screening
$25 sq' - 20oz copper (most commonly used)
$30 sq' - 24oz copper
$40 sq' - 32oz copper
$60 sq' - 48oz copper

Tricky ornamentation and curves add substantially to the complexity and cost of a project.

If you are not local we will need to add the cost of a sturdy custom wood crate with packing along with the cost of truck freight through Roadrunner Transportation w/hydraulic lift-gate residential service in most cases.

We have no control of the shipping time, other than to charge you a huge cost for 2 day, or overnight shipping, which can cost more than the custom copper fabrication.  Most of the ground shipments have not been taking more than a week for delivery from the West Coast to the East Coast, so it hardly seems worth the cost of moving such large projects just a few days sooner. We have rarely had had a client who was willing to pay that much for Express Shipping.

Payments
To lock you into our schedule full payment is required on projects under $500.
Just 1/2 down deposit is required for projects over $500, and final payment before it ships.

Only a 1/3 down deposit is required for larger projects over $2k. The second third when we show you we have begun work on your project through digital photos. Then final adjusted payment before it ships. By then you will have much more confidence that you will be receiving just what you ordered, and we would have a chance to weigh it in order to recalculate the final cost down to what copper actually stayed in your project.

Trust
We all know what a scary ugly world it is; full of liars and cheats. I believe that our referrals web page and Business Integrity Award from the Better Business Bureau should give even the worst skeptic confidence in our ethical responsibility and devotion to our clients.  Because of this we have only had less than 5% of our potential clients express discomfort with our payment policy.  This has not been much of an issue, but if you do not trust us, you should simply not do business with us under any terms.

What Sort of Information Will We Need?
We understand how hard it is to decide on a style of chimney cap that would look best for your house and getting the measurements we'll be needing. Here is an example of what a client sent to us that they had done to help them decide what style to go with, but this not not required. We post as many photos of the installed chimney caps we can, but often time we never hear back for our clients after shipping out their order.

To fabricate a copper chimney cap for you, we'll need to know a few details:

Your Contact Info:  Your complete contact info to send the copper chimney cap out to you: name, address, & ph# where you can be reached in case they have trouble delivering it. Shippers prefer a business address to deliver it to, so there is a better chance to have a person there to receive it, but that is not a requirement in most cases. We will need to know if you will need a lift-gate service at the job site to unload the crate.

Style: What style cap you are looking to have us build. If you do not find what you are looking for in the examples shown on our Chimney Cap page you can have your ideas diagramed, then scan it or take a photo of it to send us as a image file, or send up any other images you find that could show me what you have envisioned. We have a cable modem, so large file sizes are not a problem.  Everything you can do to help convey your wishes will aid in getting just what you want from us, and we will better be able to quote you a firm price. Our primary goal is to provide you with your dream cap at a price you can live with.

Roof Top Angle:  The angle of the roof that would be best.  I do not make flat top chimney caps. It is best to match the roof pitch of the house roof to help make it look like it fits with the style of the house. Normally this is calculated in the inch rise per 12 inches straight out level.  Example: a 6/12 pitch is half of a 45 degree angle.  The second number is always 12.

Sizing:  Before I begin fabrication I will need to know how long and wide the base needs it be to fit over your chimney to secure properly in high wind situations, which can also be removed for cleaning. We also need to know how wide you want the roof in relation to the base. If I make this exactly to your measurements, but it does not fit right for some reason you would be very unhappy with your order, so my goal is that it will install without a hitch. If you following these instructions this should prove to give us this result. Have them use a pair of straight 2X6 boards that are longer than the longest sides to lay horizontally against the sides of your chimneys near the top where the base will be positioned to measure the span on each end between those boards. Then repeat this for the opposing sides of the chimney, so you'll have 4 different measurement charted looking down over the chimney with the front side of your house listed. This will give us the best possible measurements taking account to any irregularities there may be. I will then add 1/4" to those measurements you provide to allow for a little slack, so it is not too tight. What I will need from you is just those tight measurements of the sides it will go over.

Obstructions: What size and type of flues are protruding out of the chimney top.  What is the inside displacement, so we can match the exhaust flow with the side vent spark arrest screening area on each of the 4 sides, so there is no flow restrictions. Digital photos may be needed looking down over the top, so we can better see what the chimney cap will be mounted over to be sure it will fit properly and not give your installers any grief.

Why do we primarily use copper?
We prefer to work in copper for the client's advantages, not ours. Here is a few of the reasons why:

(a) Copper can handle heat much better than aluminum (as long as it is not soldered together).

(b) Copper costs the same as stainless steel, but has several advantages, as listed below:

(c) Copper sheet metal is thicker than standard stainless steel sheet metal for the same strength, so it is heavier for better stability in high winds.

(d) Copper does not need to be painted, resolving any future repainting issue.  It is a metal that is meant to be seen with it's attractive patina effect that darkens the metal within a few months exposure to the elements.  It remains a classy look, and less conspicuous than stainless steel, which remains a bright shiny eyesore, and is prone to mildew on the Northern side.

(e) Copper will not mildew and has been known to aid in reducing mildew and moss growth below the area it is installed.

We feel that since the cost labor is by far the largest part of the cost for any custom work like this, why use cheaper materials? If it is built well, it is common knowledge that copper has proven to last out in harsh elements for well over a century. But this is the key we place most of our focus on "If built well". Even if it were to be made with a steel that is 3 times as thick, it would still only last 1/3 as long as copper. That is a 9 to one ratio or better over the most common metal used for chimney caps, but when you calculate the lost labor of fabrication and the replacement installation cost, the spread is far greater.

Even if you got a fantastic deal on a smaller chimney cap made of steel for only $600, in the long run that is actually more expensive than paying over $4,000 for a larger more decorative copper unit that would last well over a century. If you want to avoid the rust stains it will cause if left up there too long, you would have to change out the steel unit every 10 years or so, if you are lucky. Then there is the resale value of the house to consider, which is likely greater than the cost difference of using a cheaper metal. That issue alone would be profitable to go with a better unit.

How thick is the copper we use?
For some reason they do not use the same scale for the different types of sheet metal. Copper is gauged by weight per square foot, so if they use a different gauge it is likely that they are actually using stainless steel or just cheap steel sheet metal that will rust and fall apart in short order. The standard copper fabrication shops work with only a thin 12oz or 16oz copper sheet metal to help bring down the high cost of production, since it is easier to cut, drill, and bend. That is the standard in the industry. They also will not have bracing inside the roof cover. This detail would add about twice the metal needed, but makes a huge difference in the strength of the unit to resist the elements they will be exposed to. Like heavy snow loads, high winds, and being hit by a falling branch.

All of our custom work in the last few years has been fabricated with a thicker 20oz solid copper sheet metal or even thicker where needed. All the way up to 48oz copper.  To give you an example of this statement; 20oz copper is so rarely requested by contractors and other shops that we did not even know our metal supplier could order 20oz copper sheets until 2003. A full decade after specializing in sheet metal work. Now it is the only large sheets for custom fabrication that we get there.

We have an old copper scupper on display here that we had replaced it back in 2002, which is a classic design you will not see made in these modern days. It had a few holes worn through the left side because they used such a thin copper in it's construction. Also the soldered seams were cracking apart even though there was no sign of an impact. The client had already bought a new scupper from a different shop for me to replace this with. It was not nearly as ornate. I could see how the new scupper was no better built, so I made a funneling copper liner for it to be hidden inside, so this same failure would not happen again. At least it would last twice as long this way.

Patinas and Other Finishes?
We have rarely been contracted to pre-tarnish the new copper surface to make it look aged before you receive the products we build, since the copper will naturally turn brown within a few months of exposure and the heat from your fires will also turn the copper different colors.

There are numerous different mild acid wash soaks that can be applied and then a lacquer applied over it to retain that look, but the lacquer finish will not handle the normal heat generated, so that would be a waste. Here is a link to a company that specializes in these sort of copper patinas. I have their sample physical pack of the different colors and striations:
http://www.colorcopper.com/

Here's a link to a web site that shows some of the different chemical compositions to get different colors out of the copper surface:
http://www.sciencecompany.com/-W160.aspx


What about Retaining that New Penny Copper Look?
Personally I agree they look nice with that new penny copper look, but most clients seem to like the tarnished look better, and it's near impossible to do this with chimney caps because of the heat. You could lacquer it, but even if it were a high temp coating a decade later it will start to peal off and look terrible; tarnishing between the cracks and require some expensive restoration. The raw copper will also help retard growth of moss and mildew on the chimney surface below. If you were to polish and wax it there would be no unpleasant side effects, but it would not last very long.

The only good way to get a lasting new look would be to have it layered with rose gold leaf, or PVD coated like the better door knobs, which is just a colored chrome plating to look like copper, but it would probably cost more than the amount you pay to have this made and delivered, so it would be impractical.
Fasteners
We provide the stainless steel mechanical fasteners with each project to make sure it will be secured well and still be removable decades later without damaging the unit. We do our best to design chimney caps that will be attached strong enough to withstand the highest wind gusts you are likely encounter in your area, yet still be removable for flue cleaning, or some other servicing that may be required over the next century or so.

We have had some clients ask about a hinged chimney cap. It could be done, but the strength would be compromised. If the Chimney Sweep did not latch it just right when they're finished it could blow open and cause some damage. You also run the risk of them denting or damaging the chimney cap in the course of their work. So it has proven best to just remove the whole chimney cap as a one piece unit, set it aside where it is safe, and reinstall when their done. The way we build the bases they are much less likely to fly off even if they forget to tighten the screws again

Nails: We do not recommend using nails for mounting any of our products other than copper roof shingles. There is a very good chance it will need to be removed again for servicing and the flues may need swept out. On the left is a solid copper 1.5" nail we supply for chimney flashing kits. We also have 2" copper nails and hardened masonry nails if requested. These would be the most inconspicuous looking fasteners, but these are not much good for chimney cap attachment.
Standard SS (stainless steel) Screws: in the middle is a #2 Phillips head #10 shaft SS screw just 1" long with a low profile truss head. I feel this screw is too small and fragile. We stopped using the #2 slotted screws a decade back, even for aluminum downspout attachment with our gutter systems replacements.
Larger SS Screws: on the right is a #12 shaft SS screw we use for gutter installation. Although, we provide #14 shaft stainless steel screw with our custom chimney cap fabrications, which is 1/4" OSD. We do this so we know the installers will use good sturdy fasteners.  We have these in a 1.5", and 2.5". These takes a larger #3 Phillips screwdriver tip, which is a lot less likely to strip out during installation.  Besides installation this means it is a lot more likely to be reusable when your chimney cap needs any sort of servicing latter on. We have hex head SS lag screws as well, but they would have a much larger noticeable head showing.
SS Bolts w/Locking Nuts: we also supply the client with stainless steel bolts and locking nuts where needed, or use them for assembly where rivets will not be enough to hold the structure together.

Instead of just a brick chimney lots of modern houses are built with fireplaces that use an insolated flue pipe that is covered up by a wood chase built w/stud and plywood. The outside is sided and painted. Fancier houses will have a stucco or rock facing mortared over the wood. For these types of chimney caps we usually build a custom angle cut wood base for the chimney cap to rest on (shown above painted blue mounted over the crate base w/screws) This frame bolts down to the studs and overhangs the exterior cover. If the chimney box has a double top stud plate (as shown here), they are just be nailed down, which could be pulled off in high winds, so for these wood frames we provide several 8" long lag screws with washers to fasten this base deep into the studs below to secure it properly.

Minimum orders
Our minimum order charge for any custom work is $200, but since most copper chimney caps we make cost well above that, this has not been much of an issue.

What about Volume Discounts
Yes, we will discount large orders of the same design.  We also give discounts to clients who aid us in the quote process by carefully reading over these web pages and clearly convey their needs to us in their first letter with good clear photos, in order to minimize the number of e-mails needed to iron out these details.  If you have read this far, you are off to a very good start.  Feel free to mention this discount in your e-mail.

Are Your Fabrications UL Listing Certified or Compliant?
The straight answer is 'no'. Without even being an Engineer you should be able to clearly see how our unique designs far exceed UL Listing requirements, but it would be far too time consuming and expensive for us to have each chimney cap creation tested and certified through Underwriters Laboratories, so they are not certified UL Listed products. If CBD were to build thousands of a single design this would be more practical and something we would have done, but we have rarely been able to use a temple twice, as these designs are each so different from each other, so it would be completely impractical to go through that process each time and hinder our process greatly with long delays. UL listed products may be a good idea, but are not the law we have to use only UL listed product, as that would still not guarantee you will never have a problem any more than I could.

The key factors to consider in a chimney cap design:
(a) Is this design providing enough screened surface area to not cause an exhaust restriction given how this will be used? ie: type of fuel being burned and flue size. The design should allow for at least 1.5X that of the inside measure of the flue(s) for each of the 4 sides as the direction of the wind will change, of a total of 6X in all.
(b) Is this going to handle keeping the rain out effectively, even in a strong wind storm with sideways driven rain and splattering?
(c) Is this design constructed well to be sturdy and attached sufficiently well?
(d) Can it handle the heat it may be subjected to? Keep in mind solder melts at just 450 degrees or oven temperature. At 1,200 degree melting point aluminum is not usable for a wood burning chimney cap, where copper is rated to handle up to 2,000 degrees.

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Classic shapes for chimney pots:
In most cases these heavy clay flue pots seen here are not an option. They will not fit on many standard single flue brick chimney, since they would be wider than the outside of the bricks.  They are also very heavy and difficult to install and cannot be used over a modern chimney pipe that has a wood structure built around it.

We work to design our custom copper caps to be easy enough for a home owner to install. You can go to The Chimney Pot Shoppe to see a good selection of the clay chimney pot designs like these.  For some reason they have no prices listed, but it can give you a lot of ideas to request copper chimney pots for us to make.

We have only seen one other manufacturer on the web who makes similar copper sheet metal chimney pots, which are sold by several different retailers. They are named after chess pieces, but I think they look more like light houses. I have not heard or seen where they take orders to build custom work like we do for specific sizing or style. They are also more expensive than our work; considering the fact it is a thinner copper and are rather plain looking.

I do not know why they have these hundreds of louvered vents punched into the copper around the base, but that would substantially weaken the structure and does not seems to add to the functionality. If anything I would think it would cause a problem with the draw of the exhaust.

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Shapes & Design Details

Also, other considerations need to be worked into these designs for fire safety. Such as a sturdy attachment, and the cubic displacement of the spark arrest screen needs to be around 6X that of the inside measure of your flue(s). This way each of the 4 sides will have up to 1.5X the displacement, so it will not cause an exhaust restriction no matter what the direction of the wind is as it changes. How well will this keep out even wind driven rain from entering your chimney box, and several other issues common to chimney caps. Another issue is the removal of this chimney cap for cleaning the flue(s) when needed without too much difficulty.

Here are some example diagram to see a few ideas for the specific designing that goes into one of the CBD chimney caps. If we are contracted to build one for you I do not tend to charge extra for this drafting service once we have all the details worked out, since I would need to do this anyway, so I can be sure to lock down the cost before fabrication begins.

If you feel you need me to draft out several options for you to scale during the bid process I would need to charge for that drafting work of those original designs you are considering to order. The cost can vary due to complexity and changes made. Such as you would need to pay an Architect to do.

Keep in mind how curves are a lot more tricky to form precisely and seal the seams together than just straight bends, so they would cost a little more to fabricate. The thickness of the copper needed is also a strong factor in cost per square foot needed, and may be required for some design options.

Other Shapes for Chimney Cap Designs:
Below is a collection of some 4 dozen more designs we could make a chimney caps in. This is to help you visualize your many options that are possible, so don't be shy to suggest some variation or combination of these designs. It was only those Clients of mine who had placed faith in my ability that are the sole reason I have been able to show so many actual fabrications as seen on my main Chimney Cap web page. Keep in mind the roof top angle is variable and should match your house roof pitch to appear as if it was meant to be there. Not just an after-thought.

14 Hipped Roof Styles

 
The Wrightsway

The Prairie
 

The High Hat
 
 
The Tuscan Sun

The Cantina
 
 
The Rotunda
 
 
The Patriot
 

The Hacienda

The Shangri La
 

The London Tower
 

The Warrior
 
The Phoenician

The Crystal Ship
 

The Shaolin Temple

12 Gable End Roof Styles


The Sentry
 
The Outpost
 
The Dog House
 
The Casa De Arco
 
 
The Mountain Haus
 
The Parthenon
 
The Miss Swiss
 
The Santa Barbara

The Prairie
  
 
The Hacienda
 
The Amsterdam
 
The Excaliber
 

6 Curved Gable End Roof Styles

 
The Bishops Arch
 
The Cardinal

The Mission

The Sultan

The Quadrophenia
 
The Pagoda
 

16 Arch Roof Styles


The Mission

The Mission

The Atomic Sunline

The Solar Winds

The Eggcellency
 
The Double Round House 
 
The Trinity
 
The Denver Half Moon 
 
The Flying Quarter Barrel
 
The Blue Bonnet
 
The King Albert
  
The Magic Door
 
The Flying Carpet
 
The Monticello
 
 
The Liberty Belle
 
 
The Mecca Domes

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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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Below is a photo of our
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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