Dress The Yard Blog

Cupolas, Lamp Posts, and Mailboxes Buying Guide

Not many architectural features are able to be seen on both the roofs of rustic barns and the domes of Renaissance cathedrals. However, that odd versatility includes merely one of the many aspects which make cupolas so special. In past centuries, cupolas offered ventilation, ornamentation, natural light, as well as broad rooftop views. These days, they are most oftentimes put in for their curb appeal, climate control abilities, and period style. If you are considering getting a cupola for your outdoor structure or home, below are a few of the critical things to know before raising the roof.

What’s a cupola?

The term cupola comes from a Latin term that means a small vault or little cask. Architecturally, it is a diminutive dome-appearing structure which rises above a dome or roof, although the term occasionally refers to a dome-shaped ceiling or roof.

Cupolas have been in use for multiple centuries to adorn both private and public structures. They are typically found on top of places of worship—more famously for Westerners, and Italian Renaissance cathedrals like the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore, also known as Florence Cathedral, which houses the famous Brunelleschi’s Dome.

Within domestic architecture, cupolas are related to period styles like French Country or English, the Victorian age’s Italianate style, or within the United States, Colonial Revival or American Colonial houses. In addition to homes, they also are generally built on gazebos, dovecotes, garages, sheds, and barns (oftentimes with a finial and/or weathervane).

Why should you put in a cupola?


By permitting air to rise and then escape, a cupola is able to assist in prolonging the life of a structure’s roofing materials while it makes the inside more comfortable. It’s an excellent choice for getting hot air out of the attic, which is going to assist in lowering your cooling bill in the summertime.


Lantern-style designs include an especially bright concept for bringing natural, warm light into windowless hallways and large stairways, as well as garages, attics, and additional rooms.


For a period-style home, a cupola includes an authentic architectural detail which immediately creates a more traditional, homier curb appeal. All-weather materials and contemporary styles also have increased their usefulness as the finishing touch for backyard buildings, garages, and modern homes.

Materials and Structure

A cupola comprises of its base, mid-section with glass or louvers, and roof. Most are hexagonal, octagonal or square in shape. The louvers will function as vents, and may assist in keeping pests or insects out if used along with screening. Many cupolas are made for weathervane and/or finial compatibility.

Aside from basic shape or glass versus louvers, one other feature to take into consideration is the roof design of the cupola. Many are bell or pyramidal-shaped and made from metal, even if its mid-section and base are vinyl. A few pyramid roofs will have a straight 45° angle, yet most have more concave lines or almost pagoda-like, swooping slope.

Peak rooftop positions make cupolas extremely visible, yet they also provide consistent exposure to the elements, wind, and sun. Fortunately, the materials utilized to design them are as durable and hardy as they come. They involve:


Vinyl includes the most typical cupola material, yet do not be concerned: this isn’t the sensitive vinyl of an LP record collection. Vinyl ones are constructed from the same material as the garden arbors and amazingly rugged fences of today. They are moisture resistant, maintenance free and pretty much impervious to wear and weather. They typically are colored white, with UV protection that guards against fading, and may be painted to match the house.


Cypress, unfinished cedar, and additional woods offer a crafted appearance, and offer you more choices if you desire a particular finish or color. Those materials come primed or unprimed and prepared for staining or painting.


Aluminum and copper include the two most typically used metals. Of these two, copper will be the most traditional. Gone untreated, it’ll weather to a gorgeous light gray/green shade when it ages.

Selecting the Proper Size

Locating the ideal cupola size for your house is an easy matter of proportion. Professional installers and manufacturers advise utilizing a cupola base width ratio to unbroken roofline—usually a minimum of 1” of cupola to every 1’ of roof. For multi-story structures, a ratio of 1.25+/12” is preferred. Measurements that are under will represent a cupola for a 24’ roof line. Utilize it as your reference, replacing the real dimensions of the unit. Brands like Good Directions advise around 1.5” of width to each foot of uninterrupted roof line (that is, width of roof minus width of cupola).

Cupola Size Guide

One better choice for a few architectural styles and lengthier rooftops includes doubling up, and position two smaller cupolas on top of the roof instead of one big one. It’ll create an attractive visual symmetry, and offer better natural lighting and ventilation.

Installation and Roof Pitch

Prior to putting a cupola in, you will have to determine your roof pitch. To do this, nail 2 thin boards together at an end in order for them to pivot. Set your boards so they straddle your roof peak, with both sides flat and peak touching the tip of the intersection. Mark your pencil line where boards cross one another, and utilize that as your cutting template to mark then cut your roof angle on your cupola base box.

Ornamental cupolas ought to be fairly simple to put in if you follow the manufacturer’s directions. If you’re prepared to utilize yours for ventilation, you will have to trim a vent hole alongside the peak of the roof. The opening must be 6” smaller than your cupola width; that is, while cutting down on both sides of the peak, leave at the minimum of a 3” border of roof material between its vent hole and interior of the cupola base. More importantly, only cut the roof sheathing and shingles, not structural components like the rafters or ridge.

Guide to Outdoor Lamp Posts

Lamp posts will add a polished appearance to landscape architecture and design, in both residential and commercial settings. They may be functional, decorative, or combination of both. Such posts are designed of different materials like aluminum, coper, and wood, and come in a broad array of heights and materials. High end styles include custom-made designs that range from ornate to simple. Short gas or electric lamps include a charming addition to more compact spaces, like home gardens. A tall post is perfect for lighting up large spaces, like walkways or putting in security lighting. Designs are out there which cater to styles which range from artistic to simple. Historically a typical type of lighting, the exterior gas lamp and modern-day electric counterparts still are extremely appreciated. Whether searching for functional or aesthetic lighting, this section will cover basic points to take into consideration while buying a lamp post. They may be purchased at brick-and-mortar do-it-yourself and lighting shops, or online retailers like Dress the Yard.

Lamp Fixtures and Posts

Lamp posts have always been a fixture of private dwellings and communities. They’re used in commercial and residential settings for both aesthetic and functional purposes. Not only will they offer a source of light, they’ll enhance the beauty of the landscape that surrounds you as they offer walkway safety lighting and security. Gas lamps provide an authentic glow, as well as make a distinctive, soft sound. Electric lamps are available in low voltage DC, high power, and solar powered variations. An electric lamp is simpler to integrate with daylight timers or sensors. Low voltage lamps will have the extra benefit of highly simplified installation without any professional assistance. Solar lamps will require no utility connection, whatsoever.

Post and Fixtures Height

As you determine what height your post should be, keep in mind to take into account whether your post is going to be placed on an elevated base during installation. Consider what kind of fixture is going to be put in on the lamp post. If separately buying a post and fixture, make sure the two are going to be compatible for installing. Shorter heights are perfect for smaller areas like home gardens, whereas taller heights are preferred for larger projects like pathways, driveways, or parking space areas. A handful of lamps require gas, whereas other ones mostly require low-voltage or AC electrical service. A few lamp posts are available with electric wiring or gas fittings. Most are hollow in order to accommodate either service connection. Generally, solar powered lamps just have a physical connection with a post, although some have different solar panel arrays.

Composition of Material

Typical materials utilized to design lamp posts include wood, copper, and aluminum. A wood post may be sealed and painted to guard against the effects of extended use outdoors. Typically, aluminum posts are made of rust free, durable, cast aluminum that may be brushed or sanded for various finishes. Copper posts provide outstanding resistance and durability from the elements; but, solid copper is a pricey material. Copper-plated and alternative materials that have a similar appearance also are available. As lamp posts become exposed to the elements upon a prolonged basis, it’s vital that you consider the climate in which the lamp post is going to be installed. Copper posts are appropriate for any environment, whereas wood posts oftentimes require sealant or paint to withstand exposure to weather.

Item Characteristics

There are different lamp post styles available, depending upon the needs and tastes of a buyer. The material or style of the lamp post may be determined by which kind of lighting it’ll support. For example, security lighting, usually will require a taller post than lighting meant to illuminate residential gardens or driveways. It’s vital that you weigh factors like the weather and climate conditions a lamp post is going to be exposed to, as you choose a material.

If a buyer lived within a climate which has extremes in temperature, it might be advantageous to go over the best choices with a lighting expert. Some metals are more susceptible to contraction and expansion than other ones, which may cause splitting or cracking if not correctly tempered.

Kinds of Lighting

Enclosed, open, functional, or decorative, there are various kinds of lighting that are appropriate for any situation. Security lights generally are high-powered fixtures, put on poles to light large areas up. One typical feature for security lighting is motion detection that will activate the light as motion can be detected.

Solar lighting is simple to install, as it doesn’t need wiring in the electric utility service. After the fixtures cost, there isn’t any continual expense to run solar lights other than changing the batteries out every couple of years. New, rechargeable batteries greatly have improved performance lives. Small designs are out there which are perfect for pathways or driveways.

Gas lamps will require unique timed controls, constant operation or manual lighting, as well as a mantle to effectively convert natural gas to warm light. A gas lamp post requires gas utility plumbing underground. But, gas lamp posts will be unrivaled in authenticity.

An electric lamp post may be hard wired to an electrical power, either using low voltage DC power or AC power. A low voltage DC system simplified DIY wiring and utilize a different step down transformer. Typically, low voltage DC systems have a decreased light output, yet utilize low power bulbs. A low power bulb enables cheap translucent plastics to be utilized in replacement of fragile glass. A low voltage DC includes the next most energy-efficient to solar. A medium-output flood light also is possible.

A lamp post’s intended use will influence which material and especially which lighting technique is used. Solar, wired, electric, and gas all have a niche. Also, aesthetic needs factor into which type of material is utilized.

Lamp posts may be used in different kinds of settings and projects. Due to the application diversity, they’re available in a variety of styles and materials. Materials include aluminum, copper, and wood. The most basic posts are going to be painted sheet metal construction or anodized. Solid copper is very durable and will have a distinct finish. Also, simulated copper finishes and copper clad are available. Cast aluminum will have almost endless finish options and can withstand the elements well. Wood is a classic look, yet will require diligent sealing and painting to stand up to environments that are mild to harsh.

Lamp posts may be utilized with either gas, solar, or electrical fixtures. Make sure of compatibility of mounting sizes if buying the post and lamp separately. Lamp posts oftentimes have a classic style and come in multiple designs. The advantages from the addition of the lamp post involve improved lights for safety of driveways and walkways, garden and patio lighting aesthetics, security lighting, as well as enhanced street appeal. Designs will exist to accommodate many budgets. Suitable for both functional and aesthetic purposes, lamp posts will add more than simply light to an office or home setting; they’ll add style and comfort.

Mailbox Buying Guide

Mailboxes are important outside home accents which may serve both decorative and useful purposes. To permit a mail carrier to retrieve and deliver mail, mailbox makers oftentimes have to conform to standardized regulations mandated by federal or state postal delivery services while making their mailboxes. Even though mailboxes are regulated, purchasers still will have lots of choices to select from while shopping for a mailbox which is appropriate for their needs. Numerous different kinds of mailboxes exist and usually are found in suitable geographical regions, like small towns or cities. To complement a structure's exterior, mailboxes additionally feature various style elements which are able to mesh well with the most sought after architectural styles.

Kinds of Mailboxes

Mailboxes are made in two types. Those types are classified by where a mailbox may be placed onto a property.

The kind of mailbox which is most suitable is mainly determined by the kind of property a buyer has. Some homes are made to forego a mailbox altogether then utilize a mail slot rather than a box, yet owners may change to a mailbox if they like a box over a slot.

Curbside Mailboxes

Oftentimes, curbside mailboxes are discovered in suburban or rural regions in which homeowners have big plots of land. Depending upon the curbside mailbox style, supports may be a simplistic post which is connected with the middle bottom of the mailbox or ornate post which features a cross arm which holds a mailbox. Decorative brackets also may be included within the curbside mailbox design to support a cross arm. Curbside mailboxes may have back and front openings and mailbox arm which mailmen lift after they’ve placed mail inside the box. The mailbox arm will alert owners that mail was added to a box.

Wall Mount Mailboxes

Typically, wall mount mailboxes are discovered in more populated regions in which individuals have smaller pieces of land. This kind of mailbox is mounted to the building’s exterior with screws that attach a box to a structure's wall. Most wall mount mailboxes will feature a flip top box and newspaper hook which will come in handy for holding large envelopes and flyers. Before purchasing a wall mount mailbox, consumers must decide if they prefer a mailbox which is oriented vertically or horizontally because this kind of mailbox may be discovered in either form.
← Previous Post Next Post →


Leave a comment