roofing and roof specialties

Weathervanes, Finials & Cresting: Jewelry for the Roof

Designers in the late 19th century knew how to embellish a roof so that it made a bold, dramatic statement. Happily, there are suppliers today who can furnish the same roof adornments.

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Today, if you need to know which way the wind is blowing, you're most likely to turn on the Weather Channel. Nonetheless, weathervanes are more popular than ever -- not for the wind information they supply, but for the visual punctuation they provide at the top of a roof. Weathervanes, finials and similar metal ornament -- such as cresting -- have been aptly termed "roof jewelry."

However, the remote location of "roof jewelry" causes a couple of deadly related problems: (1) The top of any building experiences the most severe weather, causing heavy wear and tear on any metal elements installed at roof level and (2) because roof metalwork is remote and hard to access, it tends to get very little maintenance. The combination of (1) and (2) on buildings more than 50 years old usually means that at some point a maintenance person became dismayed at the corrosion and deterioration and just stripped the ornamental metalwork off, rather than deal with the restoration and repair involved.

Fortunately, it's possible today to find suitable replacements for just about any type of roof ornament. The most commonly specified items are weathervanes and finials, cupolas and cast-metal cresting; all are suitable for both old and new traditionally styled buildings. The weathervanes are available in a wide range of types and styles -- at an equally wide range of prices. The most economical are standard "silhouette" models; a pattern, such as a running horse, is cut from a flat metal plate -- usually steel or aluminum -- and painted. At the other end of the cost spectrum are custom, one-of-kind full-bodied sculptural vanes fabricated to the client's design and specifications. Usually made from hand-hammered copper, weathervanes like this are truly art objects -- and are priced accordingly.