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Chimney Caps

Example of chimney workChimney caps are the most important element when it comes to preventing water infiltration, and protecting the main structural elements of a chimney. There are a variety of chimney caps available to home owners, all with differing pros and cons when it comes to structure and aesthetics. The caps can be natural stone, man-made stone, concrete, metal, brick corbel, and sometimes a custom decorative piece.

Below you will find a description of the various chimney caps along with their pros and cons:

 

Metal
Metal is the best option for chimney caps when looking at both longevity and price. Our metal chimney caps are made of 20-gauge galvanized steel, and the paint is a baked-on enamel, preventing any rusting or deterioration. The caps are made of a single piece of bent steel, and all seams are sealed with a high-grade construction sealant. Breaks are put into the top of metal chimney cap, creating a good positive slope to shed water. Metal caps come in a variety of colours to match the existing flashing on your house. It also provides a sleek, modern look.

Metal chimney caps alone are not as strong as masonry, this is why we construct a concrete cap first, which supports the metal, and is completely hidden from view. This combination, the strength of concrete, and the water-tightness of metal, creates the best chimney cap for any condition.

Not only is the metal chimney cap your best bet to protect your chimney, keeping it in great shape for years to come, it is also the most affordable. The materials required to construct the metal chimney cap are competitively low, and the time it takes to install them is low as well. This saves you money on both materials and labour.

Natural Stone
This is the toughest of all chimney cap materials. Natural stone chimney caps come in a variety of colours, textures, and sizes. It is one uniform piece, so you don’t have to worry about typical weak spots in chimney caps such as where a mortar joint adheres two pieces of masonry together. Natural stone looks beautiful, and will stand up to harsh weathering.

With its upsides there are also downsides. This is the most expensive of the caps to install from a material and labour stand point. Also, some stones which are chosen for their aesthetic value, may not stand up to our harsh climate. Stone slabs are saw-cut giving them a flat plane as opposed to having a slight hump in the middle to allow good water drainage off the sides. As it is natural there can be minor imperfections that may pool water.

 

Man-made stone
This is one of your more inexpensive routes when it comes to material and labour. Man-made stone is easy to work with and can accommodate all sizes of chimneys. A positive slope is easy to achieve with a built-up, water shedding concrete bevel which is laid on top of the cap. The materials are relatively inexpensive, and like stone, can come in a variety of colours and textures. Man-made stone makes it possible to keep that stone look without having the associated cost.

Man-made stone is a good option in many applications, but is probably on the lower end of recommended chimney caps. It is typically made up of 4 or more pieces of masonry with mortar joints bonding them together. These joints are natural weaknesses in a chimney cap and lead to overall water infiltration.

Concrete
Concrete is a good option for chimney caps as it is a singular masonry unit reinforced with rebar to achieve very high strength.  Concrete can be pigmented to achieve any colours you want.

Concrete isn’t the most aesthetically appealing material for chimney caps, so depending on what the home owner would like to achieve this may not be the best option. Concrete chimney caps do take longer to construct as a form needs to be made. After the concrete is poured, the masons will have to wait a day or two before removing the forms to allow the concrete to set. Concrete caps are very difficult to remove if they need to be replaced. They are very well bonded to the chimney below, and the removal of the cap often results in the removal of several courses of bricks just below.

Brick Corbel
Brick chimney caps were quite commonplace in the past as you can achieve a huge array of designs that anyone would love. Very inexpensive and easy to make as all you need are some extra bricks and mortar.

Brick chimney caps, depending on the detail of the work, are easy to install but are the least recommended of the caps. They are the weakest of all the chimney caps due to their many mortar joints. Brick chimney caps can be a hazard as brick pieces may break off and fall on someone or something below. Due to their exposure to the elements, brick chimney caps often need a lot of maintenance. Bricks can only be stepped out very small distances at a time. This does not allow for a great overhang, and makes it tough to achieve a good drip edge. Clay brick is one of the more absorbent masonry materials, and is therefore more susceptible to water penetration and freeze/thaw problems. A concrete bevel is usually installed on top, and has a very different expansion rate from the clay units making them much more susceptible to cracking and separating.

 

All of these chimney caps, when installed properly, will last for years. Choosing your chimney cap is a matter of making an informed decision and figuring out what you are trying to achieve as a home owner. If you going for a natural look, or a smooth look; if structural integrity is paramount for you; or if you are trying to match a specific look to your houses features or surroundings. All in all, a properly installed chimney cap can save you a lot of headache, and your chimney a lot of life.