Vulcan Supply Corp.
Photo courtesy Vulcan Supply Corp.
From the shiny new penny in your pocket to the beautifully weathered Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, copper has an almost universal appeal. And with good reason: it's not only pleasing to the eye, it's also a durable, versatile workhorse.

The well-known green patina that copper develops actually protects it from corrosion, making it a good choice for roofs, gutters, and anywhere a material is exposed to the elements. And it's virtually maintenance free, making it perfect for cupolas, weathervanes, and other hard-to-reach locations.

"Properly installed, copper is a hundred-year material," says Larry Stearns, founder of Vulcan Supply Corp. in Westford, Vermont. "You can install it and forget about it, no maintenance, no upkeep." And no searching for someone fearless enough to climb up and repair a weathervane or paint a dome or steeple.

Stearns is no stranger to This Old House. He was last seen atop the project house in Winchester, installing the TOH custom weathervane that symbolizes the end of a renovation. He also appeared in the September 2003 issue of This Old House magazine, where his work is included in a four-page article on copper products, from gutters and downspouts to weathervanes and finials.

Space limitations prevented us from including some of his more lavish creations in the magazine, but two of his more unusual projects were so interesting we decided to show them to you here.

The Pennsylvania dome and the California pagoda (shown on the next page of this article) are admittedly extreme examples of copperworks — breathtaking examples of how the material can be used to great effect.

Of course, even less spectacular copper items don't come cheap. Prices range from under $100 for a single gutter bracket to thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars for intricate finials and other copperworks.

But if you think the price tag makes copper too rich for your blood, take heart — you probably have lots of the metal in your home already. According to the Copper Development Association, a typical single-family home includes nearly 500 pounds of copper, mostly in copper wiring, pipes, and fittings. If you own a car, add another 50 pounds to your total (mostly in electrical components). It won't dazzle the neighbors, but at least you know it's there.

Ask TOH users about Exterior

Contribute to This Story Below