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Add Exterior Style with Chimney Pots

A sure-fire way to add curb appeal without breaking the bank—or your back

What's In a Name?

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One simple way to dress up the exterior of your home is with an affordable, easy to install chimney pot. The tapered terra cotta pots, which were designed to improve draft, have been crowning residential smokestacks in America since the 19th century. Today, there are hundreds of shapes, styles, and sizes to choose from, and both new and antique chimney pots are easy to come by.

For durability, it's hard to beat terra cotta pots; they can withstand the extreme heat of a chimney fire and can literally last for centuries. And unlike metal caps, ceramic doesn't attract lightning. Installation requires only a few hours, a bag of mortar and some basic skills and tools. Prices start around $350, so they're an affordable investment for most homeowners. As a bonus, your chimney pots may even stop your fireplace from belching smoke into your living room.

In a contest of great building product nomenclature, chimney pots are the clear winner. Names are typically drawn from shape, region of origin, or both. Shown here are the Leeds Three Bowl, the Cannon Barrel and the Halifax Tulip Top Windguard. With names like these, chimney pots are almost as much fun to talk about as they are to look at.

Dragons on the Rooftop

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Pick your dragon (or other custom design) from subtle to severe. The Dragon Guardian chimney pot, right, stands nearly 6 feet tall and makes an imposing addition to the roofline. One style, not shown here, even blows smoke from its mouth.

Plenty to Pick From

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The selection of chimney pots available today includes a wide range of new and antique styles, shapes, and finishes. With hundreds to choose from, there's something for nearly every home style, from Tudor to Post Modern.

Candy Land

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Castellated tops and candy twist shafts are two of the uniquely beautiful design elements available in today's chimney pots. Custom chimney pots can include an almost unlimited array of unique patterns and shapes.

Playing with the Big Boys

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Today's larger homes have larger chimneys and flues, too. For those jobs, extra-large sized chimney pots like the Jumbo American E, the Stafford Magnum, and the Magnum Windsor fit the bill. Some magnum chimney pots reach as high as six feet and fit flues over two feet wide.

Don't Rain on Me

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Rain down the chimney isn't a problem everywhere, but in some climates a little extra protection is warranted. In those cases, homeowners may opt for a matching terra cotta rainguard. Many styles exist, and they can be matched to most new chimney pots, as well as some antiques.

Leeds, from Tall to Small

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An antique Leeds Roll Top chimney pot (58”) sits next to a modern variation of the same name. At right, a humble Leeds Beehive, only 18” tall. Note the rounded shaft, which is typical for chimney pots from the Leeds, England area.

An All-American: The Pittsburgh Octagon

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One of the most commonly purchased chimney pots in America is the Pittsburgh Octagon. Like most chimney pots, the Pittsburgh Octagon is available in a variety of finishes including glazed, red and buff.

The Beauty of an Antique

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The aged patina of an antique chimney pot can add an instant sense of age and authenticity to period-style construction or blend appropriately in a restoration. When buying an antique chimney pot for your house, be sure it has been inspected and deemed appropriate for chimney use.

No Need to Match

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Half the fun of selecting chimney pots can be mixing and matching. Here, two mismatched Victorian era chimney pots add an instant sense of age to this newly constructed chimney.

The Crowning Touch

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To see the difference chimney pots can make, cover the chimney pots on this house with your finger, then take your finger away. How does house change? The homeowner chose these beefy, octagonal chimney pots to create a sense of strength. Small, rounded pots, on the other hand, can make a house seem inviting and cozy.

How to Retire a Chimney

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Keeping Critters Out

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Here's a handy tip: to keep leaves and animals out of your flue, just cut and adhere a small piece of metal screen to the top of your chimney pot before installation. A small bead of silicone caulk does the trick. And check local codes—certain mesh sizes may even double as a spark arrestor.

Installing Your Chimney Pot

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Installing a chimney pot requires only a few basic tools and some mortar. recommends checking the mortar once every 10 years, or whenever the chimney is swept. Step-by-step installation instructions can be found at