Copper is a beautiful metal, and topping your chimney with a copper cap will accentuate almost every brick color and add to the general feel of your home. Copper chimney caps, although beautiful, do not come without a price. They are more
expensive than your normal stainless steel chimney cap. Similarly, they require additional maintenance. Stainless steel chimney caps require maintenance only if the wind blows them off of the top of the chimney. Copper chimney caps will turn green over time if not properly shined and maintained. This color often looks perfectly fine on homes, but homeowners who wish the keep their shiny penny copper chimney cap must either clean it regularly themselves or call a professional.
Stainless steel chimney caps act in much the same way as a copper cap only without the added maintenance and cost. Standard sized stainless steel chimney caps (approximately 12″ x 12″) will usually run less than $200. Custom made caps for multi-flue systems or particularly large or small chimneys will vary in cost. Stainless steel and copper are both resistant to rust but copper is known to be more durable since it is a heavier, stronger metal. Aluminum chimney caps are a weaker metal than stainless steel and have the tendency to rust. Often times the money you save by purchasing this less expensive metal you wind up paying in repairs as holes will rust into the cap.
At the end of the day a chimney cap is going to do a few things. It is going to prevent birds, bats, and the like from entering your chimney and calling it home for their nests and young. It is going to prevent rain that is falling straight down, not blown by the wind, from falling directly into your chimney. This rain water will accelerate the build-up of creosote in the chimney. Finally, a chimney cap is going to help protect the masonry surfaces at the very top of the chimney from damage. Whether you choose aluminum caps, stainless steel caps, or a copper chimney cover, the most important thing to remember is that every chimney needs a cap.