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Cupola Style Guide

The architectural structure referred to as a cupola is most often found atop churches and other formal buildings. This unique piece can be designed in a variety of styles, materials and sizes that will best compliment your structure.

There are a range of structures that can be added to your church or building to create a unique style and draw favorable attention. From steeples to cupolas to baptistries and more, here at American Steeples, we offer customizable and standard products that you will be proud of.

At American Steeples, we aim for all churches to be fit with the highest quality products and accessories to create a welcoming and attractive environment:

Cupola History

The word cupola is derived from the latin word “cupula” which means “small cup.” The cupola shape resembles the shape of a cup turned upside down and often features a pointy top or side paneling and windows.

Traced back to 8th century Islamic architecture, the cupola has played a significant role in inspiring structure designs such as the dome. The cupola design spread across Europe and was often situated upon prestigious property buildings.

Cupola Purposes

In the past, cupolas were built with a variety of purposes in mind, but now they are mainly produced and installed to add a structural detail to your church or building. Due to their diverse uses cupolas are often used on an array of building types such as government buildings, barnes and more:

  • Ventilation: Cupolas have been installed to help ventilate spaces and allow an easy entry for fresh air into the building while still providing overhead protection. Due to this natural flow of air, cupolas can be found upon barns to help with ventilation and to help keep hay dry.

  • Lighting: With the option of having windows, cupolas have the ability to provide lighting by serving as a small sunroom feature.
  • Bell or Clocks: While not as popular today, cupolas used to hold bells and clocks on top of structures. This would allow for extra detail to a building and gave them a functional purpose that all could witness.


The design for your cupola structure can be customized with specific detail to ensure your existing structure and aesthetic is matched. Some cupolas are fit with a rounded dome shape cap, a pointed cone top, crosses and other detailed designs protruding from the top, and many other options. The actual shape of the cupola can vary from circle to square to even octogonal.

Choosing a classic, long lasting design will avoid you having to replace your cupola often. Different colors and materials can also be mixed in the design to create a unique look and feel. A white base with colored side panels or windows can add an eye catching touch to your cupola.


While your cupola size choice is completely up to you, there are recommended proportions that will help you cupola compliment your church best. It is recommended that your cupola should have a minimum base width equal to one inch for every foot of uninterrupted roofline.

Installing two smaller cupolas atop a large roof is also an option rather than having one large structure.


Your cupola should be made with high quality, lasting materials that are able to withstand the natural environment. While cupolas in the past have been constructed from wood, plastic or metal, here at American Steeples we use premium fiberglass to produce our products.

According to Religious Product News, fiberglass technology along with the nature of the material allow for intricate detailed designs to be produced. This material also results in a clean finish that requires minimal upkeep.

Placement Options

Selecting a cupola that best fits your building can be a difficult process. Knowing that this structure, if built and installed correctly, will be around for a while can be even more overwhelming. Here at American Steeples, we are ready to work alongside you for every decision or question you may have regarding your future cupola. With standard and customizable fiberglass cupolas available, contact us today!

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