When you’re looking for a chimney cap, there are so many factors to consider, including which size you may need, the width of the cap’s mesh, and how to install the cap itself. But one of the most fundamental questions when browsing metal chimney caps is simply, “Which metal should I get?”
It’s easy to assume all metals are created equally, but they aren’t. From their animal exclusion capabilities to their cost, chimney cap metal types have different strengths (and weaknesses) to offer depending on what you need your cap to do.
At HY-C, we make our chimney caps from four distinct types of metal:
- Galvanized steel
- Stainless steel
In this guide, we’re going to compare and contrast each of these types of chimney cap metal. There’s no best, one-size-fits-all solution — the goal is to help you understand the pros and cons of each metal to help you find the best fit for you and your home.
Aluminum Chimney Caps
Of the four metals we make our chimney caps from, aluminum is the softest. It does an excellent job keeping out rain, sleet, and snow out of your firebox, but it can potentially be vulnerable to critters who may want to get down your chimney.
Aluminum is so soft that many animals (like squirrels and raccoons) can chew straight through it. It’s for that reason that our HY-GUARD EXCLUSION line of animal exclusion products is made mostly of steel (both galvanized and stainless).
Aluminum is perhaps one of the most versatile chimney cap materials in terms of size. We manufacture our band-around-brick chimney cap and our multi-fit chimney cap in aluminum, and both styles are designed to fit a wide range of flue sizes. We even make a number of custom chimney caps in aluminum due to its pliability and versatility.
Aluminum chimney caps are some of the most economical chimney caps we manufacture. Depending on what size chimney cap you need, you can expect to pay between $90 and $200 for an aluminum cap (and more for a custom cap).
Black Galvanized Steel Chimney Caps
Black galvanized steel chimney caps are manufactured from untreated galvanneal. We add a black powder coat of paint during the manufacturing process to improve the aesthetics of the cap.
In most cases, black galvanized steel is able to offer comparable protection to stainless steel. Where it falls short, though, is in saltwater environments. If you live within 25 miles of an ocean or saltwater lake, the environment will accelerate the corrosion of your black galvanized steel chimney cap.
Because of its cost effectiveness, black galvanized steel is our best-selling chimney cap material by far. For this reason, we make it in dozens of stock sizes. From a 7.5” x 7.5” single-flue cap to a 22.5” x 69.25” multi-flue cap and everything in between, we’re virtually guaranteed to make a black galvanized chimney cap in a size you can use.
Even if we don’t, we manufacture custom Big Top chimney caps in black galvanized steel in sizes up to 40” x 96”.
Because of their many available sizes, black galvanized chimney caps carry a wide price range. From small single-flue caps to large multi-flue caps, they’ll generally set you back anywhere between $50 and $325.
The vast majority of customers, though, will likely end up paying somewhere between $50 and $100 — the price range for our most commonly-sold sizes.
Stainless Steel Chimney Caps
When it comes to protecting your chimney masonry, flue, and crown, it doesn’t get any better than a stainless steel chimney cap. Not only will stainless steel stand up to invasion attempts by birds, raccoons, squirrels, and more common wildlife, but it can also handle the harsh, corrosive saltwater environments that black galvanized steel can’t.
It’s not uncommon for stainless steel chimney caps to last on chimney flues and crowns for decades at a time. If it’s protection you want, stainless steel is your best choice.
Like black galvanized chimney caps, stainless steel caps are manufactured in a wide range of stock varieties to accommodate several chimney flues and crowns. Single-flue stainless steel caps can fit flues between 7.5” x 7.5” and 20.25” x 20.25”, and multi-flue stainless steel caps can fit chimney crowns from 16” x 16” all the way to 22.5” x 69.25”.
For any crowns outside of those ranges, we make three types of custom stainless steel chimney caps:
- Stainless steel Band-Around Brick caps
- Stainless steel Skirt-Type caps
- Stainless steel Big Top caps
Similarly to black galvanized chimney caps, the wide size range of stainless steel chimney caps results in a wide price range, too. All sizes included, a stainless steel HY-C chimney cap can cost anywhere from $80 to $500.
The size range of our most commonly-sold sizes, though, is between $80 and $200.
Copper Chimney Caps
Like aluminum, copper is a relatively soft metal. A copper chimney cap can handily provide the weather protection your chimney system needs, but like aluminum, it may fall short in the wildlife exclusion department.
Copper is harder than aluminum, and it may pose a bit more of a challenge to critters who may try to get past it. But if wildlife exclusion is your primary priority when perusing chimney caps, galvanized or stainless steel are better options than copper.
There are a few less stock copper chimney cap sizes available than galvanized or stainless steel sizes. For instance, our standard, single-flue stainless steel chimney cap is available in 11 sizes. The same style in copper is only available in 7 sizes.
This is primarily because homeowners don’t buy nearly as many copper chimney caps as steel chimney caps, largely due to the high cost copper entails.
Copper is very, very expensive, and copper chimney caps are no exception. From our smallest copper chimney cap to our largest sizes, prices range between $375 and $1,200. Custom copper caps potentially demand even higher price points, too.
Which Chimney Cap Metal Should You Get?
Getting the perfect chimney cap for your home entails choices at every turn, and selecting the right metal is no exception. Thankfully, there are only four types to choose from, and it can be pretty easy to eliminate options from that already-limited list.
Choosing a copper chimney cap requires a large financial commitment, so only pick copper if you have the cash to spare.
Aluminum caps are best if you’re a contractor or installer who serves several homes, because aluminum caps can fit multiple flue sizes for multiple customers.
Most homeowners will end up with a steel chimney cap. Galvanized is the more popular of the two due to its cost-effectiveness. If you’re willing to pay a little more for a bit of extra protection (or saltwater corrosion resistance), stainless steel is your best bet.
Whatever material you decide on, the next step is making sure your cap fits well. Our chimney cap size guide has everything you need to know to make sure you find the right chimney cap for the dimensions of your chimney flue or crown.