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Two scuppers cut into either side of this outdoor stairwell prevent water from building up and making the stairs slippery.

A scupper is an opening in the side walls of a vessel or an open-air structure, which allows water to drain instead of pooling within the bulwark or gunwales of a vessel, or within the curbing or walls of a building.

Ship's bulwark. 1. Gunwale, 2. Bulwark plating, 3. Flange, 4. Stanchion, 5. Stringer plate, 6. Stringer angle, 7. Sheerstrake. Scupper: 8. hole (with grille cover), 9. pipe, 10. outlet.

There are two main kinds of scuppers:

  1. Ships have scuppers at deck level, to allow for ocean or rainwater drain-off.[1]
  2. Buildings with railed rooftops may have scuppers to let rainwater drain instead of pooling within the railing. Scuppers can also be placed in a parapet, for the same purpose.[2]


  1. ^ Smyth, William Henry (2008). The Sailor's Word: A Complete Dictionary of Nautical Terms from the Napoleonic and Victorian Navies. Fireship Press. p. 625. ISBN 978-1-934757-41-3.
  2. ^ Sweet's Architectural Catalog File. Sweet's Division, McGraw-Hill Information Systems Company. 1918. p. 275.

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