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Why We Use Metal Sheets Essay

1837 words - 7 pages

For as long as people have had the means, metal has been beaten into sheets and used for architectural purposes, from roof coverings to sewer pipes. In the late seventeenth century, this hand-hammering process was later replaced by large “rotating iron cylinders” which pressed metal into flattened sheets (Simpson 31). These water-powered rolling mills allowed for more uniform sheets as well as a less laborious and time-consuming process. The sheets were allowed to be thinner, which was advantageous when creating smaller details, such as gutters and roofing. The process of creating metal sheet metal evolved, creating a better product.
The early materials used were lead, copper, zinc, and iron; steel was introduced as another material in the late nineteenth century. Lead was used mainly for roofing, gutters, and downspouts. However, it was quickly discovered that because of the severe climates, the expansion and contraction of the metal meant it would tear easily. As a solution, it was melted and mixed with tin to form as alloy as a coating. This provided a more stable building material (31). Copper was also used because it was more durable and lighter in weight than lead. As it was

Tin was another material, but it was too soft to be used by itself. For this reason, it was combined with other materials, such as iron, providing a more aesthetically pleasing coating on the exterior. While it could cost almost twice as much as an iron roof, it was sure to last three times as long (32). Because of the expense, it was used only for roofing on important buildings, while smaller decorative details were used on less important commercial and residential structures. Copper became a less popular material to use for ceiling tiles because of how expensive it was. In one trade catalog by the sheet-metal manufacturer W.H. Mullins stated that because the demand was so limited and the cost so high, he felt it was not “justified [to] carry them in stock” ().

Copper was a material that was also used because it was more durable and lighter than lead. It was a very expensive building material, but had a long life. While it could cost almost twice as much as an iron roof, it was sure to last three times as long. While it weathered, a protective coating formed with the patina, which not only prevented corrosion, it also gives it its distinct green appearance. Because of the expense, it was used only for roofing on important buildings, while smaller decorative details were used on less important commercial and residential structures. Copper became a less popular material to use for ceiling tiles because of how expensive it was. In one trade catalog by the sheet-metal manufacturer W.H. Mullins stated that because the demand was so limited and the cost so high, he felt it was not “justified [to] carry them in stock” (citation #4).
Iron was used before the Industrial Revolution; however, it was here that it gained popularity. It was popularly used in its wrought...

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