Posted May 19th, 2014 by Christy Serafini
In an external struggle to balance beautiful aesthetics with functional design, architects have to make a lot of tough calls. Durability, economics, weather resistance, and even the acoustics of any given decision are under constant scrutiny. Given such a complicated and competitive environment, it’s all the more surprising to see how popular zinc roofing has become for architects. There are more than a few compelling reason why zinc is getting so much affection, and it’s worth exploring a few of them in more detail.
Zinc is Durable
Zinc is very good at enduring the elements. It’s weatherproof, it naturally resists corrosion, it’s fire resistant, and it isn’t degraded by UV radiation. It’s less reactive to air and water than both iron and copper, which makes zinc roofing an ideal choice on any structure in a region with significant quantities of rainfall or direct sunlight.
Zinc is also a relatively versatile material. Commonly cut as 0.7 mm, zinc is easy to form into nearly any shape or contour, from highly pragmatic utilitarian designs to highly imaginative and creative ones. As a roofing material, zing is a strong candidate for pitches anywhere between 5 and 90 degrees. With such a huge range of potential forms, it’s easy to see why zinc is a favorite for creating uncommon or unusual buildings.
Additionally, the anti-corrosive properties of zinc make it resistant to the growth of mold, mildew, and fungus. That means there is virtually no maintenance involved with maintaining a zinc roof, no need for regular repainting, and so on. It’s reasonable to expect as much as a century of service life out of a zinc roof, and indeed, there are several examples of zinc roofs in The Netherlands and Belgium with more than a century of service.
For the sake of comparison, the lifespan of a steel roof in a rural area is about 25 years. Keep in mind, those two and a half decades are also peppered with routine maintenance and repair as the steel gradually succumbs to the elements. The fact that you don’t have to look very long to find a supplier eager to offer a 50 year warranty for their zinc roofing should give you a good idea about the comparative durability of zinc.
Zinc is Affordable
Another reason that zinc has become so popular is that it’s completely affordable, with one caveat, investing in a zinc roof is typically a front-loaded expense. Architects understand that the low maintenance cost and durability of zinc mean incredible long term value, allowing zinc to stack up fairly well against metal alternatives like steel and copper. And because zinc has low value on the scrap market, it’s unlikely to be stolen.
Zinc Looks Good
Architects like metal roofing because it lasts and it looks great, and zinc is no exception. With a relatively wide range of zinc finishes available, a zinc roof can be made to perfectly suit any building aesthetic. Although some would say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there’s no doubt that the popularity of zinc roofing among architects is at least partially due to how beautiful a well-designed zinc roof can look.
Zinc is Green
Ecofriendly and self-sustaining buildings are becoming popular all around the globe. Although zinc has more environmental impact than constructing your roof from palm leaves, it’s comparably greener than nearly all metal alternatives. Metals like aluminum take as much as four times the energy to produce. Zinc is also totally recyclable.