Zinc Overview

For centuries, zinc has been recognized as a trusted and versatile architectural metal. Today, zinc continues to expand the timeless traditions of form, function and artistic expression that make it a natural choice for designers, architects, and builders From the rich architectural heritage of the past, to the contemporary tastes and advanced technologies of today and the future, zinc is an affordable, long-life, cost-effective material. With zinc’s abundant choice of colors and finishes, it’s versatility and workability and understated elegance make it a very attractive option for architectural metal cladding and roofing.

Corrosion Resistance and Longevity
The physical properties of zinc make it a very unique and useful material to be used as an exterior building surface. Zinc has the ability to resist continued corrosion. Upon exposure to moisture and carbon dioxide, both present in our atmosphere, a protective layer of zinc carbonate forms on its surface, prohibiting the corrosion process that steel experiences. The resulting zinccarbonate layer creates an attractive bluish patina for a very desirable appearance. In addition to its appealing finish, this protective barrier provides longevity that will allow zinc to protect a building’s exterior for years to come. It is not uncommon for a properly designed zinc roof or wall panel system to last over 50 years in most climatic conditions. Another unique  characteristic of zinc is that it can “heal” itself overtime. As it continues to patina throughout its life, scratches and imperfections that were once present will virtually disappear. There are however certain conditions that will prohibit the protective patina from forming. If zinc is exposed to moisture, from humidity, condensation or even submersion in water without the presence of carbon dioxide, white rust will form. Just as with rust on the surface of steel, this white rust will continue to deteriorate zinc. This condition can also occur on the backside or underside of a zinc panel that is not exposed to the exterior environment where carbon dioxide is prevalent. To prevent white rust from forming, the backside or underside of a standing-seam roof panel or wall panel, or the interior side of a gutter, should be always be coated to prevent deterioration. Ventilation should also be provided behind panels to promote air flow that will move away any moisture that may accumulate due to condensation.

Thermal Expansion and Contraction
It is especially critical to allow for sufficient thermal movement for architectural zinc panels, as it can expand over twice the distance of a steel panel. Even in California’s temperate climate, zinc will actually expand almost an entire inch for every 30 feet of  panel when exposed to extreme temperature differentials. If clips or fasteners restrict the panel when the expansion or contraction of the metal occurs, the surface of the panel will buckle. This increase in deflection is more prevalent with larger  panels. Restricting the movement of the panels will also cause the solder or sealants that help make the system watertight to break down over time. All components should be given approximately ¼”- ½” at laps, ends, joints and seams to allow for  thermal expansion

Conventional installation and fabrication techniques, similar to those used for other architectural metals, apply to zinc. Its workability is comparable to copper. Standard metal forming tools, processing and machinery are employed. Zinc can be soldered,
and accepts adhesives and sealants well. Zinc is available in coil and sheet widths up to 48” wide. Typical thicknesses from .7mm to 1.5mm.

Green Building Product
Sustainable materials are key elements of green buildings. Some benefits of sustainable materials include durability, long life, recyclability, and energy and thermal efficiency. Zinc ranks highly in all of these categories.

A Cost Effective Building Material
Zinc is competitively priced with other architectural metals. New, more effective production techniques, combined with an abundance of raw and refined ore, have improved availability. Zinc’s corrosion immunity lowers its installed unit cost.  Well researched designs that exploit its unique attributes and long-term savings from durability and low maintenance make zinc a competitive architectural building material on a life-cycle basis. 25- Year Warranty

In Conclusion
When installed properly and appropriate considerations are taken to assure its surrounding are suitable, zinc is an aesthetically pleasing, long-lasting and beneficial alternative for roofing and cladding. Very few metals, practical for use in building  design, offer such an attractive array of characteristics, making zinc an easy choice for many designers. Its architectural appeal is continually growing as more designers are realizing the benefits of this beautiful metal. We selectively partner with  vendors offering the highest quality materials available in many sizes, thicknesses, colors and finishes. Please contact us for details.