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Tin Roofing by Bill Bradley
When Tennessee Williams wrote his famous play "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama with it in 1955, corrugated tin roofing could indeed get very hot. "Well it's not hot any more, Mr. Williams!"

The roofing material otherwise known as corrugated iron would have to have been the single material that defines the the pioneering days of many countries. Known as tin roofing or galvanised iron it helped people to settle many of the worlds remote areas in the 19th century. From the pampas of South America to the goldfields of South Africa. It was seen on saloon roofs in the US "wild west" and on cattle stations in the Australian outback.

The term "Tin Roofing" comes from the process of tin plating iron sheets which has been around since the 16th century.

Combine this with the invention of the rolling machine in the 1830's and a unique roofing material was created.

Soon after the coating changed to zinc and so we got galvanised iron.

So we have phrases that live on in the language and that are still in common use today like Tennessee Williams' "tin roof" and the Aussie "galvanised iron" that will be around for years to come. They are of course completely wrong when talking about modern roofing materials.

* Tin as in corrugated tin roof has not been used since before Tennessee Williams time, but we still use the word in everyday language to talk about many things that are only remotely connected to the metal Tin.

* The word iron as in corrugated iron is still used today, but in actual fact the roofing material has been steel for well over one hundred years.

* The coating of some steel products with zinc in the galvanisation process is still alive and well, but in the steel roofing field it just about redundant apart from heritage work.

* Since 1972 Galvalume coated steel has gradually replaced all other methods of protecting steel roofing materials.

* Galvalume is a 55% Al-Zn (aluminium and zinc alloy)coated sheet steel product, which goes under various trade names around the world, depending on the manufacturer.

* When the base sheeting is coated with the aluminium and zinc alloy only, that is no further coloured coatings, it does look similar to the old galvanised iron, but it does not have the spangled effect.

So what are the advantages of corrugated tin roofing or to use it's correct modern name roll formed steel roofing.

* As I said previously corrugated tin roofing is not hot any more. The low thermal mass and the highly reflective coatings combined with modern roofing insulation materials give steel the edge over most other roofing products in the energy conservation field, which means less power consumption for cooling.

* Modern steel roofing profile provide structural stiffness along the lengths of the sheets. This means that materials like ply sheathing is not required making roof framing process cheaper.

* Steel mills are huge production factories that are few an far between, but since the invention of the roll forming process it is now possible to transport coils or the sheet material economically to small local roll forming businesses.

* Roll forming machine can produce almost any length of sheets. The only restriction is the length of the available transport.


* This means that most homes can now have corrugated tin roofing with no unnecessary joints.

* The strength to weight ratio of modern corrugated tin roofing is second to no other roofing material. I live in a house that is a few hundred meters from the sea in the highest cyclonic terrain category, my family and I have been through intense hurricane force winds (cyclone Tracy 1974) and we have no doubts that our steel roofing will protect us in the event of another "big blow".

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So, forget all about cats on hot corrugated tin roofs, and consider modern steel roofing if you want a cost effective, good looking, strong and cool roof.

I have written more about tin roofing at http://www.builderbill-diy-help.com/corrugated-tin-roofing.html

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