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Custom Metal and Glass – Design, Fabrication and Installation
 
“Copper is a fairly expensive material, however due to its durability,
the cost is often seen as worthwhile.”
Metal Types
Metal Types Used in Architectural Work Get a Project Evaluation
The types of metal that are used in architectural work include:
Lead
Tin
Zinc
Copper
Nickel
Iron

We will examine each of these metals more closely below.

Lead
Lead has a low melting point, which is a quality that has promoted its use for centuries. In fact, prior to the late 19th century discovery that lead can cause health issues in humans if it is consumed even in trace amounts, many pipes that delivered drinking water were constructed of lead. Lead also has non-corrosive qualities, which caused it to be added to paint for many years. This too is no longer a common practice due to the prevalence of paint in homes and the negative health effects that lead can have on humans if consumed.

Lead has been used ubiquitously in roofing, gutters, downspouts, flashing, and conductor heads. Lead is also frequently used as the metal framing for stained glass or other intricate glass window work.

Tin
Tin is frequently alloyed with copper to form bronze. It is also frequently used to coat harder metals such as steel or iron. Because tin is a soft metal, when it is used alloyed with copper to form bronze, the distribution of metals is about 90% copper and 10% tin.

When a harder metal is coated in tin, it is referred to as “tinplate”. Tin roofs and tin ceilings are both examples of tinplating, not use of pure tin.

Zinc
Zinc was initially used as a roofing material in Europe, most prominently in the nations of Germany, France, and Belgium. Later, zinc-coated materials began to arise. Galvanized sheet iron coated in zinc gained popularity in the mid-1800s.

Zinc has also been used in decorative elements, again predominately in Europe. In the United States, zinc has lost some of its popularity as a roofing or decorative material, however it has been gaining some steam as of late.

Copper and Copper Alloys
Copper is a durable material that can withstand corrosion once it forms a patina, which is bluish-green in color. Famously, the Statue of Liberty is made of copper and is covered in this patina. Copper is a fairly expensive material, however due to its durability, the cost is often seen as worthwhile. Copper is used decoratively and in projects that require shaping such as chimneys and roof edges. When used in nails, screws, etc. copper is alloyed to prevent deterioration.

Nickel and Nickel Alloys
Nickel is used in buildings most frequently in the form of alloys. Common nickel allows include Monel metal, stainless steel, and nickel silver.

Nickel Silver contains 75% copper, 5% zinc, and 20% nickel while Monel metal is approximately 66% nickel and 33% copper. Nickel silver varies in its coloring depending on the specific percentage makeup, whereas Monel Metal tends to be bronze in coloring.

Iron and Iron Alloys
Iron is very commonly used in architectural work in the form of wrought iron, sheet iron, steel, and cast iron. Steel is an important application of iron and comes in the form of stainless and copper-bearing steel. Both are used commonly in architectural metal work.
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