Being one of the oldest metals known to man, copper has played an important role in the design and architecture of all types of structures for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, the massive doors to the temple of Amen-Re at Karnak were covered with copper. The 162-foot-tall, nine-story Loha Maha Paya temple built in the third century B.C. in Sri Lanka was adorned with copper roof shingles. From the spires and roofs of the celebrated castles and cathedrals of Europe to the solid copper “Golden Temple” in Kunming, China, or the famous baptistery doors of Italy’s Florence Cathedral, copper has continued to serve as decorative and functional elements on some of the world’s oldest and most famous architecture.
One of the oldest copper-roofed structures in America is the historic Christ Church in Philadelphia which dates back to 1727. But perhaps the most enduring copper icon in U.S. history is the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Lady Liberty was sculpted in 1884 from over 160,000 pounds of the semi-precious metal.
The good news is you don’t have to have an enormous, historical building (or statue!) to enjoy the benefits of copper. A copper roof can be installed on a residential home using various methods including standing seam, batten seam, flat seam and shingles. Copper can also be used for gutters and downspouts, flashing, dormers, fascia wrap, window wrap and chimney caps. This versatility is motivating more and more homeowners to turn to architectural sheet metal while making home improvements, but that isn’t the only reason.
Estimations put the lifespan of a copper roof at more than 100 years, while asphalt shingles usually last only an average of 15-30 years. This makes copper one of the most cost-effective roofing materials on the market. The natural patina that develops with age serves as a protective shell giving the copper greater longevity. In most areas copper weathers naturally to a beautiful blue-green color and in arid climates it turns more of a nut brown. This change is the result of surface oxidation caused mainly by moisture and corrosive elements in the atmosphere. Unlike rust oxidation, the copper patina is a protective barrier that slows further corrosion and therefore helps maintain copper’s long life.
Each year high winds cause billions of dollars of damage to buildings, but according to Underwriters Laboratories’ tests, a standing seam copper roof is rated for resistance to the highest winds, enduring gusts up to 140 miles per hour. For us Midwesterners a metal roof is a great choice because it can handle large amounts of snow very well. A metal roof will shed snow faster than a shingled roof, therefore protecting its structural integrity. It can also eliminate ice damming so water won’t back up and collect under the roof and then leak into your home.
With growing concerns for the environment, it is valuable to know that copper has one of the highest recycling rates of any engineering metal making it extremely environmentally friendly. Because of its value, copper can be salvaged and recycled and will therefore never be discarded or end up in a landfill. Metal roofing rates highly for energy efficiency as well. Copper will absorb less heat into the home, but it will also radiate less heat. This helps keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter which translates to smaller energy bills. Reduced energy consumption also means a healthier environment and who can argue with that?
Guttersmiths Roofing and Sheet Metal is tremendously proud of their work with copper, for both the sustainability and the aesthetic values it possesses. To see some of our work, scroll through our previous blog posts or check out our photo gallery.
If you would like to talk about how to improve your home with copper, please give Guttersmiths a call at (608) 318-1138 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.