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17th Mar 2016

A Dying Skill or a Rising Art - Lead Sheet Workmanship Lives On

StuartBarrCDR trusted subcontractor and professional, specialist roofer Matt Simpson, learned his skills in the time tested way; passed on from father to son through the generations. According to Matt “lead roofing is an art form…and its welding is executed as much by feeling as by science and technique”. In his experience the slower you go the faster it happens. Taught through trial and error, at the age of 16, Matt remembers well his lead welding practice sessions in the yard and still has the scars to show for it!

Expert Darren Tutt at LSA (the Lead Sheet Association) shares his views through a recent article in a RIBA journal supplement collaboration: 

It is always satisfying to see a tried and tested traditional material finding modern uses; and with rolled lead sheet, its virtues are aesthetic as much as practical. True, it has an admirably long lifespan - no problem specifying for a 60 year life or more, so lifestyle costs are impressive - but beyond this; its malleability, colour and texture are finding new adherents. Lead is a natural material that can wrap around complex shapes in a way that more rigid modern products cannot… and it ages very gracefully.

To this, add its eco-credentials. Lead Sheet enjoys a BRE Green guide rating of A+ and A in vertical cladding and roofing applications. Its carbon footprint is considerably lower than, for instance, copper, zinc or stainless steel. Its low melting point means that when manufactured or recycled it requires far less energy than other metals. Being 100% recyclable with zero degradation means it need never go to landfill. Practically all the lead sheet available in the UK has already previously been recycled from other sources, such as the automotive industry.  This, then, is a zero-waste material. It requires no special handling beyond standard construction industry precautions and is usually installed by skilled contractors backed by guarantee.

A Contemporary Building Material: Lead as a building material is truly back in vogue, used by architects as a contemporary building material in many different scenarios. Recently the LSA (Lead sheet association) joined forces with the RIBA to create a special journal supplement to showcase the versatility of British Standard rolled lead sheet on a range of interesting projects. Click here to view.

Interesting facts to consider about the use of rolled lead sheet:

  • Lead’s flexibility and malleability allow it to move in sympathy with buildings over the years.
  • Lead’s longevity can result in substantial savings in maintenance and insurance costs.
  • Lead is one of the most environmentally friendly options.

There are many ‘rumours’ about lead sheet construction. To read more about the ‘whats’ and ‘what nots’ click here.

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