The History of Copper in Architecture

copper dome roofCopper, with its beautiful reddish-orange hue and amazing durability, was one of the first metals ever used by humans. It was used at least 10,000 years ago in western Asia for making coins and ornaments, and it continues to be used today to create copper dome roofs, cookware, jewelry, copper roof shingles, and so much more. History has proven that copper does more than stand the test of time.

Massive doors to the temple of Amen-Re in ancient Egypt were clad with copper because of its beauty and massive strength. Copper roofing shingles were installed on top of the Lowa Maha Paya Temple in Sri Lanka in 3rd Century B.C. The copper roof of Hildersheim Cathedral (installed in 1280 A.D.) is still standing today.

Copper and its alloys were even integral in medieval architecture. One of Europe’s most important Renaissance castles, Kronborg, had a copper roof that was installed in 1585 and renovated in 2009. These are just a few of the many examples of how copper was used (and beloved) long before the 20th and 21st century. Even distinguished architects, such as the following, relied heavily on copper:

• Frank Lloyd Wright
• Michael Graves
• Renzo Piano
• Malcom Holzman
• Frank O. Gehry

As in demand as copper may have been thousands of years ago, the current global demand for copper continues to grow; world refined usage has more than tripled in the last 50 years. In fact, global copper consumption currently stands at some 21.4 million metric tons. Refined copper usage (usage by semis plants or the first users of copper) in 2012 reached 20.5 million tons. China was the largest consumer of refined copper in 2012 with an apparent usage of over 8.8 million tons.

When it comes to the production of mined copper, the United States is the world’s fourth largest producer. The largest copper mines in the U.S. are Morenci in Arizona and Bingham Canyon in Utah, and in 2012, mine production came to about 1.15 million metric tons. Copper definitely plays an important role in today’s economy.

The Production of Copper

Whether there’s a need for copper dome roofing or copper roofing material, the production of copper is the same. So how exactly is copper produced? The seven following steps outline the simple process that happens when copper is created:

1. Copper-bearing ores are extracted through mining techniques.
2. Once the ore has been mined it is crushed and ground.
3. Then comes concentration by flotation in which the copper minerals and waste rock are separated.
4. In the smelting process, copper is extracted from its ore through heating and melting, and the copper is transformed into a matte that contains 50-70% copper.
5. The molten matte is processed in a converter that results in a blister copper that has about 99% copper content.
6. The blister copper is fire refined by re-melting and casting it into anodes for electro-refining.
7. Electro-refining results in a 99.99% copper content.

Once copper goes through this entire process, it is ready to be used by manufacturers for copper roofing panels, copper dome house creation, copper dome roof installation, and any other copper creations or products. The beauty of copper is that it is so versatile, durable, and attractive, and therefore it can be used for both visual and functional purposes.

Benefits of Copper as a Roofing Material

copper dome roofingOne of the best ways to use copper is for copper roofing purposes. You can use copper shingles to create a metal roof or you can use them to create a copper shingle dome. Why is copper in particular such a great option when it comes to metal roof shingles? The following benefits explain why.

• Corrosion resistance. On the surface of copper, tough oxide-sulfate patina form to protect underlying copper surfaces from corrosion, which is the gradual destruction of metal due to a chemical reaction with its environment. This is perfect for copper roofs because you’ll never have to worry about needing to replace your roof.
• Durability. Copper roofs can last for hundreds of years because of the protective patina that forms on the surface of copper. Eighteenth century European copper roofs have proven that architectural copper domes can last for more than one thousand years.
• Low maintenance. Copper does not require cleaning or maintenance, which is why it’s the perfect material for roofs. After your  copper roof installation, you’ll never have to go up on the roof again to clean or fix it.
• Lightweight. A copper roof, whether it’s a standing seam copper roof or an architectural copper dome, is extremely light. It’s half the weight of lead roofs and a quarter of the weight of tiled roofs. This saves you money in supporting structure and material costs, and it’s safer all around.
• Ventilation. Copper does not need complex ventilation measures. It works for ventilated cold roof constructions and unventilated warm roof constructions.
• Lightning protection. The most common materials used in residential lightning protection materials are copper and its alloys. Due to its electrical conductivity, copper effectively transmits lightning energy to the ground. Thus, a copper roof alone will give you all the lightning strike protection you need.
• Various finishes. The surface of copper can be chemically altered to create a different color. While copper itself produces a patina finish as it ages, it can be treated to produce that same green or patina finish before it starts to age.
• Recyclability. Copper is virtually 100 percent recyclable, and it can be recycled thousands of times without losing any of its quality. Not only is this great for the environment, but it’s great for people who are looking for sustainable materials to build their roofs with.

Call Fine Metal Roof Tech Today to Order Copper Shingles for Your Roof

If you want to start reaping the benefits of a copper dome roof or other metal roofing shingles, call Fine Metal Roof Tech today. We have a talented team that conceptualizes, develops, tests, and refines all of our products, whether they’re copper shingles or aluminum shingles. If you’re looking for a certain style or color of metal shingle, we have it. Contact Fine Metal Roof Tech today by calling (801) 462-5264 or by visiting for a free quote.