In 100 BC, about the time of Julius Caesar, Romans were developing a revolutionary plumbing system. The technology and skills extrapolated from this new development of sheet metal work found their way to varied applications from food storage to the metal roof we recognize today. Romans found that metal, correctly installed, would keep roofs leak proof for hundreds of years; hence maintenance was also kept to a minimum. No longer did workers need to scale the treacherous heights of the buildings as with past frequency. The popularity of metal roofing spread like wildfire throughout Europe.
Due to the advent of the new metal roof technology, architects now had the freedom to design more expansive, taller, ornate and complex structures. Towers soaring to 600 feet started making regular appearances.
Problem was, excepting the new metal roof technology, the construction method of the towers and other tall building details remained the same as before. Augmented to fit the size and scope of these larger buildings, they quickly broke and toppled.
The predicament stemmed from the different properties of the materials used. Typically every structure would have a base of mortar, rocks or brick which would then be topped with a wooden framing structure, then covered with roofing material.
As we know, wood moves and flexes in a vastly different manner than does stone. Environmental effects like heat and wind exacerbated the stability of the structure as the transition areas fought with one another and ultimately failed. Engineers had a problem on their hands.
What the engineers came up with was genius. They developed a rounded, external “bumper” that absorbed the shock of the combined materials. Frangible no more, the structures now had a flexing point.
It is easy to identify where concrete stops and wood starts on the old master buildings of Europe, because those rounded shock absorber details are clear indicators. So a necessary technical feature became an ornamental one. Inspiration broke free and rounded details like turrets soon became the darlings of the design world. However, this posed another quandary: How to clad them.
Metal (predominantly copper) was the only real choice in the pre-crane and Genie boom era as maintenance issues were a real concern. Permanence was therefore paramount.
Engineers went through a number of prototypes. They started with a system similar to what many Americans use today and believe to be a quality system; a rectangle-shaped tile with a horizontal layout. Try as they might, this system failed time and again. It failed because it relied on direct fasteners that pulled out of the substrate and caused damage which in turn caused leaking.
The system also failed because the water channels were not properly directed. You can read more about this here: http://finemetalrooftech.com/blog/watch-out-for-water-how-the-right-roof-stays-water-tight/
Bottom line, the system failed because it was not properly engineered.
You can see here in the picture below, a popular modern system (very similar to the failed system of old) and how it lifts up with wind and weather. This roof is less than 5 years old. These aluminum shingles are billed as “interlocking” shingles with a “lifetime” warranty. What’s your vote?
There were so many problems with this system, that engineers had no choice but to scrap the idea completely. Back to the drawing board, they finally found their inspiration: an interlocking diamond-shaped shingle. A design so brilliant, it COULDN’T fail.
These shingles were permanent as they were made of metal and fastened indirectly. They were strong as each of the sides were secured with these indirect fasteners. Each shingle was perfectly interlocked with each adjoining piece. And, the shingles could be easily wrapped around any radiused object. Problem solved!
But their real magic was in their flexibility. Each shingle could move independently of the others and could conform to the expansion and contraction of the substrate and adjoining materials.
Standing seam technology was perfect for use on transition areas then as it is now. http://finemetalrooftech.com/products/standing-seam-system/
Fine Metal Roof Tech interlocking metal shingles are the same, engineered design as those used on buildings still standing maintenance-free for over half a millennium. We have updated our system to reflect modern engineering advances and to meet the needs of today’s client.
It is no coincidence we chose 72 degrees as the standard for our diamond shaped shingles. 72 degrees for our purposes anyway, is a magic number. No matter where the base line of the shingles starts, it can be followed in the same line of sight to the top of the round structure and is therefore considered to be supremely aesthetic. Follow the red line on the turret pictured below to see this phenomenon “in action”:
Compare this turret with the following picture of one of Schloss Wenckheim’s towers.
We used 90 degree shingles here as this is a modified turret. (The top doesn’t meet at a singular point.) We could have certainly used 72 degree angle shingles here or, frankly any angle, but stayed with the original design. Don’t forget, we can make our shingles in any angle you please! But by far our most popular and universally flattering is our 72 degree diamond shaped shingle.
Radiused metal details can be confusing to plan for and calculate. We’ll gladly help you with any technical or estimation questions. That’s one of our best features! We’ve seen countless attempts from other companies to use systems similar to ours to cover round details. To an untrained eye, at best they look passable, but there is no way they are waterproof.
Even with a system as simple as ours, there are still rules to follow. We can help you with your designs so you can avoid problems like this. You now have a friend upon whom you can rely to make sure your designs will stand the test of time.
We are the undisputed experts on radiused metal details. Our products are a perfect solution for your round architectural features. We have taken the best of German engineering and made it easy for anyone to install.
We look forward to sharing our round metal detail expertise with you. Call us today! 801-462-5264 We’re here to help!