Steel is fabricated and shaped by sets of rollers while it's hot (1,700 degrees Fahrenheit) or cold (room temperature). Cold rolling strengthens the steel, allows for very precise machining tolerances and results in a smoother appearance. This product is sometimes also referred to as mild steel, and is subject to rusting without a finish. It's a perfect match for the rugged surroundings of this home, including the ground and the nearby wooden wall. It's similar to weathered wood in color but differs significantly in texture.
The process of hot rolling steel begins with larger raw materials and can be done more quickly (no need to wait for cooling) and efficiently. This process yields a less-expensive product than cold-rolled steel, but also one that has more size variability — shrinkage during cooling can be unpredictable. The surface appearance is often described as scaly. Used here in a more rustic and casual unfinished form, it's a fitting solution.
Metal shingles are typically site fabricated. This project employs small, rectangular pieces of galvanized sheet metal. The edges of each shingle are crimped to interlock with the adjacent shingles in a joint known as the flat-lock seam. They can be soldered to create a watertight shell or used in an open rain-screen configuration.
Oxidation gives galvanized sheet metal a mottled tone even at a distance. Depending on the size of the shingle, this mottling can be more or less pronounced.
In this project's marine environment, the copper used to clad this outdoor fireplace chimney will change with time — from bright to bronze and ultimately to verdigris. This natural oxidation process forms a protective patina of copper sulfate. As it ages, this surface will gain depth and color while subtly marking the passage of time.
The price of copper has increased drastically in recent years, putting this wall treatment on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Because metal is subject to expansion, care must be taken to plan for this, especially in areas exposed to extreme solar gain. Smaller sizes and heavier gauges (thicknesses) will move less. The sun can cause an effect in larger sheets of metal known as oil canning, a noticeable rippling in the surface. Heavier gauges have a more uniform surface, as the material holds its shape more readily.
These steel shingles contrast the wood shingles in color, material and texture. This is bonderized steel: galvanized steel with a zinc phosphate finish and a chromate topcoat, which gives it a dull gray finish. The architect has further extended this contrast to the way the shingles express their skin-like nature. The wood shingles were overlayed on the metal shingles very deliberately and distinguish the building components — base, wall and roof — as well as their functions.
While an expensive metal, zinc has excellent weathering characteristics. It's the sacrificial metal used in the galvanizing process. It turns a soft dull gray without finish in a short period of time. Zinc can also be colored by various chemical washes to achieve the darker banding seen between the upper windows of this project.
Zinc is known for giving wall surfaces a very tailored look. The regular coursing pattern of zinc shingles reinforces the regimented ordering principles at work. Beware of using it near woods like cedar, which can cause unusual reactions and staining.
Often used as a roofing material, slate can be an equally durable wall cladding. The shingles here add a unique luster and deeply shadowed texture to the shell of this building. Slate comes at a premium cost, and walls must be designed to support the added weight. But the refined yet rugged elegance is hard to replicate.
Sometimes referred to by its trademarked name, Cor-Ten, this steel naturally weathers to a deep orange rust color as a natural barrier to further corrosion is created. The architects for this home have used recycled steel, drawing inspiration for the material palette from the colors found in the nearby canyon and the oaks onsite. Use weathering steel for a genuinely modern, warm and industrial look.
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