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Coastal Design Elements #2:
The Metal Roof

Brett Hanson

While searching for an appealing coastal home design that fits both your needs and taste you will undoubtedly discover that some design features instantly add a truly coastal feel to almost any design. The second installment in our continuing series about Coastal Design Elements explores the historical origin and modern implementation of the metal roof.

The history of metal roofing stretches back to 970 B.C., when the temple in Jerusalem was outfitted with a copper roof. This particular style of roof developed an island identity much later when it became popular in the Virgin Islands. Metal roofs were valued for several reasons. They were strong enough to resist earth- quakes and the strong winds of tropical hurricanes, while presenting a visually satisfying appearance. When coupled with the Dutch-style peaked roof and a decent drainage system, the metal would purify water which could be stored in a container for household use. The metal had the added benefit of being fire-resistant.

Robert L. Merwin & Co., a St. Croix island based business, was founded in 1892 to import corrugated metal for buildings. They made the product cheaper and much more widely available, which served to increase its use and establish metal roofing as a much more practical and versatile alternative to clay tiles. Popularity for metal as a roofing material has continued to rise rapidly.

The introduction of steel at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as a plethora of advances in the automated manufacturing of metal for construction has industry statistics projecting that the implementation of metal roofing will triple within the next five years. The latest techniques, including automated roll-forming, coatings, sealants, and fastening systems, have dramatically lowered the cost of steel roofing and only increased its versatility as the variety of colors, textures and styles has multiplied.

Many coastal homeowners and builders continue to choose metal roofing over clay tile and asphalt shingle alternatives due to its sturdiness, its visual adaptability, and its Caribbean allure. It is difficult to top the island charm that a metal roof brings to a seaside home.

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