Midland Lead explains why lead ticks all the boxes for architects

Boudewijn Tuinenburg, Managing Director of leading lead sheet manufacturer Midland Lead, discusses why lead offers such a magnificent finishing touch to a build and highlights the importance of using patination oil to perfect the job.

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esthetically speaking, lead’s natural, weathered appearance ticks all the right boxes with architects and building contractors. Its look perfectly complements the built environment, whether in a heritage or contemporary setting, and is often cited as one of the main reasons it’s specified.

In the case of heritage projects, old existing lead is often removed from a roof, recast and then reinstalled. This ensures a building’s historical continuity, a wonderfully authentic finish and provides it with a new lease of life. Similarly, with contemporary projects, lead is prized for its natural, stylish look, such as is the case with the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, which is famously wrapped in a large lead facade, displaying an air of quality and distinction.

Praised as much for its flexibility as it is for its looks, many in the industry also appreciate the fact that as a malleable material, lead can adapt to almost any area of a building; it can be used on flat roofs, pitched roofs, vertical cladding, dormer windows, soffits, gutters and even used to create intricate lead motifs.

While offering the perfect finishing touch in its own right, lead’s impressive aesthetic qualities can, in fact, be further enhanced with the help of patination oil. The go-to product for professional lead workers, those who use patination oil demonstrate a real attention to detail and understanding of the material.

Enhancing the natural lustre of lead, using a coat of patination oil really does make a difference. Not only giving newly-laid leadwork an attractive grey shine, a layer of patination oil seals the surface of the lead from damp, avoiding runoff and preventing staining on the adjacent brickwork and tiles adjoining the leadwork.

To get the best results, patination oil should be applied at the end of a day’s work on a clean and dry surface, and is a relatively quick and cheap job when compared with the time-consuming alternative of trying to remove stains with cleaning gel at a later phase. After thoroughly shaking the bottle according to the product’s instructions, simply soak a clean cloth with the oil and apply one coat, working from the top of the lead panel downwards. It’s important not to use a scrubbing or circular motion when applying the oil, and to only apply one coat.

When fitted and treated correctly, it’s not surprising to learn that this adaptable, aesthetically-pleasing and long-lasting material has been utilised for the past six thousand years. And we have no doubt that lead will continue to bring a wonderfully natural weathered finish to both historic and modern builds for thousands more years to come.

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