Evolution of Roof Sheeting: From Traditional to Modern Materials

Feb 27, 2024 | Articles

roof sheeting

A roof is one of the most important structural components of any building, providing both humans and livestock with adequate shelter from the elements. Changing agricultural practises and economic pressures in the 19th century introduced farmers and property owners to metal roof sheeting, a more affordable and durable alternative to traditional materials.

So, how did roofing evolve to the corrugated iron structures that you see transforming the cultural landscape? Let the expert steel manufacturers, Chemvet Steel & Fencing, take you on a global journey from London to South Africa, and along the way, we will discover how roof sheeting landed on our shores, fast becoming one of the most popular roof choices today.


Roof Sheeting: From the Dockyards to the Goldfields

Throughout history, the materials and styles of roofs kept evolving from flat rocks and mud to rudimentary tiles and thatch, to name a few, until a gentleman by the name of Henry Robinson Palmer, an engineer and architect, recognised the potential that corrugated iron had for covering wide-span roofs. From the dockyards of what was then Victorian Britain, these lightweight metal sheets were exported to countries that had embraced migrant workers when gold rush fever struck. The need for affordable infrastructure in South Africa during this time made it the ideal material to import and use for roof sheeting and wall cladding to build temporary housing.

For nearly two centuries, the distinctive properties of corrugated iron have sparked the fascination of architects and builders alike. This roof sheeting and cladding has formed part of South Africa’s fascinating heritage.


How Corrugated Sheeting Has Aided in Building a Better Future

Through innovation and modern technology, we at Chemvet Steel & Fencing have taken the genius of previous industries and the basic composition of corrugated iron and evolved with the times to offer superior-quality roof sheeting, such as:

IBR Roof Sheeting

Compared to corrugated iron, Inverted Box Rib (IBR) roof sheeting exhibits a more robust profile characterised by elevated ridges and significantly deeper valleys. This enhanced geometry translates to a superior capacity to handle increased water volumes, particularly during times of heavy precipitation. Consequently, IBR roofs can be installed with a lower pitch, reducing the overall steepness of the roof.

Widespan Roof Sheeting

In contrast to the higher cost of IBR, Widespan presents itself as a financially advantageous and functionally capable alternative. It achieves the aesthetics of its pricier counterpart while simultaneously maintaining the effective covering width associated with corrugated sheeting. The pronounced rib profiling of this roof sheeting gives it superior resistance to harsh weather conditions and makes it the ideal roofing to use in conjunction with rainwater harvesting.

As the “grandfather” of our industry, corrugated iron will never be forgotten and our S-Rib profile is still used extensively today, remaining the popular choice amongst farmers, city dwellers, as well as our commercial and industrial communities. Corrugated iron roof sheeting has had a hand in shaping the rural landscape. By replacing traditional materials that have deteriorated over time, it has extended the lifespan of many buildings.


Your Steel Manufacturing Specialists

Strategically located in Germiston, we at Chemvet Steel & Fencing have proudly serviced diverse market sectors with quality steel and fencing products for over four decades. Our unwavering commitment to excellence and a wealth of experience in the industry has allowed us to expand our reach beyond South Africa, serving neighbouring countries and further afield. Contact us to discuss your project requirements and discover how we can be your trusted partner in building secure and functional structures.

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