While the European market is zealous for zinc, more Americans are now using it in building projects because of its environmentally sustainable qualities, Davis says. Zinc is mined using an extraction process that avoids strip mining and requires less energy to refine, due to a lower melting point, when compared to other metals, such as aluminum, copper and steel.
“Zinc is also a sustainable material because it is so easily recycled,” Davis says. “As more homeowners become conscious of building green, zinc becomes an option, because it is considered a lifetime material.”
Professional installation is key to ensure zinc details like guttering, roofs and flashing not only look good, but also function properly. Quality craftsmanship includes soldered seams over rivets, and takes into account the expansion and contraction of the metal during temperature changes.
It’s also better to get zinc that’s been cut to specifications by an architectural fabricator, producing museum-quality edges, rather than installers rough-cutting on-site during an installation, Davis says. “A proper installation using zinc shouldn’t require caulks or sealant,” he says. “You want to create a waterproof seal by the way the zinc is detailed.”
Zinc is also best left to outdoor applications, and is not necessarily an ideal material to form a “counter- revolution.”
“I used to have two zinc countertops in my kitchen, but any acid — in the form of wine, vinegar or citrus — would leave a mark that I would have to rub out every night,” Davis says. “While zinc is a beautiful material, it’s a lot of work to maintain when used inside a home.”
Zinc is a memorable metal that is historic, yet has contemporary character. “Zinc complements and doesn’t compete with other materials — such as limestone — and its natural surroundings,” Davis says. “There’s a friendliness to zinc: It makes a statement by being able to blend with the ocean, the mountains or the sky.”