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Academic Project: replacing a 100-year-old copper roof

by Linda Schmid
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The original batten seam copper roof on this Upper Michigan high school (formed over 1″ x 1″ oak battens, 3′ on center) was installed 100 years ago using 16 oz copper sheets. Over time, the panel folds slowly wore out as the open attic air allowed wind to raise and lower the panels. This ultimately led to rot on the oak battens, and eventually a storm lifted the entire copper roof off of the deck like a billowing sail.

The unfortunate roof malfunction resulted in an insurance claim, with local roofing company, Dan Perkins Construction, winning the bid—they even threw in a number of extras (such as attic insulation and metal wrap on the cupola and fascia), as it was their local school. They increased the copper thickness to 20 oz, strengthening the new installation. In all other ways, they made the roof identical to the one they removed—with oak battens and double-locked caps over 3′ panels. Over time, the new section will blend in with the school’s remaining original roofing.

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