Copper Roofing Seminars Teach New Skills Using Traditional Techniques

April 24, 2006


NEW YORK, NY— Architectural and ornamental copper on residential and commercial buildings is experiencing a renaissance throughout the United States. To help meet the needs of this growing market, the Copper Development Association (CDA) is sponsoring a series of intensive hands-on training programs to teach construction personnel the techniques needed to properly install and maintain copper roofing and other architectural features.

Vasse Vaught, owner of a metalcrafting firm in Christiansburg, Virginia, led a recent class in Bedford, New York. Vaught, who spent five years learning the timeless skills of this craft and working as a journeyman "tinner" in the legendary trade guilds of Switzerland and Germany, covered the basics of copper soldering and brazing and quickly moved into proper cladding and repair techniques used in roofing, flashing, gutters and other applications. During the three-day course, participants installed copper roofing on wood roof mock-ups that featured steep angles, irregular sides and other difficult features commonly found on buildings of every type.

Larry Peters, an engineer and CDA regional manager based in Decatur, Georgia, noted, "We're teaching the fundamentals. Some attendees have never done any type of roofing, be it asphalt, tile or metal. Others are professionals who have been doing it for years, but want to refresh their habits and learn the latest techniques."

The course is designed to offer professionals of all experience levels a comprehensive overview of copper installation techniques. It is broken down into five teaching sections, each with an emphasis on hands-on training. The major topic areas include:

  • Soldering, fluxing and preparation of copper
  • Flat lock roofing including flashing and panel installation
  • Installation and forming of double lock standing seams
  • Installation of standing seam panels and flashing
  • Forming, curving and installing curved double lock standing seam panels
  • Batten seam fabrication and installation
  • Introduction to the unsoldered flat seam lock system
  • Installation of flat seam copper wall cladding over typical edge details
  • Design, construction and installation of built-in gutter systems

Matthew Bohn, vice president of Weather Shield Roofing, a local Bedford firm, organized the training session, purchased the raw materials and provided classroom space. One roofing tradesman who came all the way from Ohio, Travis Predmore, told his boss he would pay his own expenses to attend the class because he understood the value in learning to repair and install copper roofs. Another attendee, Mark Lions, was recently laid off from a Connecticut metal-working firm and was looking to enter a new trade. Ken Evans, owner of Odessa Roofing in Lexington, Kentucky, traveled to the New York session with employee Daniel Fitch to receive advanced training from a master professional.

"We have experienced a dramatic increase in customer inquiries regarding maintenance and installation of copper roofs and other decorative accessories," Evans said. "Unfortunately, we've had to decline a majority of this business due to a lack of skilled copper tradesmen within our organization. CDA has done the industry a tremendous service by sponsoring this forum. We have learned new skills to enhance our craftsmanship, increase our profits and offer our customers the best service possible."

Valued for its durability and aesthetic beauty, copper and its alloys, bronze and brass, have been used for exterior and interior architectural applications throughout recorded history. Extremely resistant to corrosion, copper metals continue to be a material of choice for landmark structures. Copper's distinctive appearance can be seen in the skylines of principal cities worldwide.

According to CDA's Larry Peters, "In addition to offering a worry-free lifespan that can last hundreds of years, architectural copper is a sustainable material, mostly made from recycled material. And, copper is practically 100 percent recyclable, an important consideration for today's 'green building' initiatives."

Peters added, "Each day, CDA's regional managers visit contractors at their workshops and worksites. Everywhere, we hear the demand for trained, copper roofing professionals. CDA has listened, and we're proud the response has been overwhelming. Not only do attendees learn valuable new skills, in many cases they also qualify for continuing education credits. Classes are being booked across the country, and we've already received inquiries for 2007 and beyond."

To supplement the training sessions, CDA is developing a copper roofing "Best Practices Guide." Expected to be available before the end of this year, it will feature step-by-step instructions, details and photos of copper roofing techniques. The guide will be available in print format and can also be downloaded free of charge from the CDA website.

For more information on the use of copper in roofing and to receive information about future training sessions, contact the Copper Development Association at