“A word about zinc” #01: my new thematic series!






Following on the success of the ten episodes in the “Fabulous destiny of Vieille Montagne” series, I am launching a series called “A word about zinc”. This new series is dedicated to terms of the trade that are used every day by zinc roofers and installers in France, and to words that evoke the world of roofing world. Such words are part of a unique, little-known language, made up of images, metaphors, borrowed and invented terms, and which has been enriched through years of experience acquired by these “roof tailors”!

A newly published book

The words I will be inviting you to discover will be partly sourced from a book published in France in November 2017 by 101 Mots - Archibooks + Sautereau éditeur, entitled “Les 101 mots de la Zinguerie à l’usage de tous”*.

Here is the introduction from the book:

“In this constantly changing world, where everyone does a job that is completely different to what they learnt at school, nothing has changed for zinc roofers since 1811, when the first ever zinc roof was installed. The work is still done as it always was, the same tools are used, the same words, handed down from one generation to the next. But let us ve quiet now! We are entering the temple of roof tailoring. The words of the trade evolved on rooftops. An architect filled with a desire to understand, with each successive project, the words sink in, vocabulary is enriched” - François Virolleaud – architect.

This is the testimony of a humble man who listens and learns from the words as they are spoken when the zinc roofer uses them in context, evoking an oral culture. So the obvious thing seemed to be to write “Les 101 mots de la zinguerie”*. Zinc roofing requires a high level of skill, related to an indispensable profession with its own specific universe. In the world of zinc roofing, a strong, poetic, invigorating and sometimes pagan language is spoken

Zinc is also part of our daily life. In French, there are a range of familiar expressions that refer to zinc as it is used in everyday contexts, such as the zinc used on traditional old bar counters or that used in the cockpit of aeroplanes. Zinc is everywhere, even inside us. I thought it would be interesting to revisit these popular words that ring true and are part of the wealth of French language, as zinc is above all part of a beautiful story of France.

Mot #01: “Coin de mouchoir”**

Although in French this term may conjure up an image of the Infante of Spain wiping away a tear with the corner of a handkerchief, in this case it is a method used for covering a roof ridge. This type of fold is one of the great classics of on-site zinc folding. It is one of the basic techniques for zinc roofers. It can be done in various configurations, but most frequently on the top of batten cap sheets, where the zinc is pressed down on the ridge.

First the metal is raised via profiling on the two longitudinal edges of the sheet. A transversal fold is then made at the top of this same sheet to create upstand flashing on the batten cap.

So in the corners, excess metal is worked on without cutting, and therefore without welding, thanks to a fold whose corner is determined using templates/dielines. One of these (template B) measures the corner at the junction of the slope cap and the ridge cap, the other (template A) measures the corner of the side of the slope cap and the vertical. The corner of the pinched seam fold is at the bisection of the corner formed by the 2 templates (see the above diagram taken from the zinc roofers’ handbook). The metal consequently on the outside of the sheet is folded down with flat nose pliers on the back of the upstand flashing. Perfect watertightness is ensured, without any welding required.

An interactive series

Apart from sharing the wonderful semantics of the trade, I would like this new series to be of interest to those primarily concerned: zinc roofers. All your comments on these zinc roofing details are welcome!

Do you regularly work use these techniques regularly in your work? Who did you learn them from? How? Did you develop your own process? Do you have photos or videos of your details?

Tell us about them, we will publish them on our VMZINGUEURS page. 1,600 zinc roofers are already participating in this great community!

See you soon for my next word about zinc: A drink at the (zinc) bar!

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* The Demodulor project was initiated in 2013, as part of an Ademe call for projects focusing on the improvement of construction waste management. The challenge: make it possible to deconstruct buildings.