Avoiding Metal Theft from Roofs with alternatives to Copper and Lead

Worcester Park Surrey - Lead or Membrane?

Worcester Park Surrey – Lead or Membrane?

We all love lead and copper roofs. The materials are so tactile, and the roofs look so beautiful. We also appreciate the historic importance of lead and copper roofs to our architectural heritage.

But sometimes it just isn’t possible or practicable to use lead or copper. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we have to find an alternative.

Due to the rapid industrialisation of India and China, prices for scrap metal began to rise significantly in the UK and elsewhere from 2006. Theft of metal for its scrap value is an increasing problem.

With the price of copper and lead heading through the roof it was only a matter of time before metal theft was going to start impacting on building owners again. Thieves steal copper from heating systems in vacant buildings, but they also target lead and copper roofs and flashings. Particularly vulnerable are empty or frequently vacant buildings, including churches, schools and crematoria.

One solution to metal theft from your roof is to increase security, but this can be prohibitively expensive. An alternative is to replace the lead and copper with different materials, both on existing buildings, and when designing new buildings where a similar appearance to metal roofing is required but the cost or risk of theft is too great.


This is Guildford Crematorium in Surrey, which has a beautiful copper roof. Unfortunately the visitor area and walkway became the target for metal thieves last year, and the borough architect approved the use of Rhepanol fk single ply roofing membrane with standing seams as a replacement.

A cost effective alternative to metal theft from buildings

Single ply membrane is a good alternative to copper or lead roofing because:

  1. Single ply membrane is made of polymers (in the case of Rhepanol fk, PIR) which have no scrap value;
  2. The membrane has a very similar aesthetic to lead;
  3. The aesthetic can be enhanced with standing seam profiles and rolls;
  4. Rhepanol can also be coloured using FDT’s specialised decorative paint, to give a shiny copper or verdigris finish;
  5. As well as being much less liable to theft, a single ply roof is considerably cheaper to build than one in lead or copper.

A copper painted Rhepanol fk replacement roof finish was installed over the walkways and visitor area at Guildford Crematorium.

Applied in two coats, the copper paint does not crack or peel and comes with the same life expectancy as the Rhepanol fk membrane. Made with real flakes of copper suspended in the same PIB used to make the membrane, as the liquid evaporates, a coating of copper is left behind which will gradually weather to a beautiful verdigris finish.

The borough architect was very happy with the replacement material, and has passed an order to have all the remaining roof area covered in the same way.

The reroofing work was carried out by Brayer Group plc, who undertake maintenance work for Guildford Council.

Next time you really want a lead or copper roof but can’t have them, maybe single ply might be a suitable alternative.

More information

standingSeam-single-ply-roofs-300x210Read more about standing seam profiles for Rhepanol fk Single Ply Membrane

View case studies using Rhepanol fk Standing Seam Profiles

See examples of our single ply product guarantees.

Download the case study for Moonraker House in Poole with its curving copper coloured single ply roof.

Visit our Downloads page to access data sheets on Rhepanol fk and Standing Seam products.

Image of Guildford Crematorium by Bilbo (Creative Commons License)