Lead sand casting
At West Country Tiling we manufacture our own lead for use on most of our restoration projects. This allows us to produce superior lead with good flexibility. One of the most impressive of these projects was Tyntesfield House, a National Trust property in North Somerset.
The history of lead
Lead has been used in the building trade for 1000’s of years. The use of lead sheets dates back to Roman times, when lead was used to line aqueducts, as it’s waterproof and doesn’t corrode. During the Norman period lead manufacturing for church and cathedral roofs proved it was a durable and flexible material.
As lead never expires, it’s an ecologically sound material. When the team are refurbishing lead guttering, we re-use the existing lead by stripping it off, melting it down and re-casting new sheets before putting it back onto church guttering and roof lining.
Modern production using traditional methods
There are two ways to produce sheets of lead; the more common way is milled or rolled lead sheets and the more traditional method is sand casting. The manufacturing of lead using sand casting resurfaced about 140 years ago. It’s a highly specialised and labour-intensive production method, however it is far superior then milled lead. The main reason we use sand cast lead is because it produces superior sheets of lead that resists under lead corrosion more than milled lead. For this reason, we developed our own partially automated 7-metre-long lead sand-casting table. This method involves floating molten lead on a bed of sand, as it cools the lead crystallises and the screeding removes any excess liquid. This method allows us to accurately control the thickness of our lead sheets to within 1 mm.
This video shows our lead casting table in action:
For more examples of projects that incorporated our high-quality sand-cast lead visit our gallery.