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Zinc is used a lot in building, mainly for:
Zinc moss killers are roof strips used as flashings which also have a decorative function.
Zinc is a high quality product which has a very long life, with low or no maintenance, low weight, and easy working. Rolled zinc is the type used for roofing and buildings.
It has long been popular in Europe, and many of the old roofs are still in use 150 years later, as zinc was first used for roofing in the 19th century. It is common in churches, cathedrals and government buildings, which are built to last.
Zinc can be seen as a green material as it lasts so long. Asphalt roofing is short lived and needs replacing every 15-20 years, ending up in a landfill.
However the production of zinc produces large amounts of heavy metals in the water table, and zinc pollution affects fish's ability to hold oxygen, thus affecting or even killing off rivers.
The zinc patina or surface layer renews itself as it ages, and also repairs any marks or scratches. So the zinc roof is maintenance free, and looks better with age, a bit like copper. The bare metal does not need to be treated or varnished at all.
Again like copper, the metal roof might last longer than the building, since these are demolished for logistical reasons rather than through collapse. The the zinc can be easily recycled.
The name zinc is from the German Zinke which means a prong, which is what zinc looked like in the furnace (zinc was not names before the mid 1600s unlike other metals).
Zinc is less energy intensive than other metals used in building. To refine from ore, zinc:
Galvanized zinc (zinc plating, electrostatic coating process) is used for: