15 Jun 2020

Behind the Metal Mesh: Self-build and Renovation Trends

Anthony Millington, Business Development Manager at Amron Architectural, is certainly no stranger to the trends taking place in the self-build and home renovation sectors and has witnessed the most creative uses of metal mesh for home-building projects. Here, i-Build’s Editor, Rebecca Kemp, quizzes Anthony on the use of this increasingly popular material that’s working its way up self-build and home renovator’s wish lists.

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Why are self-builders and home renovators opting for metal mesh for their home-building projects?
Meshes have always been used historically for things like radiator covers as they allow good airflow whilst being incredibly durable. These types of meshes are having a resurgence as it’s a way of using very modern products, with a modern look and feel, yet still nod back to the past. Overall, meshes are extremely durable and relatively lightweight with good airflow and transparency, and; therefore, now have a huge appeal to the modern home-building sector.

Aesthetics are an important reason that people are using meshes in home projects as more people go for the “industrial without actually being industrial” look. It has meant that we can now be more creative in the way we use them. From partitions in open-plan areas to staircases fully made of mesh, and large trellising up the side of a building, the openness and durability of these meshes lend them to being used for a variety of applications.

How is metal mesh made?
There are three main types of mesh that are used in building:

Woven mesh – is as it says; woven. It’s made on large looms – like any fabric – and has a warp and weft; again like fabric. These meshes are usually fixed into frames ready for fitting.

Perforated mesh – is made using a punch – either with a single-hit turret or a multi-punch tool. This can also be applied to corrugated and other profiled sheets. What’s more, images and patterns can also be created using a variety of hole patterns. Perforated sheets are commonly folded to trays for installation or can be mechanically face-fixed to a substructure.

Expanded mesh – is a slit metal made with a press tool that acts like teeth. As it cuts into the mesh, it pushes the metal apart, resulting in expansion. Like woven meshes, expanded mesh is often framed ready for fitting or can be face-fixed to brackets.

What metal mesh colourtrends are you witnessing?
Natural stainless steel has always been popular when working with woven meshes. Still, we are seeing stainless steel being used with other metals such as copper and brass, which gives more texture to the mesh and hints back to classic woven meshes that were often woven with yellow metals.

We work with powder coating specialists, Powdertech Corby, who offer powder coatings to all the standard RAL colours, which are popular with the expanded and perforated meshes. Not only does it protect the metal underneath, but it also removes any sharp edges that may occur during production.

Recently, we have seen a considerable rise in patina finishes – both natural or applied. The most popular of the natural finishes is weathered steel or ‘Cor-ten’, which gives a rust patina while creating a protective coat to the metal underneath. This; however, is only suitable externally as it can stain. With the rise of this external patina, it is now also seeing a huge uplift in interior spaces. To do this, we use specialist powder coats which not only look but also feel like a patina. We can see anything from a rust finish to oxidised copper. These powder coats also fall well in line with Fire Regulations; therefore, are popular with designers.

With regards to exterior placement, how are the self-build and home renovation community using metal mesh?
Most commonly, we think of metal mesh externally as either chicken wire, fencing or something that goes on your BBQ; however, things have moved on. Now we are seeing it being used as decorative trellising up the sides of buildings where the mesh is as much a feature as the planting itself. With the rise in popularity of barn conversions and barn-style builds, we are also seeing the meshes being used as cladding and even roofing. This is especially popular with the corrugated meshes with patina powder coats as this allows builders to have VELUX-type windows underneath without them being seen. This is often something conservation planners require. Similarly, we also see metal mesh used more and more on roofing as it provides an easy method of solar shading for both windows and external dining areas.

Can metal mesh be used indoors?
As mentioned previously, meshes have been used internally for years for things such as radiator grilles and do remain popular for such applications. However, we have seen the material being used for many more applications due to the variety of meshes available – including brand-new ways of finishing. With the popularity of open-plan living, we often see the meshes – mainly the woven and expanded – being used as partitioning to keep airflow yet also offer a feeling of separation to areas. We are even seeing the finer, more delicate meshes being laminated in glass and used as room dividers and also in bespoke splashbacks and shower areas. Mesh ceilings are also becoming more popular; this is in keeping with the industrial-style builds. Here, they retain good airflow and make a feature of ceiling space. This trend is particularly popular with the darker bronze anodised finishes and patina coats.

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