Colorbond steel roofing and walling is a firm favourite today for new homes or renovation and re-roofing projects – and it has an interesting history. Way back in 1843 a bright spark in England realised that making corrugations in a thin sheet of steel strengthened it considerably. Corrugated iron, as it was called in those days, made an ideal building material because it was so light and could stack easily for transportation. It didn’t even need to be painted, although many people did paint it just to enhance its looks.
Within a decade of its invention it was brought to Australia by John Lysaght where it quickly became the most popular building material around. It was affordable, durable, quick and easy to erect and could even be transported on camels. Many buildings were made totally from corrugated iron for these reasons. Some were painted but most were not; why spend money on paint when it was not necessary?
It took a whole century before a way was found to bond paint to the galvanised iron. Two companies in America worked together on this aspect; Lithostrip Corporation in Chicago and Pre Finish Metals. It was once again John Lysaght that brought the technology to Australia. He and others invested a great deal of time and effort, not to mention finances, into getting the product just right for Australian conditions. They had to build a factory to work in and this was located in Port Kembla, Wollongong. It was 1966 when the first roll of coloured steel came off the painting line and became the talk of the industry.
There are now more paint lines in Port Kembla and also some in other states. Western Port in Victoria, Acacia Ridge in Queensland and Erskine Park in Sydney now have painting lines for the production of Colorbond steel. The factory in Sydney is the most recent development and cost $150 million to build. It produces 120,000 tonnes of Colorbond steel per year. This alone is enough to roof 80,000 homes so you can see just how many homes are getting the kind of roofs people love.
In the early days, there was not the colour range that is available today, with only six colours. Today there are 22, with six of these being relatively new, ensuring that everyone can choose a colour they are happy with. It is possible that even more will be available into the future. But even if that doesn’t happen there are enough colours now to please most people.
Statistics show that almost half the new homes built in Australia today have roofs of Colorbond steel. Many others use it for different projects such as feature walls, water tanks, fencing, sheds car ports and many other things. In the country, many large equipment and stock sheds are made from Colorbond.