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Behind the metal mesh: self-build and renovation trends

Our Business Development Manager, Anthony Millington was quizzed by i-Build's Editor Rebecca Kemp on the creative uses of metal mesh in the self-build and home renovation sectors.

Why are self-builders and home renovators opting for metal mesh for their home-building projects? Aside from aesthetics, what are the benefits?

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 is a way of using very modern products with a modern look and feel but still with a  nod back to the past. Meshes are overall very durable and relatively lightweight with good airflow and transparency so now have a huge appeal to the modern home building project.

Aesthetics are an important part of why 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 the building – the openness and durability of these meshes lend them to being used for these applications.

How is metal mesh made and how is it moulded?

There are three main type of mesh that are used in building.

Woven mesh – is as it says; woven.  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 single hit turret or a multi punch tool, this can also be applied to corrugated and other profiled sheets, images and patterns can be created using a variety of hole patterns. Perforated sheets are commonly folded to trays for installing or can be mechanically face fixed to a substructure

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

What metal mesh colour trends are you witnessing and why are these surging in popularity?

Natural stainless steel has always been popular when working with woven meshes, but we are seeing stainless 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 coater 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 also removes any sharp edges that may occur in the production.

Recently we have seen a huge rise in patina finishes bother natural or applied.  The most popular of the natural finishes is weathered steel or Cor Ten which gives a rust patina whilst creating a protective coat to the metal underneath, this however is on suitable externally as it can stain.  With the rise of this external patina, internally it is now seeing a huge uplift, to do this we use specialist  powder coats which not only look but also feel like a patina,  we are seeing anything from a rust finish to oxidised copper, these powder coats also fall well in line with fire regs so 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….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 seeing the meshes being used as cladding and even roofing, especially the corrugated meshes with patina powder coats as this allows the builder to have Velux type windows underneath without them being seen – often something conservation planners require.  Similarly, to the roofing we are seeing used more and more as a very easy way of solar shading both to windows and external dining areas. 

Can it be used indoors? What kind of interior applications are using metal mesh?

Meshes have been used internally for years for things such as radiator grilles and remain popular for that application, but we have seen it being used for many more applications due to the variety of meshes available including the new ways of finishing.  With the popularity of open plan living we are seeing the meshes particularly the woven and expanded being used as partitioning keeping the airflow but also giving a feeling division to areas We are even seeing the finer more delicate meshes being laminated in glass being used as room dividers but also in creating bespoke splashbacks and shower areas. Mesh ceilings are also becoming more popular, this is in keeping with the industrial style builds keeping good airflow and making a feature of the ceiling space - and particularly  with the darker bronze anodise finishes and the patina coats.

You can view the article in i-Build Magazine