The History of Colorbond Steel

Colorbond steel is one of the titans of the Australian construction industry. It’s impossible to imagine construction without Colorbond’s unique combination of durability and aesthetic appeal, so, we thought it was time to celebrate this true Aussie champion by telling you its story.

Colorbond steel has its beginnings in Industrial Era England. In 1843 the key to a strong but lightweight material was discovered – the corrugation of iron. The corrugated shed is now an emblem of the Aussie backyard and we owe this to an Irishman called John Lysaght who introduced corrugated iron to Australia. The Lysaght name would eventually become synonymous with quality steel products.

The use of corrugated iron quickly spread throughout the colonies. Its lightweight nature meant it could be carried over long distances and its resilience meant it could stand up under the tough, Aussie climate.

For all its advantages, there was one problem. It required a lot of paintwork to maintain its appearance. By the 1950’s, a company in Chicago was working on this problem. Lithostrip Corporation and Pre Finish Metals discovered a way to bond paint to a galvanised base.

In the 1960’s, due to the discovery of this method, the Lysaght’s began the creation of Colorbond. In 1966, the first coil of Colorbond rolled out of Port Kembla, Wollongong.

A second revolutionary discovery was made in 1976 by Zincalume steel. The company found that by adding a zinc/aluminum coating the product would last even longer, only adding to the legendary reliability of Colorbond steel. This first coil would change the face of the Australian construction industry forever. For the first time, builders and architects were presented with a product that served all their needs at once. It was light, it was durable and it provided long-lasting aesthetic appeal.

colorbond roofing melbourne
Photo via Colorbond.

Since that first coil, six million tones of Colorbond steel have been fabricated and shipped not only around Australia, but also throughout the world. Colorbond quickly outgrew its home in Port Kembla and production lines have since been set up in Westernport, Victoria and Acacia Ridge in Queensland. Sydney’s Erskine Park is the latest member of the Colorbond family. Opened in 2007, the A$150 million dollar facility in Erskine Park produces 120,000 tonnes of Colorbond steel per year—enough for 80,000 Colorbond roofs.

It’s no surprise that, today, Colorbond steel provides roofing for nearly half of all new Australian homes and that 9 out of 10 new homes use products made from Colorbond steel. In 1966, Colorbond was available in six colours, today it’s available in twenty, making it perfect for any colour scheme, from country to city and classic to contemporary. To top it all off it’s also the perfect insulator, both for winter and summer. And all this is the result of an Irishman bringing a sheet of corrugated iron from England all those years ago.

For more information about the advantages that Colorbond roofing has to offer, contact the team at ACR Roofing today!

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