Magnificent Metal Monday – Cuba’s Corrugated Metal

corrugated metal

If you have ever traveled to the Caribbean, especially to some of the more impoverished islands, it is common to see homes resembling “sheds” versus sturdier structures. It’s not often I get “personal,” but having just returned from Cuba, I thought I would take a deeper “dive” into the history of corrugated iron, given its prevalence in island construction.

While most of my time was spent exploring Cuba’s underwater life, I got a glimpse of “life on land” while traveling from Camaguey to the port village of Jucaro (about a 3 hour drive). Mostly a rural area, it was easy to see the wide use of corrugated metal for the roofs and sometimes the siding.

It is easy to think of corrugated iron as an “ugly, tawdry substitute for proper building materials,” but believe it or not, this “maligned material” has a surprising and far reaching history. According to World Archaeology, the story of corrugated iron begins with “Henry Palmer of the London Dock Company who, in 1829, took out a patent for ‘indented or corrugated metallic sheets’.” When Walker’s patent ran out in 1843, competition flooded in and corrugated iron became a world-wide industrial material.

By the 1880s, manufacturers like Francis Morton and Co of Liverpool concentrated on the South and Central American market, supplying workers’ barracks and hospitals to the mining communities of Uruguay, Mexico and Peru and hurricane-proof buildings (they claimed) to the Caribbean (Source: World Archaeology).

Nearly 150 years later, metal sheeting is still prevalent as an widely used material for the following reasons: it is easily transported, lightweight, it can be erected by the unskilled, it can resist fire, helps to insulate a home, it is cost effective and can be sold when it has served its purpose.

A brief photo tour of my “land time” in Cuba –

Ignacio Agramonte Airport

Photo Credit: Tara O.

Photo Credit: Tara O.

Photo Credit: Tara O.

Photo Credit: Tara O.

Photo Credit: Tara O.


More Posts from the METALCON blog:

MRA President Talks Construction with HGTV Star Rico León

Join HGTV Star Rico León at METALCON: A Must-See Discussion on Improving Construction! Hear how Rico and our own industry “star,” Todd Miller, President of Metal Roofing Alliance and Isaiah Industries, talked about how to improve the construction process earlier this year and what to look forward to in his Keynote Address next month.

METALCON Gives Back to the Local Community 

METALCON has partnered with the Semper Fi & America’s Fund (The Fund), a non-profit organization dedicated to helping veterans in all branches of the military. The program was created to direct urgently needed resources and financial support to critically wounded, ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces alongside their families.  

Metal Industry Trades Gather at METALCON

METALCON, the only global event dedicated to the application of metal in design and construction, offers an EXCLUSIVE MEET THE PRESS event to its exhibitors at next month’s event. Exhibitors can schedule a one-on-one appointment with an editor or reporter from over ten leading industry trade publications while at the show.

DuPont™ Tedlar® Featured Nationally on “Inside the Blueprint”

#MagnificentMetalMonday celebrates 60 years of innovation with one of its exhibitors, DuPont™ Tedlar®. Featured this past weekend on “Inside the Blueprint,” the episode covering “Innovations in Surface Protection” aired nationally on hundreds of local channels and across digital/social platforms.