Icopal’s decra tile meets complex design requirements for Liverpool church

Saint Columba United Reformed Church has a large, steep pitched roof, which falls to outlets that are within a metre of the ground, making it an easy target for vandals. As a result the roof required almost constant maintenance and it was decided a more robust solution was needed. After glowing reviews from a nearby church that had previously used Decra, Icopal was specified.

Built in 1964, the church’s unusual roof with its triangular nature was designed to represent the Holy Trinity. Although aesthetically this is striking and a great conversation starter, for the refurbishment works this created a few challenges. However, architect Mark Skelly of Owen Ellis, Andy Bonner of MAC Roofing and Reverend Alan Crump worked with Paul Seel at Icopal to overcome these obstacles.

The existing roof also didn’t have any insulation in the rafters, making the building very cold. Refurbishing the roof gave the church a chance to improve the thermal comfort of its congregation as well as the overall energy efficiency of the building.

The roof is set at approximately 65 degrees and made up of numerous inverted pyramid shapes that narrowed to the metre high outlets, meaning the scaffolding had to be meticulously planned. Together the team devised a plan to construct the scaffold in such a manner that it could be rested on the roof. This was five storeys high on both elevations when finished and enabled MAC Roofing to start at the top ridge line down to the top working platform. After this, a level was removed while the opposite elevation could be addressed. This process continued down to ground level and revealed the completed roof as each level of scaffold was removed. 

As well as the unusual triangular shapes that form the roof, the curved rises to the eaves created an additional challenge, which was overcome by using Decra’s flexible tiles.

Andy Bonner of MAC Roofing commented,

“Unlike slate, the Decra tiles are flexible. The system is dry fixed and contoured to provide an interlocking roof covering, which allowed us to install from the top and work down to the eaves as we weren’t restricted by the traditional method of overlaying tiles and pinning them in place. Being able to install the product in this way made the whole project a pleasure to manage.

“We have also worked with Decra for many years and are therefore familiar with the product and the necessary cutting, bending and fixing techniques. Knowing the product so well meant we could ensure everything ran in symmetry and the finish was of a high quality.”

Decra tiles are formed from galvanised steel and are offered in a range of colours and finishes to create the effect of traditional roofing tiles. However, unlike traditional materials, Decra is totally dry fixed and has a lightweight design, which allows for speed and ease of install. It is also waterproof, windproof and resistant to moss growth.

Joined by the architect Mark Skelly, Paul Seel at Icopal demonstrated a dedication to customer service and attention to detail through several site meetings. Here they discussed assessment findings and made suggestions to an enthused Reverend Alan Crump. This open and friendly relationship ensured the project was done with consideration for the church and Alan’s congregation.

Alan said,

“The Church was very pleased with the collaborative approach between Owen Ellis Architects and Icopal. We worked together to ascertain if the Decra tiles would be possible for our unique roof. We then appointed MAC Roofing to carry out the installation and it simply completed a great team. Together we achieved the wonderful finished roof we have today.”

Mark Skelly of Owen Ellis Architects added,

“Working on a roof like this was a unique opportunity because there are only five others designed in this style of architecture in the UK. The resistance and robustness of the Decra tiles was perfect for the location given the proximity of the roof to the public realm and the fixing method and ability to slightly bend the tiles allowed us to recreate the slight curve of the roof at the gable ends, which is a subtle but important design feature.”

When completed, Reverend Alan invited Paul Seel, Mark Skelly an Andy Bonner to a Sunday service, where the stunning new roof was dedicated and celebrated by the congregation and all parties involved were complimented for their efforts.