the epidemic of lead theft

Posted by on Jun 13, 2013 in Building Surveying

the epidemic of lead theft

There has been an epidemic of lead theft over the past year or two.  It is generally supposed that the price of lead has soared and it is true to say that the trend since about 2006 has been upwards although it has also been quite volatile.  However the underlying fact is that incomes are depressed and people are feeling the pinch particularly in the construction industry.  Lead is an easy target and who ever gives a thought to workmen who appear to be working on a roof?

Even if insurers continue to cover this risk, there will be a price to pay.

What is to be done?  With years of experience working with roofs, we suggest the following strategies:

1)      Apply a traceable coating to leadwork such as Smartwater or SelectaDNA grease – this makes it less valuable to the thief and increases their chances of being caught

Iko Group's Pitched Roof Lead-free Flashing

2)      Use a less valuable alternative to lead such as zinc or single ply membrane, a lead coloured liquid applied roof coating or felt. For flashings, try a product such as Ikoflash which claims to be “modified polyethylene compound with an integral aluminium mesh reinforcement, enabling the product to be worked and formed in the same way as lead”.   However it should be stressed that we know of no material that matches the all-round usefulness and durability of lead in many aspects of building construction.

3)      Paint leadwork to make it look as if it is a cheaper material than lead:  black gloss paint may do the job


David Gibbon, RICS Conservation Accredited Building Surveyor