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Hillcrest Apartments

Custom-Bilt Metals

When passersby look up at Wichita’s Hillcrest Apartments these days, many notice how the historic building’s steep tile roof has been restored to a rich, clean and stately grandeur. What most don’t notice, however, is that the old, deteriorating red clay terra cotta tiles have actually been replaced with durable metal tiles that will withstand decades of exposure without losing their aesthetic appeal – or their resistance to the harsh Kansas weather.

The new roofing system on the elegant old 10-story building is composed of Armor™ Tile stone-coated metal panels, manufactured Custom-Bilt Metals, a long-time leader in the painted metal industry.

Viewed from ground level, the new roof matches – or even surpasses – the original stone tiles’ patina and character. But unlike the old roof, which had deteriorated badly since the building was erected back in 1927, the Armor Tile roof will offer superior durability and weatherability – a key factor in the owners’ selection of the Armor Tile system.

“Armor Tile metal shingles offer all the beauty and aesthetic appeal of tile, slate and other traditional roofing materials, but they also offer a number of important advantages,” said Custom-Bilt Metals President Tony Chiovare.

For example, he noted, the Armor Tile roofing system is dramatically lighter in weight, and will never crack, chip or break like terra cotta tiles.

“Armor Tile stone coated products weigh only 1.32 pounds per square foot, which greatly reduces the need for reinforced roof structures and underlayment,” he noted.

Armor Tile panels are formed from 26-gauge Galvalume steel alloy panels, which are then coated with a specially formulated ceramic stone surface that is baked onto the substrate. The 15-inch by 45-inch panels overlap to form a seamless pattern that also provides superior resistance to wind uplift when compared to old-fashioned clay or terra cotta tiles.

The roof is also Class “A” fire rated, and provides excellent resistance to rain, hail and snow, as well as prolonged exposure to solar radiation, all of which were critical factors in the Hillcrest owners’ decision, Chiovare said.

Altogether, 20,000 square feet of Armor Tile roofing in Custom-Bilt’s deep red “Cypress” color was installed by M&N Watertite Metal Roofing of Hutchinson, Kansas, an authorized Custom-Bilt dealer. In addition to the challenge of working 10 stories above ground level, M&N crews also coped successfully with a very steep pitch.

While challenging to his company’s crews, the high, steep-pitched roof provides much of the historic old brick building’s character, according to Mike Oden of M&N. In addition, the steep pitch helps draw attention to the beauty of the tile roof, which is accentuated by dark exposed beams reminiscent of Tudor style architecture.

“The new roof closely resembles the original roof – and many say it looks even better on the Tudor-style building,” Oden said.

M&N’s crews worked through the spring and summer of 2006 to complete the challenging job, finishing in September 2006. Chiovare noted, however, that because of the durability of the Armor Tile system, it is very likely that this difficult task will never need to be repeated.

“Armor Tile is one of our LAST-TIME® brand roofing products,” he said. “For most applications, that means the building owners can purchase this system with the knowledge that it is literally the last roofing system they will need to install.”

About Custom-Bilt Metals

Custom Bilt Last Time logoCustom-Bilt Metals offers metal roofing systems. For more information, visit

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