Tag Archive for: Capabilites

Grayslake, Ill., June 20, 2024 — Everyone is intrigued by a do-it-yourself project because you never know how it will turn out. The motivation behind DIY projects is usually, if not always, to save enough money to make the work worthwhile. In this case, the satisfaction of a puzzle solved and a job done well were equally at play.


This project case study is about a Michigan couple that set out to build their own home with as little help as possible. Admittedly, they paid contractors to take care of the tasks they thought better left to professionals, including the HVAC, electrical, plumbing and drywalling. When it came to installing zinc metal panels on the exterior of the home, Dirk and Ann VanZalen of Allegan, Mich., wanted to try it themselves. They loved the aesthetics and the environmentally friendly aspects of zinc and decided it would fit in their budget if Dirk could do the installation himself.


Sheet Metal Supply (SMS) fabricated and supplied the VanZalens with 3,000 square feet of 20-gauge RHEINZINK prePATINA trim and interlocking flat lock tiles, measuring 16 inches by 54 inches – approximately 500 tiles. Even those who have worked with expensive specialty metals like zinc may have found this undertaking a daunting task, particularly with all the angles of the house design.


Before we go any further, we should point out that this is a DIY project with an asterisk. Dirk VanZalen can handle more than his share of tools, having spent his career in the woodworking industry at Benchmark Wood Studio and Sligh Furniture, engineering and building custom cabinetry and office furniture. While searching for videos online featuring zinc fabrication and installation, VanZalen discovered Sheet Metal Supply, a leading national fabricator and supplier of a variety of metals used in construction. He watched several Sheet Metal Supply videos on YouTube about working with various metals, and then he and Ann made the trip around Lake Michigan to visit SMS.


“I know how to work with my hands and I enjoy figuring things out,” VanZalen says. “I really don’t think I could have done this at any other point in my life. It all came together at the right time, with my life experience and my access to equipment and know-how at my place of employment. Our kids are out of the house, so I was free to dedicate the time required to get this done.”


Those who install metal roofing or walls have their own set of specialty tools, large and small. After forming a couple of trim pieces by hand, VanZalen decided a brake would be a good investment.


“I went on Facebook Marketplace and found a used brake not too far from where we live,” he says. “I got there and the guy had it stored in a barn. It was big and heavy and old. He wanted $800 for it.”


VanZalen says after a little negotiating, he drove away with the bulky old brake. It served him well and when it had served its purpose, he sold it for $150 more than he paid for it and even had several other interested buyers.


VanZalen picked up some other necessary tools from Sheet Metal Supply and was ready to go. Getting started by installing trim around windows and doors turned out to be the most challenging part of the project. Once VanZalen started working with the actual tiles, he was comfortable using the brake and interlocking the tiles.

Time is a precious resource in any project. VanZalen says full panels installed quickly, but panels that required any cutting took extra attention. “You’d think with tiles that are 16 inches by 54 inches, it would install quickly,” VanZalen says, “but you’d be surprised how few tiles are actually installed without being cut to fit around a window or door or the soffits.”


The VanZalens also used some zinc indoors, up the 16-foot fireplace wall, and are very pleased with this interior connection to their unique exterior. They credit Sheet Metal Supply with a smart design and precise fabrication of zinc tiles for interior and exterior use that led to a simplified and cleaner installation.


“It’s a Covid project that got a little out of control,” VanZalen chuckles. “The floor plan was completely our own creation, but we absolutely could not have achieved the house’s overall design appeal without sharing an inspiration photo from One Kindesign with our architect friend, David Bareman RA, who provided roof pitch, window arrangement and massing expertise.


“There are some things left for us to do, but we’re getting there and the house is more than livable. Before we started, we cut down 15 oak trees on the build site, dried them and we’ve used the lumber from them for paneled ceiling, stairs and custom veneered interior doors.”


These bring just the right warmth to the interior with its cement floors and exposed steel structure. Dirk’s carpentry and Ann’s finishing skills show up in all trim, cabinetry and certain pieces of furniture.


“This has been a great team effort,” VanZalen says, “It can be challenging getting on the same page when a couple builds a home, but we’re still happily married! Even after tiling four bathrooms together! People are particularly surprised that we put in 150 feet of tongue and groove vinyl sea wall with just the two of us. Ann is a strong woman, a good worker and she has also kept us right on budget, even slightly under.”


Ann VanZalen agrees. “Sheet Metal Supply, specifically (president) Ben Kweton and Lisa England, certainly helped us feel comfortable throughout the process,” she says. “It was a little intimidating at first, but they were very encouraging. When we needed about 40 panels, all just 11 inches long for the window wall facing the lake, they fabricated them at that custom length, which saved Dirk many hours of cutting and refolding. They, like many other contractors we worked with, became great partners in our crazy adventure. We’re so very happy with the way everything turned out. We love our home and take great joy in all the things we were able to do ourselves. Definitely, a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”


The project is one that Sheet Metal Supply is proud of as well.


“It was nice working with the VanZalens, who appreciate the beauty and sustainability of RHEINZINK,” says England, Inside Sales at Sheet Metal Supply. “They were able to put together an outstanding example of a flatlock façade for a residential project. We appreciate the trust they put in Sheet Metal Supply. They were great partners.”


About Sheet Metal Supply

Founded in 1991, Sheet Metal Supply Ltd. is a leading fabricator/supplier of custom-formed perimeter edge systems, wall facades, flat lock tiles, substructural components, ES-1 rated products, architectural zinc, glazed-in panels, standing seam and much more. The company ships internationally and is regarded for its high-quality products and quick turn-around. For more information, visit www.sheetmetalsupplyltd.com.


Fabricator: Sheet Metal Supply LTD, Grayslake, Ill.


Installer: Dirk VanZalen, homeowner


Completed: Spring 2024

Grayslake, Ill., March 28, 2024 — Sheet Metal Supply, a leading fabricator and supplier of a variety of metal construction products, is now stocking 16-gauge and 18-gauge galvanized steel for the fabrication of hat channels, Z-channels and U-channels in Polyvinylidene Fluoride (PVDF) Black.

“We’ve been getting more and more requests for pre-painted components for use as sub-structures under rainscreens and other façades,” says Phoebe McCorkindale, Director of Operations at Sheet Metal Supply. “Black sub-girts provide a shadowing aesthetic that is growing in popularity.

“To stay ahead of this trend, we’re stocking 48-inch-wide pre-painted coil in PVDF Black. With our new machinery, we can custom-fabricate those sub-structure components in custom widths and lengths up to 21 feet.”

Sheet Metal Supply has two in-house bidirectional folders that allow for the fabrication of longer and custom lengths of 16- and 18-gauge stock with shorter lead time to keep projects moving.

For more information, contact Sheet Metal Supply at (847) 478-8500 or visit www.sheetmetalsupplyltd.com.

About Sheet Metal Supply

Founded in 1991, Sheet Metal Supply Ltd. is a leading fabricator/supplier of custom-formed perimeter edge systems, wall facades, flat lock tiles, substructural components, ES-1 rated products, architectural zinc, glazed-in panels, standing seam and much more. The company ships internationally and is regarded for its high-quality products and quick turn-around. For more information, visit www.sheetmetalsupplyltd.com.

Our high capacity 4 X 5 downspout for commercial use removes water from gutters at faster speeds allowing the gutter to be more efficient.  The downspout diverts rainwater away from the building and keeps water from pooling at the foundation. Ask us about local delivery of up to 45 linear feet. Matching A & B elbows, custom offsets, straps, and brackets are available.


  • 30 different 24 gauge Kynar 500®  colors
  • Most common colors in stock
  • .032 Kynar Aluminum
  • 26 gauge Galvalume


  • Steel & Aluminum Substrates with Kynar®500 color finishes
  • G-90 Galvanized & Galvalume Mill Finish
  • Paint Grip
  • Aluminum: Mill Finish or Anodized
  • 12, 16, 20 oz Architectural Grade Copper
  • RHEINZINK Architectural Zinc
  • 300-Series Stainless Steel
  • Freedom Gray
  • Other metal materials are available upon request: the possibilities are endless!

Sheet Metal Supply was founded in 1991 with one very simple goal — to supply the roofing industry with consistent sheet metal profiles fabricated from quality materials with unmatched lead times.

Perimeter Edge Flashing

Perimeter Edge Metal… We started Sheet Metal Supply in 1991 with one market in mind:  made-to-order, customized perimeter edge metal (flashing) for local roofing contractors.  The flashing we fabricate isn’t very showy or exciting.  Nonetheless, it’s one of the most critical parts of a building.  Perimeter edge metal (also known as flashing) protects the edges and corners of a roof.  And. it’s. everywhere.  Every building, big or small, residential or commercial.

On future blog posts, we’ll be exploring the many styles of flashing that we offer here at Sheet Metal Supply (along with highlighting neat projects, products we fabricate, and industry news).  Follow along as we embark on our next 26 years of business.