BMI AeroDek tiles on the button at Sutton

  • 11 Aug 2020

Swift to install and vandal resistant, the BMI AeroDek lightweight metal roofing tiles enabled contractors to replace the failing roof at St Helen’s Sutton Academy with minimum disruption.

The work ensured the roof would be brought up to 21st century standards, while maintaining its modernistic appearance.

Covered against failure to provide a weatherproof roof with BMI’s 40-year insurance-backed  product guarantee, the 5200 squared metre roof is the first phase of the re-roofing project, yet it is a case of ‘spot the join’ as the coated zinc aluminium galvanised steel tile panels closely match the existing concrete tiles.

Stuart Jenness, of surveyors Lancaster Maloney, who commissioned the roof, commented: “It’s a good all-round package for the school: a well-known product backed by a strong guarantee.” 

Catering to 1,200 pupils, the school gained academy status in 2010 and then qualified for aid from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to replace the original roof which had been failing and was allowing rainwater into the classrooms below.

The academy commissioned Stockport-based Lancaster Maloney to draw up the school’s Capital Funding Application to replace the original roofs in BMI AeroDek Robust Plus.

Stuart, the associate in charge, had to find a product that met a number of challenges: to find a tile suitable for a very low pitch of just 14 degrees, that would match the existing tiles – as the roof could only be refurbished in phases; and one that would easily accommodate the complexities of the many hips, valleys and vertical elements.


Stuart added: “There were a lot of positives to specifying BMI AeroDek tiles, particularly speed. Leaking roofs disrupt schools and can interfere with them delivering the curriculum.

“Refurbishment and maintenance programs can impact on the children’s timetables and learning and that can even have implications in terms of Ofsted inspections, so it’s important to deal with the issue as quickly as possible and avoid disruption as much as possible.

“These tiles look like the existing roof so there was no need for any planning permission, and they’re designed for low pitched roofs, the existing concrete tiles were not performing adequately at the low pitch and had stopped protecting the roof.

“BMI AeroDek tiles are very fast to install, so classrooms were back in use quickly and the time that the building was exposed to elements was cut to an absolute minimum.”

Matching existing roof coverings is one of the strengths of the BMI AeroDek range of tiles, as all the tiles have a stone granular finish that is ceramically colour glazed with coloured silicates which give the tiles exceptional colour stability.

The granular surface is designed to diffuse light in the same way as products made from naturally occurring materials. In the case of Sutton Academy, the Pepperstone colour was used, but Anthracite is also available to mimic the aesthetic appearance of slate.

The strength of the BMI AeroDek tile was also a consideration, as the school is composed of one and two-storey buildings,

Stuart added: “The metal tiles are far more resistant to accidental damage, such as the odd football going on the roof. Meaning we have less risk of broken pieces of the roof falling into the playground.”

Technical support throughout the project and beyond was also an important element, as he explained. “I’m scrupulous about detailing, because that’s where the weak spots are and the technical backup from BMI was very good and responsive in this respect.

“BMI technical staff inspected the roofing works regularly and helped everyone involved to complete the project with as little impact upon the occupants as possible.”


BMI AeroDek tiles can be installed on roofs of any pitch, from as low as 10 degrees to vertical and they weigh a fraction – just one-seventh of an equivalent concrete tile.  

They are also faster to lay as they are produced in tile strips, so they require fewer fixings. The speed of installation can lead to real savings on labour rates, as it takes significantly fewer man hours to install BMI AeroDek.

The speed and ease of handling impressed David O’Dowd, Director for Helix Roofing: “This is the first time we’ve used this product and it’s been a complete success. It’s very quick and easy to install and, because it’s pliable, it works well on details which can be formed as you go,” he says.

“It’s very user-friendly – and very robust. It gives the end-user the assurance that if required it can withstand foot traffic. The tiles may dent but they will not break, so if anyone goes upon the roof that shouldn’t be there, the building user has peace of mind that any damage will only be cosmetic, and the waterproofing will be maintained.”

David also appreciated the technical support provided through BMI’s regular visits to check workmanship and advise upon any issues that cropped up.

Each tile strip is contoured to both overlap and interlock strongly, so top and bottom fixing occurs naturally with every BMI AeroDek profile.

This means that BMI AeroDek roofs will withstand the harshest of weather, even severe winds that are prevalent, for example, in the Shetland Isles.  

Also ideal for use with flat to pitch roof conversions, lightweight BMI AeroDek tile strips are totally dry fixed throughout and complemented by an extensive range of lightweight roofing accessories including eaves, ridge and tile ventilation systems.

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