When getting your roof repaired or replaced, you may hear the contractor talking about the flashing. Although most homeowners know about the exact roofing material on their roof, be it shingles or metal, many do not know about flashing. Flashing is incredibly important and, in this article, we are going to look at everything you need to know about flashing.
What is Flashing?
Roof flashing is thin metal sheeting that is installed on various parts of your roof to direct water away from areas that are vulnerable to water and moisture. Because of how destructive moisture and water can be on the roof and its various parts, flashing is a critical component of your roof.
The real purpose of installing roof flashing is to ensure water does not get under the shingles or other roofing material. Flashing is also very important for places where the roof meets the wall (the front and sidewalls), where two roof slopes meet (known as valleys), where there are roof protrusions (chimneys, skylights, etc.) as well as the eaves and rakes at the end of the roof.
What is Flashing Made of?
Because flashing is meant to be in contact with water all the time, it has to be made of materials that do not rust and that are less susceptible to water damage. The most common metals used in roof flashing include galvanized steel, stainless steel, copper and aluminum.
Types of Roof Flashing
There are various types of roof flashing, the first one being step and base flashing. Step and base flashing is installed where a vertical wall comes into contact with a sloping roof. The wall can direct water into the roof structure where heavy rain is accompanied by strong winds. Roof flashing is installed here to prevent that by stopping water from getting between the wall and the roofing material. In many ways, step and side flashing works as a gutter for your roof deck.
Step and base flashing uses two pieces of flashing. Because of this, one piece of the flashing moves as the roof contracts and expands, ensuring that the roof is protected no matter the conditions. It is important to note that although they are usually used together, base flashing can be installed on its own if a contractor knows how to do it properly.
Continuous flashing uses a single piece of metal which carries water away from the shingles underneath them. Continuous flashing does not expand, contract or flex as conditions change and so contractors can install expansion joints to prevent damage.
The next type of flashing is valley flashing. This is flashing installed where two sloping roof decks meet each other. When it rains, water flows from both sides of the roof into the flashing the same way water flows in a valley between two mountains. When installed correctly, valley flashing can help protect valleys which are a prime target for water penetration and damage.
Then we have the skylight and chimney flashing. Homeowners can buy skylight and chimney flashing although many of these fixtures come with flashing already. If yours does not, the contractor can create and install flashing for you.
Last of all, we have drip edges which are installed at the edge of the roof. Drip edge flashing helps drain water away from the roof without the water causing any damage.
Things to Know About Roof Flashing
The first thing you need to know about flashing is that it can protect your home. Installing flashing anywhere the roofing material meets a wall or anything else, such as a chimney, prevents water from getting into the home. This helps prevent water damage and protects your investment. As long as flashing is installed correctly, the flashing material, the home and the roof can all have an extended life span.
Second, a contractor might not replace roof flashing in case of a roof replacement. Contractors will inspect the roof and your flashing to determine whether they should replace it. The two things they will be checking are if there are any signs of rust and damage, and whether the flashing is still strong. If the metal has not rusted and the flashing is still intact, then your contractor will probably not recommend that it be replaced. Do note that the contractor will probably change the flashing if you are switching from one type of roofing material to another.
Lastly, you need to inspect the roof flashing annually. This is especially true in homes that have had the roofs replaced without the flashing being replaced. In these cases, the flashing is older than the roof and might be damaged while the rest of the roof looks okay.
Flashing can help protect your home from damage. Because of how important it is, call a qualified contractor to install it and ensure you check it as part of your annual roof inspection to ensure it is still holding up.