Lead flashing has been the go-to roof flashing material for some time. Still, with a move toward safer installation and caring for the environment, non-toxic, lead-free alternatives are becoming increasingly popular.
But why should you opt for lead-free flashing, and what lead-free options are available? Read on to learn more about the lead-free roof flashing materials on the market.
Lead flashing was used effectively for years to seal roof penetrations and prevent rainwater from leaking into homes. While practical and versatile, lead flashing comes with some disadvantages; lead mining can be an extremely destructive practice, and there’s a high risk of poisoning when working with lead flashings. Considering the environmental threat and health risks, the move to lead-free flashing makes sense.
Lead-free flashing provides the same watertight seal but is often much easier to install than lead flashing alternatives. The benefits of using lead-free flashing include:
- UV resistant
- Lightweight design
- Installed in half the time
- DIY installation
- Compatibility with nearly all roof profiles
- No need for specialist tools for roof applications
- Safe rainwater harvesting for drinking water
- Suitable for painting to match roof tiles
While there are general advantages of using lead-free flashing, individual lead-free options have their own benefits and selling points.
Popular Lead-Free Flashing Options
Let’s look at some leading lead-free roofing materials and why they are in line to replace lead.
Wakaflex is a premium lead-free roof flashing solution comprising Polyisobutylene and an aluminium mesh layer that strengthens and stops lifting. It is Australia’s number one lead-free roof flashing option and has sold more than 6m rolls worldwide. Wakaflex is flexible, lightweight, and highly durable, with a ten-year warranty. Suitable for almost any roof surface, including metal roofs, tiles, and polycarbonate.
Wakaflex’s butyl backing is self-adhesive, with its unique ability to chemically fuse when two rolls overlap ensuring a watertight seal no matter what material you apply it to. It is suitable for standard flashing applications like wall abutments, chimneys and Dutch gables. One of its main benefits compared with lead-based flashings is that it can also be applied where lead cannot, for example, around box gutters and on verandas. Wakaflex takes half the time that lead flashing takes to install because you can apply it easily in 5m roll lengths with no specialist tools, saving time and money on labour costs.
Smartform is a lead-free flashing solution with a unique design, comprising an aluminium top sheet that allows it to stretch up to 60% along its length. This stretch means that you can apply Smartform to even the most extreme roof profiles and get a secure, watertight seal to the roof surface. Smartform’s butyl-based adhesive backing ensures no water can seep through and leak into the roof space, while its lightweight design allows for easy installation.
Smartform has multiple uses and is suitable for metal, polycarbonate and tiled roof surfaces, meaning it is also ideal for additions like verandah roofs and carports. It is excellent for retrospective flashing and general roof maintenance and is another flashing option requiring no specialist tools or additional silicone, meaning quick, money-saving installation. Its incredible versatility means that you can apply Smartfotm around 360° roof penetrations like pipes and vents. Because there are no compatibility problems, Smartform is also ideal for lining box gutters and repairing PVC or metal roofing components.
Dakaflash is an adhesive lead-free flashing solution, comprising Wakaflex’s reinforced aluminium mesh layer for rigidity and support and Smartform’s creped aluminium top sheet. Though it can’t stretch quite as far as Smartform because of its mesh layer, Dakaflash can stretch to an impressive 30% in length, making it easy to install around corners and curvatures. Like Wakaflex and Smartform, Dakaflash has a butyl adhesive backing, providing a seamless, secure, watertight seal.
Whether for a new build or general maintenance, Dakaflash is an ideal lead-free flashing solution. Dakaflash is suitable for almost every traditional flashing application and is perfect for extreme profiles like verandas and patios.
Fastfix is an economy flashing roll consisting of an aluminium top sheet with an adhesive butyl backing. Fastfix is the perfect solution for everyday flashing and waterproof maintenance repairs.
Lead-Free Over Lead
Versatility and saving potential due to lack of labour costs are two of the most significant selling points of lead-free flashings like Wakaflex, Smartform, Dakaflash and Fast Flash. They are on the way to replacing lead-based roof flashing for safer, quicker and more environmentally friendly installation. All can be used alone for secure waterproof sealing, or try using butyl tape alongside Wakaflex for peace of mind with more complex fittings.