Roof flashing is fundamental to maintaining a home’s infrastructure – especially in Australia, where adverse weather is common. Without it, your property could face regular leaks, structural issues, and a build-up of mould and mildew.
Choosing the best roof flashing material depends on your home and your environment. Choices range from galvanized steel, copper, and rubber, and it’s essential to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each before making any big decisions.
In this article, we’ll cover the best materials to use when installing roof flashing, including:
We’ll also briefly cover the different types of roof flashing you should consider for your home, including:
- Base flashing
- Step flashing
- Vent boot flashing
- Valley flashing
- Chimney flashing
Understanding Roof Flashing
Roof flashing is a crucial part of any roofing system. It prevents water from seeping into areas where different roof structures intersect or where there may be openings. By providing a watertight seal, roof flashing ensures water is directed away from vulnerabilities. This protects the underlying roofing materials and the building’s interior.
Roof flashing is typically made from thin, durable materials that can withstand exposure to weather elements like rain, snow, and sunlight. This is particularly important in Australia, where adverse weather is common.
The 5 Different Types of Roof Flashing
Roofs often have many types of flashing in their system. It’s important to understand how each one functions to protect your roof from weather conditions.
Let’s look at the five most common roof flashing types:
Base flashing (or step flashing) waterproofs the base of vertical projections, like chimneys, walls, and dormers, where they intersect with the sloping roof surface.
Vent boot flashing
Vent boot flashing seals around vent pipes or plumbing stacks through the roof. It helps prevent water infiltration at these points.
Valley flashing is installed in roof valleys, where two roof planes meet and create a low point. It channels water down the valley and away from the roof, preventing water from pooling and causing leaks.
Chimney flashing creates a waterproof seal around the base of the chimney where it meets the roof. It prevents water from entering the gap between the chimney and the roofing material.
4 Different Types of Roof Flashing Materials
Struggling to decide which roof flashing materials you should use for your home? Here are the four most popular options available to homeowners in Australia, along with their benefits and drawbacks.
Aluminum flashing is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and easy to work with. It’s a commonly used material in coastal regions where salt exposure is an issue or when the roof needs to be lightweight.
Benefits: Known for its durability and longevity, aluminum flashing can withstand adverse weather like rain, snow, and UV radiation without deteriorating.
Its lightweight and flexibility make aluminum flashing relatively easy to work with during installation. Roofers can quickly cut and shape it to fit various roof configurations.
Drawbacks: While aluminum is durable and corrosion-resistant, it isn’t as long-lasting as other materials like copper or stainless steel. It may be prone to dents, scratches, or warping, especially in areas with extreme weather conditions.
The color of aluminum flashing may also fade due to exposure to UV radiation, affecting your home’s curb appeal.
Copper flashing is durable, highly resistant to corrosion, and develops a beautiful patina over time, adding an attractive aesthetic to the roof. It is often used in high-end or historical roofing projects.
Benefits: Copper is highly resistant to corrosion, making it ideal for areas with high humidity or proximity to coastal environments. It develops a natural patina over time, which further enhances its resistance to weathering. It also has a unique and attractive appearance, adding a sophisticated touch to your home.
Drawbacks: Copper is one of the most expensive roofing materials in comparison to other flashing options. The initial cost of copper flashing can be too high for budget-conscious projects.
Lead flashing is flexible and easily molded to fit many roofing shapes and contours. It’s a traditional roofing material because of its ease of use and effectiveness.
Benefits: Lead flashing is known for its exceptional durability and long lifespan. Lead flashing can last for several decades, making it a cost-effective choice when installed properly.
Once installed, lead flashing requires very little maintenance. It does not need frequent painting or coatings to maintain its performance or appearance.
Drawbacks: Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health and the environment. Exposure to lead, especially through ingestion or inhalation of lead particles, can lead to serious health issues.
Many areas of Australia choose to regulate lead. For example, New South Wales and South Australia have regulations limiting the use of lead in certain building applications.
The use of lead flashing or other lead-based roofing materials may be subject to strict guidelines and requirements to ensure the safety of occupants and the environment. Check the laws in your region before considering a lead roof.
Rubber Flashing / EPDM Flashing
Rubber flashing, often made from EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), is flexible and offers excellent waterproofing solutions. Rubber is commonly in flat roofs and low-slope systems.
Benefits: Rubber flashing, particularly EPDM, is known for its outstanding waterproofing capabilities. It forms a tight and secure seal around roof penetrations and transitions, preventing water infiltration and leaks.
Rubber flashing is easy to work with and install. Its flexibility allows for quick and efficient installation around roof penetrations and other vulnerable areas.
Drawbacks: Rubber flashing can be more susceptible to punctures and tears than metal flashings like copper or aluminum. Sharp objects or heavy impacts can damage the rubber material, compromising waterproofing. It’s essential to be careful when installing and maintaining your roof.
How to Find the Best Roof Flashing Material For Your Home
Finding the best roof flashing material for your home involves careful consideration of the climate, your budget, and your aesthetic choices. Here’s how to find the best flashing material for your home.
First, consider the type of roofing system you have, whether it’s asphalt shingles, metal, tile, slate, or another material. Different flashing materials work better with specific roofing systems. Choose a material that complements your roofing material for a cohesive and effective solution.
Think about the climate and weather conditions in your area. If you live in a coastal region or a place with high humidity, materials with excellent corrosion resistance, like copper or stainless steel, might be best for your home.
Next, set a budget for your roofing project. The cost of flashing materials varies. Options range from more affordable materials like aluminum to premium choices like copper or lead. Balance cost with long-term benefits and performance.
Finally, choose a flashing material that complements the overall look and style of your home. Copper and lead flashing can add an elegant touch, while rubber and PVC may offer a more modern look.
Improve your Home’s Insulation with Roof Flashing
Investing in high-quality roof flashing will help you to enhance your home’s insulation and protect it from water-related issues. A well-insulated home not only provides comfort and energy savings but contributes to the life of your roofing system and overall property value.
It’s also a good idea to install a fixed dry ridge and hip system to add an extra layer of insulation and ventilation. Check out RapidRidge to learn how their natural cooling passive system can work alongside roof flashing.