Roof flashing is essential to the overall vitality of a roofing system. However, not many homeowners know what it is or why it’s there.
In this article, we’ll give you a quick rundown of one of your roof’s most critical components so you’ll know exactly what your roofing contractor is talking about when it comes time to schedule maintenance or repairs.
Keep reading to learn more.
What Exactly Is Roof Flashing?
Roof flashing is the thin, flat piece of metal that’s used to seal off the perimeters and protrusions of your roofing system to help waterproof it. Roof flashing works by directing water away from the seams and joints of your roofing components to prevent it from entering into any potential cracks and other openings.
Roof flashing typically gets installed right over the underlayment and underneath the shingles on asphalt shingle roofs, and on top of the panels on metal roofs. More specifically, roof flashing is installed in the following areas as they are especially vulnerable to water leakage:
- Skylights: Some skylights are manufactured with the roof flashing built-in for easier installation. Generally speaking, the roof flashing is built into the raised wooden curbs of a skylight — and it’s important to know how your flashing is installed should you need to repair or replace it.
- Chimneys: Roof flashing always has to be installed around the base of any type of chimney. It gets installed in a few different parts to ensure the area is sealed to keep the interior of your home dry and safe.
- Vents: Whether your roof has pipe vents or hood vents, the roof flashing will be installed around them to ensure any water that trickles down during and after a storm won’t find its way into your roofing system.
- Valleys: On sloped roofing systems, flashing is always installed where two sloping planes — or, valleys — come together to create an angle. These spots are well known for water penetration when roof flashing is improperly installed or damaged.
The common theme here is leak and water damage prevention, which is exactly what roof flashing is designed for. Depending on the type of roofing system, there could be more areas that require flashing as well. The rule of thumb is the more geometry a roof has, the more flashing it’ll require to seal out water from cracks and crevices.
4 Types of Roof Flashing
Roof flashing is a simple yet detailed component of your roofing system, and there are four very common types of flashing that homeowners need to know about.
The common types of roof flashing include:
1) Apron Flashing
Apron flashing is always used at the base of a wall or penetration point. It takes on an L shape and can measure up to 14 feet in length to fit around the large base of penetration points, such as that of a chimney. Apron flashing is also typically installed around dormers to prevent water from seeping into your windows.
2) Step Flashing
Step flashing is mostly used against the sides of roofing component walls and chimneys. Step flashing is installed piece by piece beneath each shingle, right up against the side of the component’s wall to seal off the vulnerable points as water runs down your roof. Step flashing gets its name from the way it’s installed, which is also what makes it the most obvious type of roofing flashing.
3) Counter Flashing
Counter flashing is used on walls and chimneys just like step flashing. However, unlike step flashing, counter flashing is installed by sawing into existing mortar joints. This allows the metal to come over the top of the brick components. Similar to step flashing, counter flashing is often installed piece by piece — but counter flashing is always visible to the naked eye, whereas step flashing is not.
4) Roof Valley Flashing
As mentioned earlier, roof valleys are one of the most vulnerable areas due to the amount of water that flows along the surface. Therefore, the right material must be installed to protect them — which is always metal roof flashing. This is because metal is malleable and is able to bend to help close the valley. Valley flashing won’t be visible if you have architectural asphalt shingles installed; however, certain luxury asphalt shingles, as well as cedar shakes, will show the roof flashing in the open valleys.
Rely On Us for Your Roof Flashing Projects!
You can think of your roof flashing as a line of defense against the elements, which is why it’s important to maintain and have it installed properly. Whether you need a new roof, maintenance, or an inspection, the Maumee River Roofing team will ensure the job is done right.Give us a call today to schedule your next roof inspection!