What Is Flashing on a Roof?

What Is Flashing on a Roof?

You’ve probably heard of flashing before. While it’s a word with many connotations, in regards to roofing, it has a specific and important meaning. Flashing is one of the most important protective components on a shingle roof, and if it fails, you can expect a lot of preventable damage to the roof and building. When you need roof repairs, Paradigm Roofing has you covered. But to help you understand how to better prevent the need for repairs, here’s a little bit of information about your roof’s flashing.

What Is Flashing?

Flashing is a sheet of thin metal that is applied to a roof to control water. It helps to seal joints and direct the flow of water off of a pitched roof. Essentially, flashing is needed anywhere that the shingles butt up against something. This would include wall-like areas, such as a chimney. It also includes valleys in the roof where the shingles butt up against each other.

Without flashing, you’re much more likely to have leaks. Those leaks come with additional roof damage and complications. It’s pretty bad news all around. Every shingle roof needs flashing and usually a fair amount of it.

Additionally, flashing comes in different applications. Some types of flashing have to be installed under certain layers of roofing materials. Other applications sit entirely on top. It depends on the design of the roof and the purpose of the flashing. Ultimately, this makes flashing a versatile way to prevent water damage, but it requires a strong working knowledge to design and apply.

How Does It Work?

Flashing is usually made from aluminum, steel, or copper. Steel is the most common choice because it is the cheapest, and treated steel holds up fine in the face of weather. Under normal circumstances, steel flashing lasts longer than the roof itself.

Copper and aluminum options are available. They typically last longer than steel, and they offer different aesthetics that allow homeowners more freedom in the visual aspects of their roofs.

Regardless of the material you choose, flashing works by creating a barrier over parts of the roof where water runoff is common (like valleys in the roof). The flashing helps the water to flow freely so it can flow away from these problem areas. Because the flashing is wider than the area it needs to cover, there is no risk that the water will leak under the flashing and otherwise cause water damage.

Flashing is also sealed at the edges to prevent water from getting under the cover it provides.

How Is Flashing Installed?

When we install flashing, we do it with precision. First, we carefully measure the area that needs the flashing. We use those measurements to do more than just see how much flashing is needed. We also use them to design the cuts and figure out where seams and joints should be in the flashing. Many roofs have long runs that require a joint (or joints) in the flashing.

Once we cut the flashing, we can take it up to the roof. At this point, we will implement an installation technique. There are a number of ways to install flashing, and each serves a specific purpose. We will have already determined which techniques we are using before we even cut the flashing.

Regardless of the method deployed, the flashing is attached using rubber cement or a comparable bonding agent. When we are confident that it is installed well, we finish the process by sealing the indent. This ensures that there will be no leaks underneath the flashing and the roof is fully protected.

What Do You Need to Do to Maintain It?

When it comes to maintenance, it’s important to remember that flashing is made from metal. It doesn’t need a whole lot of care and oversight. Mostly, it just needs an annual inspection. Weather and the outdoor life of a roof will eventually take their toll on the flashing. Falling objects can puncture or dent it. Heavy wind can damage the seal around the edge of the flashing. Scratches can penetrate the seal and lead to rust (more of a problem with steel than the other metals).

None of this is common. An annual inspection is enough to catch problems before they get out of control. Whenever an uncommon storm arises (the kind that garners “storm of the century” types of headlines), it’s prudent to have a roof inspection once it’s safe.

Other than that, it’s nice to keep the flashing clean and clear of debris. Cleanliness is mostly about appearances, but debris does matter. Water runs faster and more easily along the flashing, so if leaves or other debris piles up on the flashing, they will quickly get washed into the gutters, and it can cause a clog. So hose down the flashing if you ever see a buildup. That will be enough.

If your roof needs flashing repair, installation, or inspection, contact Paradigm Roofing in Collin County. We’ll be happy to talk to you today and schedule our visit. We’ll come to you to see your roof and work with you to form a plan of action that protects your roof without disrupting your life.