What Is Flashing on a Roof?

Roofs are designed to protect the things inside a structure because the elements, especially water, tend to wreak havoc on interior pieces like drywall, paint, and carpet. Personal items like furniture and valuable pieces in a home or building are also easily damaged or destroyed by water, so ensuring a roof does not leak is a major function of its design.

One of the main roof components that protects the interior of a structure from water is roof flashing. Regardless of whether you have a shingle roof or a metal roof, roof flashing is strategically installed anywhere there is a seam or a joint or any kind of protrusion, such as a vent, in the roof. Roof flashing is typically a thin sheet of metal installed with the specific job of directing water away from areas of the roof that are more susceptible to leaks.

Flashing is one of the main essential pieces of any roof. Its ability to direct water away and off the roof is good for the longevity of the roof itself, and it also ensures that everything the roof is protecting is kept dry.

Types of Roof Flashing

While it is possible to have roof flashing fashioned from plastic or rubber, the most popular material is metal. Metal flashing can be created from galvanized or stainless steel, aluminum, zinc alloy, or copper, and it has the added benefit of being rust-resistant. Metal flashing can also be customized to match an existing roof type or color.

Because it needs to cover several different components of a roof, roof flashing falls into a few different categories:

  • Base flashing is specifically designed to direct water downward on a surface and is typically installed around larger components like chimneys because it can be installed on the side of the chimney and angled to attach to the roof.
  • Step flashing is specifically designed for 90° angles and is also installed around larger components like chimneys or window elements.
  • Valley flashing is installed where two roof planes meet to channel water off the roof, most likely into a gutter system.
  • Chimney flashing refers to the larger chimney flashing setup, which includes the base and step flashing needed to capture and direct water away from the chimney area of a roof.
  • Drip edge flashing is installed along the eaves where the roof ends and helps direct water away from the sides of the home.
  • Skylight flashing is a larger flashing setup similar to chimney flashing that fully fits around the top, sides, and bottom of a skylight in a roof, as this type of installation component is extremely susceptible to water seeping in.
  • Continuous flashing is usually used in conjunction with step flashing where a vertical wall meets the roof. This typically includes longer pieces of metal running the length of a wall with no breaks.
  • Kickout flashing is installed along gutters to ensure water is directed into the gutter and then flows through the exterior drainage setup of the house or building.
  • Vent flashing is customized to fit around vents or other features like flues or pipes that might jut out of a roof. Because vents are typically circular, vent flashing is usually cone shaped.

Whole Roof Maintenance

We bet you never realized it took so many customizable pieces of flashing to protect a roof from water! The whole roof system has so many different intersections, connections, and additional components like chimneys or windows, and thus water runoff occurs equally on various types of surfaces and angles. Water likes to try and seep in anywhere it can, so ensuring you have the correct type of metal flashing for the roof design is critical.

This is also why maintaining each piece of your roof is so important. Metal flashing is usually thinner and more flexible than other metal roof components. So keeping an eye out for cracks, loose screws, or gradual wear and tear/corrosion is key to keeping your whole roof system working correctly. We highly recommend making sure your metal flashing is a part of your overall annual roof inspections.

Local Experts

At Alpine Sheet Metal Systems, we specialize in designing, fabricating, and installing any type of metal flashing for any type of roof project. We have over 20 years of experience in this business, so if you are located in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama, or Arkansas, give us a call to speak with one of our representatives or receive a free quote for your customized project.