June 10, 2022

What is Flashing in Roofing?

Flashing is another part of roofing that helps keep the weather out. But the kind of flashing you need depends on the job.

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Flashing around a brick chimney (credit: Claire CJS)

It’s easy to look at a roof and see how important the shingles are.  They give your home protection, keep out the weather, and help your house look nice. But underneath the asphalt, there is an entire system that lays the foundation and provides support to the shingles. There’s decking, underlayment, and roof flashing beneath the shingles, and each one is critically important to a healthy roofing system. 

So, what is flashing? 

In a perfect world, shingles would be enough to keep out the rain. They could be laid on the roof, perfectly overlapping each other from one side of your house to the other and create a completely closed system. 

Unfortunately, that never happens in the real world.  Every roof has holes in it. That’s because we put them there! Chimneys, pipes, vents, skylights - there are lots of things that have to penetrate through the roof. Some are big and others are small, but no matter the size, each one creates a weak point where water could get into your home.  Flashing is the sheet metal we use to seal those holes and cracks up, making sure your house is safe and dry, no matter how bad the weather gets.

Different problems call for different solutions. So, there are actually two main types of roof flashing that we use - step flashing and roll flashing.

Step Flashing

Whenever shingles meet a wall, it creates a break in the roof.  The crack there can be a major problem. Water will run down the wall and straight through the gap, into the home.  So roof flashing needs to be installed to keep that water out. 

The problem is, to direct the water off the roof, the flashing is going to have to follow the slope all the way to the edge.  So, just like with shingles, we’ve got to create an overlapping pathway of sheet metal to whisk it away.

Step flashing comes in segments of about 6 inches.  They are placed so that they overlap, creating a strong seal that follows the slope of your roof adjacent to the wall. 

When installing step flashing, it’s important to make sure there is a tight fit between the side wall and the flashing.  Sealant along the top edge needs to be applied in a way that creates a smooth transition. This way, water can easily roll down between the two.  As with everything on your roof, the key is to make sure that there is no opening, crack, or weak point exposed where the water can sneak through.

Roll Flashing

When flashing needs to follow the slope of the roof, step flashing is used.  But when flashing is needed to just run horizontally along the roof, not having to follow the slope, we can use roll flashing.  

Roll flashing is just one continuous piece of sheet metal, typically 12 - 14 inches wide, that seals your roof from the object that is penetrating it - whether it’s a pipe or skylight or vent or chimney. And it can be used for the place where your roof meets a wall if there is no slope.  The rolls are usually about 10 feet long, so they can be rolled out and cut to the right size for the job.  

The main thing to remember about roll flashing is that it is used when the wall or penetration needs to be sealed parallel to the ground. As long as there’s no slope, this is the best option. It’s easier and faster to install and it does a better job when the area is flat.  

Flashing Installation

If you need flashing installation in McKinney, Texas, or anywhere around the DFW area, Parish Roofing Solutions is here for you.  Our team has years of experience making sure that our clients’ homes are safe from the elements. 

We are committed to going the extra mile and doing things right. That’s why we have a warranty call-back rate below 2%. We don’t just throw something up and disappear.  We’re part of this community and we are here to serve. 

If you’re thinking of replacing or repairing your roof, reach out to us for a FREE estimate.  We’ll have your roof in top shape in no time!

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