Roofing Guide: What Are the Most Common Types of Roof Flashing?

Your roof is more than just the visible shingles you see at first glance. At a closer look, you'll see it is composed of different parts and pieces that all work together to shield your family from harmful elements.

One of these crucial roofing components involves roof flashing – a thin material commonly made of galvanized steel that's designed to direct water away from specific areas. Without it, you will be more prone to roof leaks which can be costly, messy, and time-consuming. (Yikes!) Today, let's learn the different types of roof flashing and the materials used.

11 Common Types of Roof Flashing

As previously mentioned, roof flashing is a thin metal material designed to redirect water away from specific areas of your roof. This includes chimneys, roof valleys, and walls. That said, here are the most common types of flashing for roofs:

1. Step Flashing

Step flashing takes on a rectangular shape with a 90-degree bend in the center. It is typically applied to chimneys and wall sides. It functions by inserting a metal piece (flashing) under each shingle installed directly up against the side of a wall to prevent water from draining into it.

True to its name, "step" flashing is installed by placing a shingle, a piece of flashing, another shingle, and a part of flashing until you've covered the wall thoroughly. In short, numerous parts will be fitted as layers under the shingles.

2. Continuous Flashing

Continuous flashing is also known as "apron flashing" since it acts similar to one. Water is directed down to the shingles underneath through a single, long piece of metal.

3. Base Flashing

Chimneys are one example of a roof feature that needs two flashing sections. To send rainwater downward, it must always meet a flashing surface. Keep in mind that flashing installation around a chimney is particularly challenging.

4. Counter Flashing

Counter flashing is commonly positioned either above or the opposite of base flashing. Like step flashing, counter flashing is usually applied to walls and chimneys. The flashing is sawed into an existing mortar joint, and the metal extends over the top of the brick.

It is occasionally installed using a step-by-step process, just like step flashing. So, how do you tell the difference? Simple. If it's flashing that is visible– it's counter flashing.

5. Skylight Flashing

Some skylight manufacturers also offer flashing along with their products, while others may require you to make or buy it separately. If you plan to install skylights at home, knowing your options in advance would be best.

6. Vent Pipe Flashing 

Vent pipe flashing (used to seal ventilation pipes and other protrusions) can aid with draught exclusion and also helps avoid leaks.

7. Apron Flashing

You'll often find an apron flashing at a wall or a penetration's base. It has an L-shape and can be up to 14 feet long to accommodate the standard base size. It is often utilized around dormers to keep water from entering into windows.

8. Valley Flashing

Your roof's exposed valleys are protected by metal flashing since they are a crucial part of the roof. Valley flashing is commonly put in place around open roof valleys (where two differently sloped sections of roof meet). It prevents debris buildup and directs rainwater off the roof.

9. Drip Edges

Drip edges refer to a thin metal flashing at the roof's edge. It allows water to trickle down the roof without causing harm to the house or creating an annoying leak that could lead to further consequences. (Related: What is the Difference Between a Drip Edge & Gutter Apron? We Help You Figure Out)

10. Kickout Flashing

Generally, contractors need a means of bridging the space between the end of the step flashing and the start of the gutter. Water is directed away from the wall and into the gutter using kick-out flashing.

11. Cap Flashing

Like counter flashing, cap flashing is a type of roofing flashing that offers perpendicular protection to overlap another flashing. You can usually find these installed around chimneys.

Roof Flashing Materials

Most roof flashing types are made of thin metal material. Here are the three most common metal materials used for roof flashing:

  • Aluminum roof flashing ─ Aluminum material is known to be accessible, easy to work with, and lightweight. However, if aluminum flashing is used with brick and concrete, it will need coating. Uncoated aluminum reacts and degrades when it comes into touch with alkaline surfaces.

  • Copper roof flashing ─ Copper flashing is malleable and takes soldering well. Also, it tends to be quite durable and has a longer lifespan. Depending on the homeowner, there can be some discoloration in the patina. This is often found around chimneys.

  • Steel roof flashing ─ Steel flashing is considered the most frequently used option for roof flashing. It has a unique aesthetic appeal, aside from being bendable and corrosion-resistant after being galvanized.

  • Sealant ─ Another essential component of roof flashing is the sealant. Historically, roofers nailed the flashing to the roof, but roofing cement is most frequently used today. Roofing cement is typically preferred over nails since it can occasionally cause issues with inflexibility, preventing the roof from expanding and contracting in response to changing weather conditions. Building codes may specify a particular sealant material. We recommend consulting with your roofing contractor to protect you if the material is forbidden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is roof flashing important?

Roof flashing is just as important as replacing or installing a new roof. Besides being essential to home improvement procedures, it is also a key factor for good roof maintenance, mainly because it protects the roof deck and structure. 

How does roof flashing protect my home?

Flashing prevents water from entering your home and protects the roofing materials. That said, water can quickly enter your home without it. Apart from the damage to the appearance, it can also cause severe problems in your home interior and expenses.

The main reason behind most roof leaks is the improper installation of flashing. Water damage to your roof deck or any other materials used to build your roof structure is often caused by improper flashing, which allows water to infiltrate underneath your shingles quickly.

Why should I repair a roof flashing leak?

These are the things you must look out for: (1) cracks and dents that are noticeable, (2) rust or corrosion, (3) growing mold or mildew, (4) damaged fascia board, (5) damage caused by water, and (6) missing pieces or nails.

These signs will be more noticeable on the exterior or siding of your walls. Look out for any mold growth, water stains, or paint bubbles. Corrosion and rust buildup clearly show a need for roof flashing repair or replacement. Materials can easily break down and bend because of rust. This will only lead to more roof flashing replacement and higher repair costs.

How much does roof flashing cost?

The cost for roof flashing may vary depending on many factors, such as: (1) type of flashing and materials used, (2) difficulty of installation, (3) scope of damage and labor, and (4) flashing damage location.

For instance, using aluminum is less costly than using steel sheet metal. It will be less expensive to repair or replace the vent or valley flashing than to step-flash the whole roof. The price range for chimney and skylight flashing is $250 to $600. On the other hand, the amount of step flashing you would require would depend on the project's scope.

Other things to keep in mind are tools, labor, and miscellaneous fees of the home improvement process, including transport and material accessibility. It can cost you between $100 to $700. However, it will still likely depend on your roofing professional's assessment.