If you’re looking to undertake a large roofing project, it will help to know the different parts that make up your roof. Of course, your roof isn’t simply a series of tiles that you attach to the top of your house; there is a lot more to it and it’s important for homeowners to educate themselves on the different parts of a roof.
Note, however, that due to the hazards involved, all roofing projects on your home should be performed by a certified, experienced professional roofing company. The purpose here is to educate; always contact a roofing service should you be in need of repairs or other roofing work.
The Parts of Your Roof
Like any other part of your home, the roof is a complex structure and is made up of many different elements. The visible, overlapping parts of the roof are known as shingles and are generally flat and rectangular.
Shingles can be made from many different materials; among the most popular are asphalt, wood, and metal, although plastic and stone shingles also exist. Underneath the shingles, there is a membrane made from fabric or felt and asphalt; this prevents leakage and ice damming on your roof.
Your roof also features vents that help to allow air into your home. The trick, of course, is to allow proper ventilation into the house without taking in water from the rain and snow. This is where the part of the roof known as the roof flashing comes in.
The flashing is one of the most important parts of your roof. This may not be a part that you give much thought to, but it’s critical; the flashing is the part that keeps the vents and joints in your roof from leaking, protecting your home from water damage and keeping you and your family dry.
It can be made from a number of different materials, which will vary depending on the type of roofing and the specific area you are trying to protect.
Materials Used in Flashing
There are many different materials used in roof flashing, and each of them is best suited to a particular purpose and a different roofing material. Commonly, flashing can be made from PVC, an extremely durable plastic polymer. It’s inexpensive and waterproof, however, it is not compatible with asphalt, which will eat through it. For homes with asphalt shingles or asphalt membranes, PVC is not an effective roof flashing.
Metal is another popular choice for roof flashing; aluminum and galvanized steel being the most common. Galvanized steel, while a little more expensive than PVC, is extremely durable and has the advantage over other metals of being rust proof.
Aluminum carries with it the advantage of being easy to work with; it can easily be shaped to fit nearly any joint or vent. Other materials are also used as roof flashing, such as felt, rubber, and copper, although these tend to be a bit less versatile.
What Types of Roof Flashing Exist?
When beginning construction on a new roof or specific roofing project, you’ll need to do more than select the material used for your flashing. You’ll also need to figure out exactly what type of roof flashing you need, which will depend on the features present on your roof. For example, vent pipe flashing is shaped specifically to cover vents; you’ll almost certainly need a few appropriately sized pieces for the vents on and around your roof.
Saddle Flashing is another type of custom-sized roof flashing; it is used to cover railing attachments and protruding beams. For the overall roof itself, the most common type of flashing is step flashing, which as its name suggests is stepped (overlapped) underneath the shingles of your roof, and continuous flashing, which is simply one long piece of flashing. Continuous flashing is most commonly used to protect the space between the sloped roof and the wall itself.
Valley flashing is another type of roof flashing you’ll almost certainly need to make use of. This type is used in the roof valleys and serves as a sort of gutter; the valleys on your roof have small gaps in between them and are thus prone to develop leaks. Valley flashing helps to prevent this from happening.
Does Flashing Require Maintenance?
Even though most flashing is made from highly durable materials, like every part of your home, it will require care and maintenance and eventually wear out. Luckily, it’s usually for a professional roofer to repair or replace the roof flashing in your home. Generally, it’s easy for roofers to construct their own custom pieces from metal or other materials.
When Do I Call My Roofer?
As with any part of your home, your roof should be inspected somewhat regularly by a professional to ensure that it is both safe and structurally sound. If there have been storms involving heavy winds, rains, and/or hail recently, you’ll probably want to have your roof evaluated, especially if there’s visible damage.
If you have an older home and the roof hasn’t been cared for in a while, or you are not sure when the last time it received maintenance was, then you’ll probably want to get an evaluation from a roofer as well.
If there are any obvious signs of physical damage, including leaks, the growth of mold or moss, or sun damage, you’ll also want a professional to come take a look at your roof flashing.
Who Do I Call?
Since you depend on your roof for both the safety and structural integrity of your home, you’ll need to make sure you invest in a licensed professional roofing contractor. Take care to research and fully vet any company you’re interested in; read reviews, check references, and if the price seems too cheap to be true, it probably is. Cheap roofing work will lead to expensive repairs down the road, ultimately costing you a lot more money than if you had just gone for a reputable roofing contractor in the first place.
In the Portland and Vancouver area, Executive Roofing Service has been in business for over 40 years and can provide you with the best—and safest—possible roofing care and maintenance.