Copper flashing is one of the most common types of roof flashing used, but it is far from the only material available. Copper does not hold paint as well as aluminium, and vinyl is probably the most lightweight flashing available. In some cases, you may choose to do without a physical flashing material at all and, instead, use a roof sealant that can be mopped, rolled or painted on. A roof sealant seals as well as any flashing material does.
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Aluminium is both lighter and less expensive than copper flashing. And, aluminium is similar to copper flashing in that it does not tarnish or corrode; it is often the flashing of choice for windows or other highly visible areas. For the large-scale production of homes, aluminium flashing is often purchased in rolls and cut or bent in a machine known as a break to meet specific design needs.
For roof valleys, steel flashing has been the material of choice for many years. It is more durable than copper or aluminium and can actually add support to the sensitive joints where multiple pitches meet. Steel tends to be heavier than the other flashing materials, which means that it is also more time-consuming to implement. You can use steel flashing for most roof applications, but it may not be cost-effective if it is the only type of flashing material you use.
Vinyl flashing is even lighter than aluminium, and you can purchase it in solid colours that never need to be painted. Vinyl, though, can become brittle over time, resulting in cracks or breaks. When considering vinyl flashing, factor in the need to replace the vinyl every 10 years or so. One advantage of this material is that vinyl can give your home a more decorative appearance. Finally, if the initial cost is an important factor, vinyl may be a good choice for balancing finances.
There are many types of roof sealants. Some, such as rolled roofing, are rolled out to size and cut to fit the particular application. Other types of roof sealants, such as roofing tar, are swabbed, poured or painted in place. Sealants used in place of hard flashing generally have a rubbery texture when dry, allowing a certain amount of movement and pliancy between the roof and adjoining wall or roof pitch.
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