You’ve redone your flooring. Fixed your masonry. Got the tools you need for landscaping. But, have you ever paused to think about your roofing structure? About where it has aluminum, steel, or copper flashing? Most homeowners don’t, as they’re more focused on other things. The roof often takes a backseat. However, having a basic understanding of your roofing system is the secret to maximizing its service life. One of the key components of a roofing system is flashing. A roof flashing is basically a thin strip of material. Contractors install flashing over roofing intersections. Common roof areas that require flashing are:
- Skylights: To complete a skylight installation, a contractor should ensure a tight fit with flashing.
- Vents: Roof vent flashing can be installed directly to the frame or to the vent.
- Roof valleys: Valleys, either opened or closed, and the weakest points of the roof. Open valleys need flashing, which usually is exposed.
- Dormer windows: Their corners that are leak-prone. Roofers install the flashing directly to the roofing cement.
● Chimneys: A connection between chimney and roof must be watertight, pick a material ensuring tight corners.
You can just imagine the consequences of leaks. A leaky roof leads to moisture accumulation. Moisture damages furniture and promotes mold growth. Flashing prevents a host of problems and costly repairs.
Do you need roof flashing?
Flashing is installed on all types of roof shapes. whether skillion, flat, or gable, need flashing. So whether you own a residential or commercial roof, flashing is a must-have.
The flashing installation process should take place on the same day the roof is installed. By then, you should have already figured out which material to use.
Popular Flashing Materials: Aluminum and Copper Flashing
Among the different types of flashing in the market, aluminum and copper are two great options.
- Aluminum Flashing – This roof flashing material is commonly found on most homes. It wasn’t until the 20th century that aluminum was used for roofing applications.
- Copper Flashing – Copper as a flashing material blends well with a copper roof. So if you have copper shingles and gutters, they look great together.
Aluminum vs Copper Flashing Costs
Price seems to be the number one consideration when it comes to selecting any roofing component. Which is cheaper, aluminum or copper?
Between aluminum and copper, aluminum is the affordable choice. An aluminum flashing roll will cost you about $110 while a copper flashing roll is about $300. This clearly adds up to a significant price difference.
Winner in terms of affordability is aluminum flashing.
The fact that aluminum flashing is cheap makes property owners choose it frequently. This is especially true for multi-family homes.
Factors that Affect Roof Flashing Prices
But as with anything in construction, aluminum and copper flashing prices can vary depending on other factors. Aside from the types of material, here are the other variables:
Manufacturing Process: Copper flashing is more complicated to form. This explains why it’s expensive. To cut thick copper flashing, a manufacturer uses tin snips. Because aluminum is thinner, it can be cut using any method with ease.
Roof Access: How easy or difficult is your roof to work on? If roof flashing installers need more equipment and tools to complete the job, then that would mean a pricier labor. All these details related to the flashing installation work are reflected in the roofing estimate.
Product Brand: Whether you choose an aluminum or copper flashing, pay attention to the brand. To justify the price of a manufacturer, look at the guarantees that are provided.
Valley Areas: Before flashing valley areas, check whether you want open or closed valleys. Also, look at how many valleys you have that should be covered with flashing.
Emergency Services: Consider whether your flashing installation or replacement project is one that needs to be done right away. Most emergency roofing services cost more than one that’s planned weeks or months ahead. To prevent emergency situations, be sure to maintain your roof or hire a licensed contractor from the start.
Where You Live: Location is another factor that dictates roof flashing prices. The economy in every area differs and this reflects on how much roofing components cost.
A property owner who has an eye for design might ask if aluminum or copper flashing looks more attractive. Since the roof accounts for 40% of a home’s visual appeal, it only makes sense to pick the best roofing components.
Between aluminum and copper flashing, copper flashing wins. It’s a high-end material. Creating a timeless look, it makes any home stand out. If you ever plan to sell your home in the future, having copper flashing helps retain its value.
Another reason why copper flashing is the most beautiful is patina. Patina is the greenish outer layer that forms on copper as it tarnishes and undergoes oxidation over time.
You’ll also be surprised that patina is actually protective. In fact, some people like to apply patina to copper.
When aluminum flashing corrodes, it looks very unattractive.
Materials that Match Copper Flashing
Ideally, copper flashing matches a home with a copper roof, gutter system, or ridge vents.
Copper flashings also emphasize parts of your home that you consider great features. Let’s say that you want to accentuate dormer windows on an asphalt shingle roof. Copper flashing is one way to achieve this because of its shine.
What if you have slate roof tiles? Copper flashing for slate roofing is also great to have. It serves as an accent that brings out the vintage look of your home.
Cedar roofs and copper flashing harmonize with each other. This is because they belong to the same color palette.
Painting Aluminum Flashing
While aluminum flashing looks a lot less attractive, there is a way to make it match your roof: Paint it. Paint also helps prevent corrosion.
Corrosion happens when you install aluminum flashing in an environment that’s acidic. It also occurs when the flashing material is installed near treated wood – such as a cedar roof.
Painting aluminum flashing is possible because the material itself receives paint well.
There are various colors to choose from that complement your current roofing material and color. You should not apply paint over aluminum directly; abrade the surface first to ensure that the paint sticks.
Here are more reasons why copper flashing is durable:
The average lifespan of copper flashing is at least 50 years. However, it can last as long as 100 years when given proper care. Maintaining copper to make it last many more years is simple. Create a mixture of paste cleaner for copper + vinegar. Brush the flashing surface with the mixture.
According to the experts, copper flashing lasts as long as a copper roof. The same thing goes for aluminum flashing.
A Word About Workmanship and Flashing Lifespan:
You might not realize this but workmanship affects the service life of a flashing material. Faulty installation methods often result in premature failure. This prompts the need for an early replacement.
As you can see, the features of aluminum vs copper flashing won’t really matter if a contractor doesn’t install the material correctly.
If your property is found in a coastal environment, we don’t recommend installing aluminum flashing. Aluminum is likely to corrode in the presence of salt than copper. In addition, copper is unaffected by atmospheric changes – the reason why it lives longer.
Regardless of the roof flashing that is used, a contractor should ensure that it forms a watertight seal. Copper flashing is superior to aluminum flashing in this aspect.
Roofing contractors often receive complaints about leaks from homeowners whose roofs have aluminum flashing. This less likely happens among those with copper flashing.
Maintenance is another aspect to check to determine how durable flashing materials are. Copper doesn’t require a lot of cleaning. Thanks to the fact that it’s resistant to fungus and algae. Not to mention, corrosion.
So between aluminum vs copper flashing, aluminum needs more maintenance. Regular roofing inspections allow for the detection of deteriorating aluminum flashing.
Both aluminum and copper flashing are eco-friendly and environmentally harmful in their own ways. It’s up to you to decide which one is better.
Aluminum and copper flashing materials are 100% recyclable.
After aluminum, copper is known to be the 3rd-most recycled material. It makes sense to recycle copper owing to the fact that it is a finite resource. To recycle aluminum flashing, we can turn it into pieces of tinwork art and even headboards.
Mining copper for roof flashing produces harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide. This gas contributes to acid rain and pollutes the air we breathe. However, recycling emits fewer gases since it consumes less energy.
There are landfill concerns surrounding roofing waste. We can safely say that copper flashing materials are less likely to end up in landfills. This is because they’re able to stand the test of time.
Types of Building and Architectural Styles
Most of the time, copper flashing is used on churches, universities, museums, and other historical buildings. This creates a timeless appeal. If you plan to build a victorian-style or italianate-style house, copper flashing is a superb choice.
On the other hand, modern structures and house designs use aluminum flashing. For example, condominiums, houses with flat roofs, and new retail stores.
True enough, copper flashing turns most people off since it’s crazy expensive. But you’ll realize its long-term value. Here are reasons why:
- Copper material itself is permanent. You may replace non-copper parts of your house such as the windows or siding in a few years. Copper flashing stays intact.
- Since copper flashing withstands heavy snowfalls, rain, and harsh weather, you won’t have to deal with structural problems – except if the reason is poor installation.
- You’ll love the look of copper flashing as the years go by. As we’ve mentioned, copper develops patina. This change is not just attractive, it is protective.
Should You Get Aluminum or Copper Flashing?
Some people ask, “Is copper flashing worth the expense?”
If you ask us, we choose copper flashing. Copper flashing lasts longer than aluminum flashing, demonstrates a timeless beauty, resists weather, and complements nearly all building styles.
While you’re in the process of deciding which flashing material to install, aluminum vs copper flashing, don’t neglect the importance of hiring a licensed contractor. Workmanship is the final ingredient to any successful roof flashing installation project.