Many are unaware that lead work on your roof is equally as important as the roof covering itself? Have you ever noticed a stain on the ceiling and had a look for broken tiles but cannot see anything to blame? It is probably down to the lead flashings!
Lead sheeting has been used as a building material for centuries. Its popularity is due to its durability, reliability and its water-resistant properties. Lead still remains the most popular choice of material for roof and chimney flashings. It is versatile, pliable and easy to work and bend without the risk of cracking and splitting.
Lead sheeting is primarily used to seal and protect the roof against leaks. Its function is to seal the joints where the roof meets a vertical surface. Its anti-corrosive properties make it resistant to water, UV rays, salt and frost. It’s also sound resistant so to a certain extent it can help protect your home from outside noise.
There are 4 types of lead flashings:
Apron flashing is an edge of lead sheeting widely used in the UK. It is commonly seen on the front and back of chimneys, the adjoining brickwork on flat roofs and where a sloped roof meets the vertical wall of a house or outbuilding. It’s used to re-direct water away from the vertical wall of a building or chimney stack and onto the adjoining sloped roof.
Step flashing is used when the pitched roof abuts the vertical wall of a building, chimney stack or conservatory. The outer edge of lead sheeting is cut to resemble to steps. Its purpose is to prevent damage to the brickwork and allow water to flow freely down the join without pooling.
Chimney flashings are used around the base of the chimney shaft to prevent water penetration in the inner flue, improve the airflow and efficiency of the fire and to stabilise the chimney stack. Chimney flashings also act as insulators, helping to prevent heat loss from the chimney and roof.
Soakers are installed between each course of tiles and are not visible from the outside. Lead sheeting is ideal for soakers as it can bend and stretch easily into shape without affecting the lay of the tiles. Lead soakers are bent and cut into ‘L’ shapes and inserted under the tile courses to catch any water between the tiles and directing down the roof.
Repairing Lead Damage
Due to its durability and strength, Lead lasts more than 3 times longer than other flashing material, It is recyclable and can be re-used. However, over time, damage can occur. Weather deterioration, oxidisation and loose fixings are all reasons to repair or replace lead flashings. Damaged flashings can let in water and cause damp and rot if not repaired. Lead work repairs and replacements should always be carried out by a professional, approved roofing contractor.