Flashing is a construction detail used to seal and protects joints in a building from water penetration. The joints created by the intersection of the roof and roof-mounted structures and projections, such as parapets, hatches, skylights, chimneys, vent stacks, or towers, are among the most vulnerable areas of roofing systems. They constantly expand and contract in response to changes in humidity and temperature. The greater the number of such projections, the greater the potential for serious leaks. Flashing is used at these intersections to keep rainwater from leaking into the building. It makes joints at these junctions watertight, while at the same time allowing the natural expansion and contraction of materials to continue. It operates on the principle that, in order to penetrate a joint, water must work itself upward against the force of gravity, or in the case of wind-driven rain, would have to follow a tortuous path during which the force of the wind would be dissipated.
Flashing is usually made of rust-resistant metal—galvanized steel, aluminum, or copper. Galvanized sheet metal is most common, but aluminum and copper find occasional use in specialty situations. Copper flashing is usually custom fabricated for use with copper roofs.
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