Roof flashing is a very important part of a house.
When working on paint colors, I have noticed that houses with newer roofs seem to have more flashing than houses with older roofing.
Roof flashing is now more noticeable than it used to be and that’s not good. I’m sure there are very good reasons for this change, but that doesn’t matter here.
What does matter is how this new flashing can negatively effect the appearance of your house and how you can easily fix the problem.
Roof Flashing Before
On houses over 100 years old up until recently, the edge of an asphalt roof would extend outward about a half inch over the edge of the house. This is how it was everywhere on the house. Here we will focus on the gable fascia / gable rake (really the same thing) since it is more visible. The fascia on the lower parts of the roof (other than the gable) are usually covered up by a gutter.
Notice in the image above that the end of an asphalt roof extends outward just a bit covering and protecting the wood beneath it, as it should. The wood beneath it is called the fascia board or rake of the gable (the fascia board is colored in blue in the image above).
On 95% of old homes a decorative trim called a Bed Mold is attached to the fascia board (the bed mold is colored in red in the image above). Unfortunately, newer homes do not have a decorative bed mold.
Bed molding can be about an inch wide or more and ornate. The addition of a bed molding creates a nice strong look, appearing like it is helping to support the heavy roof and providing a nice finished appearance. Depending on if the fascia was wide enough, the bed mold would sometimes be accented with a contrasting color on a Victorian home. If all were the same color, the bed mold trim would still create a nice shadow line which gives these old homes the character we love.
Roof Flashing Today
On new roofs, they are installing a piece of roof flashing under the edge of the roof that is bent down and covers part of the fascia. On all newer homes the fascia is just a plain board. There is no decorative bed mold on the fascia. It is just a plain boring board as you can see in the image above.
On an old house this roof flashing covers up the bed mold trim depending on how wide it is.
With a wider flashing it would be unfortunate to hide this beautiful piece of trim under the flashing. If the flashing is a different color than the trim color on your house this will look awful.
The flashing will come in either white or brown. If your trim is either of these colors that is fine. If your trim is white and the flashing is brown you MUST paint the flashing white otherwise the fascia will look too narrow to support the roof. Additionally the roof will appear too heavy.
If your trim is painted any color other than white and the roof flashing is white, this white trim (which has nothing to do with the other colors of your house) will stand out and look cheap. You MUST paint this flashing to match your trim color.
It is up to you to inform your painter for they may try to avoid painting flashing and gutters which must be painted when painting your house.
Roof Flashing on a Porch Roof
There is another place that roof flashing has now invaded. It is at the back of the porch roof where the roof meets the house siding. Traditionally the flashing was installed and hidden under the siding. Today the flashing is on top of the siding. That is fine but it must still look like the flashing is behind the siding. This flashing should not be seen for it disrupts the architectural balance of the house.
The solution is to paint it to match the siding. On some homes this flashing really creates a problem by making the area between the porch roof and the windows appear much narrower and unappealing. Click on the above image so you can better see the negative effect flashing can have unless it is painted. Painting it is an easy fix for this and nobody will be able to tell the difference.
Here is another example of a roof installer not painting the flashing. It really looks strange standing out like that. Most painters will not paint the flashing so you must instruct them to.
Metal Standing Seam Roofs
Modern Standing Seam roofs have a different design and the roof wraps around the fascia board, completely hiding it at times. This is not a flashing issue but a roof design problem.
Think of the logic this way. Trim outlines your house and needs to be in proportion to the building. If the trim is too thin then the house will appear weak and lack structure. If the trim at the top of the house is white and there is brown flashing or a brown gutter covering the trim, that trim will appear narrower and therefore weaker to support the house.
This will be addressed in a future article.
Painting Metal Flashing
I contacted two different paint stores and got two different answers to what type of paint to use. If your flashing is old there shouldn’t be any problem just using the house paint you used on the wood. If it is new, it is best to prime the flashing first and then apply an exterior paint that is designed for metal. Your painter will better advise you on this.