One of the most important aspects of building a new home is waterproofing. Water intrusion can cost you thousands of dollars in repairs due to mould, rot and structural damage. So new home construction must use design elements and materials that keep out destructive moisture. One of those design elements is the use of flashings in key structural areas.
What are Flashings?
Flashings are thin, waterproof sections of material designed to protect seams in building construction from water intrusion. Flashings are typically used in places where surfaces are joined that are susceptible to leakage. Roof protrusions such as chimneys or vent pipes are common locations for the use of flashings. Walls adjoining roofs, gutters, and window and door frames are also routinely protected with flashings.
Choosing the Right Types of Flashings
Flashing materials vary considerably to suit a wide range of architectural designs, cost considerations, and compatibility with adjoining materials. The sheer number of choices can seem intimidating at first blush, though they can be easily narrowed down by determining which are best suited to your particular structure.
Commonly used flashing materials are metal, plastic, or rubber. Metal flashings are commonly made of aluminium, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper or zinc. Consideration should be made when choosing the type of metal, to ensure that it will not react chemically with adjoining metals where the flashing will be installed, which can lead to corrosion.
In addition to providing a barrier against water penetration, flashing material should also integrate as well as possible with design elements of the structure. It should be malleable enough to work into the contours and crevices of the structure where flashings are needed. In areas where flexibility is required, such as at expansion joints, flashings should be made of rubber, or rubberized asphalt.
Protecting Your Property from Water Damage
In new home construction, areas where flashings are installed may be visible or hidden. Wall flashings embedded within the walls, for instance, won’t be easily inspected for proper installation once the walls have been closed in. Other aspects of flashing installation likewise are difficult to assess, such as whether the flashing material used is compatible with the surrounding structure to avoid corrosion or discolouration. Whether you’re in the middle of a brand new construction project or planning an improvement project for an existing structure, it’s important to choose the right flashings for the job in order to protect your structure from water damage. Still, it’s not always easy to know which products are best, or even if your builder has ensured proper installation if you don’t have a working knowledge of the building trades yourself.
To alleviate these issues, a licensed professional building inspector can evaluate flashing installation during the build to verify that the work and materials are compliant with building standards. Failure to do so during construction will not only prevent inspection of many vulnerable areas while they are still accessible, but flashing is much more expensive to replace after the build than to install correctly in the first place.
It’s worth keeping in mind that wherever you see flashings on a structure, these are places that are most prone to water intrusion. Any defects in materials or workmanship in these areas should be a red flag to the home owner and corrected immediately. Don’t let your expensive investment be damaged by water due to poor workmanship or incorrectly chosen materials. Work with an experienced, professional building inspector who can work as a neutral party, ensuring your home and your financial interests are well protected.
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