With the UK’s unpredictable weather, you can never be truly sure if it’s going to rain. The chances are it probably will, so protecting your home from the elements is very important, unless you want soggy carpets and broken electrics of course! If you’ve got a conservatory, then you may have looked into the best ways to keep it weatherproof. It’s also worth keeping the roof clean with a conservatory roof cleaner.
Fitting lead flashing can be a great way to keep the interior of your conservatory dry and warm. Fitting flashing isn’t difficult and is a lot simpler than a conservatory roof replacement. We also wrote a piece about fixing a leaking conservatory roof, or how you can go about insulating your roof, if these are problems you’re also having.
You can fit flashing yourself if you like to get your hands stuck into a project and have basic DIY skills or a willingness to learn. This guide will talk you through the steps of fitting flashing on your conservatory yourself.
What is Lead Flashing?
You may not have even heard of lead flashing and just know that it is something that should be installed to conservatory roofs.
Lead flashing is a weather-resistant material that is supplied on a roll for easy installation. Its purpose is to weather proof joints in a structure that may let in rainwater into the building. In addition to this, flashing serves another purpose by preventing the formation of mould on the inside of a building.
As you can tell, it’s pretty useful stuff! It gets its name from the lead that is most commonly found in the material. However, you may also find flashing made with other materials such as aluminium, copper, or zinc.
Where Will I Find It?
So you’ve realised that flashing is clearly a necessary addition to your roof, the next step is getting hold of some.
Fortunately, most DIY stores sell rolls of flashing and it’s usually a fairly reasonable price. Depending on the size of your roof, the number of rolls you will require will vary, but it usually comes in rolls with a length of between three and ten metres.
Unless you want to make several trips out to restock on flashing, it’s a good idea to measure the area that you will be covering and taking these measurements along with you.
Flashing comes in various thicknesses, the thickest offering the most protection and being considered a heavy-duty option. You should use the thickest flashing in flat areas or other areas that you believe rainwater will collect easily. When purchasing your flashing, be sure to pick up some sealant too.
Where Is It Actually Used?
Understanding the structure of your conservatory makes it easier to identify areas where flashing should be fitted.
As a conservatory is essentially an extension that connects to the outer wall of your house, steps need to be taken to prevent rainwater from entering through this joint.
Depending on the size of your conservatory, this area can be fairly large which means there are many opportunities for leaks to occur. Flashing is also used in other areas where brickwork and the roof align.
Lead flashing is also used in other areas of building construction and isn’t just something that exists solely to weatherproof conservatory joins.
Your home may already have areas of lead flashing if you have a chimney then lead flashing may have been used to create a weather proof seal around this. It is also commonly found in areas with piping or around areas with openings such as doors and windows.
What Do I Need To Fit Roof Flashing To My Conservatory?
As well as the flashing and sealant, you will also need some additional tools. If you haven’t got a conservatory ladder, then it may be an idea to buy or borrow one from someone that you know.
Depending on the height of your conservatory roof, you may be able to use a step ladder for the whole process. If you have a higher roof, however, you will likely need an extendable ladder.
Unfortunately, without a ladder, this job is nearly impossible to do. Due to the nature of conservatory roofs not being designed to take the weight of a human, you won’t be able to climb up on the roof to install the flashing. Whilst up there, it’s also worth checking your conservatory gutter brackets, checking for any issues that may need replacing.
You will also need a tool for cutting the flashing to size. The best tool is a sheet lead knife, this is specifically designed to cut this type of material cleanly and features a hooked end to provide a smooth cut when cutting sheet metal.
These tools can sometimes be tricky to find, so if you can’t find one don’t panic. You can use a standard utility knife to cut the material but be aware that it may blunt the blade quickly. Aviation snips are probably a better alternative and these are fairly readily available in most hardware stores or DIY shops.
Finally, you will need something to remove the mortar. This can be as simple as a hammer and chisel, or you can purchase a mortar raking tool. You’ll also need to pick up some additional mortar to replace the old mortar that you’ll be removing.
However, some people choose to just use sealant instead of mortar, whereas others prefer to use both mortar and sealant to fit flashing. Using just sealant can be cheaper and means you are working with fewer materials.
How To Fit Lead Flashing On Conservatory
It is essential that you take your time when fitting flashing to make sure that you get it right. Don’t rush the job as you need to be sure that you’ve created a watertight seal. Following the steps below can help you get it right.
1. Mortar Removal
Removing the mortar between the brickwork and conservatory roof is an essential part of the installation. You’ll need to either use a hammer and chisel to remove the mortar to a depth of approximately 15 to 20mm. Ensure you remove mortar on all areas where you want to add flashing, including above windows and doors that back on to an external wall.
2. Roll Out The Flashing
Although some people prefer to measure the flashing with a tape measure and cut it to size beforehand, the easiest way to roll out the flashing across the conservatory roof frame. Once you have done this, you’ll see where you need to cut the material and fit the flashing line.
Once you have lined up the flashing then you can reapply the mortar and seal it down across the edge of the roof frame. Ensure that the area is sealed properly and take care when you do this. If you apply a poor seal then leaks may still be possible.
If you are fitting flashing on a sloping roof that slopes parallel to the exterior of your house then you’ll have to use a different method.
This is because it will be more difficult for you to isolate a line of the mortar due to the slope and instead you’ll have to remove the mortar in stages. You should remove it stages until you reach the area where the exterior wall meets the frame.
This also means applying the flashing in stages too, so you’ll need to work in smaller sections. Sealing and fixing the flashing to the frame remains the same however, you’ll just need to refill the mortar as you go along.