Lead flashing has been a mainstay in roofing for centuries, known for its durability and weatherproofing capabilities. However, the use of lead in construction, particularly in roofing, has seen a substantial decline. This shift away from lead flashing is due to a combination of health concerns, environmental impact, and the development of effective alternatives. In this blog, we’ll explore why lead flashing is no longer the go-to choice for roofing and how we can help you find a safer, more sustainable option.

Health and Environmental Concerns

One of the primary reasons for choosing lead alternatives is due to lead’s health and environmental impact. Lead is a non-renewable resource, and its extraction and use can lead to the release of harmful toxins into the environment. When lead is used in roofing, it has the potential to leach into the ground during rainfall, contaminating soil and water bodies. The use of lead in roofing, particularly in flashing, has been scrutinised because of the potential for lead particles to be released into the environment and water systems. The disposal of lead-based materials must be managed carefully to prevent contamination, as lead is classified as a hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). These environmental concerns have resulted in stricter regulations around the use of lead, pushing the construction industry to seek environmentally friendly alternatives.

The health implications of lead exposure are also well-documented. Exposure to lead can cause serious health issues, including neurological damage, especially in children and pregnant women. Workers handling lead in construction are at the most risk of exposure, leading to increased safety protocols and health monitoring, which adds to the overall project cost and complexity. These health risks have prompted both regulatory bodies and the construction industry to reduce its use in buildings, especially in residential areas.

Cost and Availability

Whilst lead is valued for its durability, it is also a relatively expensive material compared to some modern alternatives. The cost factor, coupled with increasing regulations and the push for greener building materials, has made lead less attractive for roofers and contractors. Moreover, the high value of lead has made it a target for theft, adding unwanted risk and potential costs for property owners – another reason why it is becoming less appealing! The availability of lead can also be subject to market fluctuations, further complicating its use in large-scale construction projects.

The Rise of Lead Alternatives

In response to these concerns, the construction industry has seen a rise in the use of lead alternatives for flashing. Products such as self-adhesive membranes, metal flashings (including aluminium and zinc), and composite materials offer comparable, if not superior, performance to lead. Here are several benefits to opting for alternatives:

  • Eco-friendly: lead-free alternatives reduce the release of harmful toxins into the environment.
  • Cost-effective: alternatives are often more budget-friendly than lead, with less price fluctuations.
  • Lightweight and easy to install: many alternatives are lighter and easier to work with, leading to reduced labour costs and shorter installation times.
  • Corrosion resistance: materials like aluminium and zinc are highly resistant to corrosion, improving durability.
  • Recyclable: many lead alternatives can be recycled, contributing to a more sustainable roofing solution.

At BS Fixings, we are committed to providing safe, reliable, and environmentally responsible roofing materials. Our range of lead alternative products is designed to meet the needs of modern construction without compromising on quality or performance. We offer a variety of tools and materials, such as Rooftec’s Self-Adhesive Lead Replacement Flashing, Flex EPDM Lead Replacement, and Aluminium Soakers, all designed to replicate the resilience and durability of lead. These alternatives can be used the same way as lead flashing, but offer the added benefits of being cost-effective, eco-friendly, and easy to install.

With tools like Rooftec’s Steel Seam Roller and EPDM Scissors, we provide solutions for securing and finishing the edges of roofing materials, ensuring long-lasting results!

Please feel free to browse our website to find a fantastic selection of roofing products, or contact us on 03330 117818 for more information.