Can you paint lead flashing?

UK Home Improvement

Can You Paint Lead Flashing?

Lead flashing is commonplace at homes across the UK, and is a fundamental material used during the construction process.  Sometimes, homeowners may want to paint lead flashing in order to improve its aesthetic, match it to a property’s colour scheme or simply to update its appearance. 

If this is something you’re considering then it’s important to know if you can paint lead flashing, and the impact of doing so. 

In this blog we’ll explore the topic of painting lead flashing, outlining everything you need to know to keep this part of your home’s exterior in the best condition. 

What is lead flashing?

Lead flashing refers to the thin, malleable sheets of material that can be found sealing joints and gaps on your home’s roof, walls and other areas. Made from lead or a lead alloy, the purpose of the flashing is to create a watertight seal that will stop water from entering your property and causing a leak. It is incredibly durable, waterproof and weather-resistant, making it ideal when it comes to protecting your home from water leaks. 

Most typically, lead flashing can be found around chimneys, roof valleys, joints and any place where water could potentially seep in. 

Can you paint lead flashing?

Painting lead flashing is not as straightforward as painting other parts of your home. While it is possible, it’s not always advisable. 

This is because lead reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere and contracts with heat. These reactions can cause cracking to occur and make the paint lift, making your flashing look far from aesthetically pleasing. As well as this, it’s also harder for paint to initially adhere to lead substances. 

With this in mind, many homeowners avoid painting lead flashing. 

However, there are still a number of things you can do if you’re determined to use paint, or if you’re looking for an alternative solution. We’ll go into further detail in the next sections. 

Alternatives to using paint

As mentioned above, if you want to paint lead flashing it can cause some problems. Luckily there is an alternative. 

Using patination oil is a great way to give your lead flashing a new look without causing the potential problems of painting it. Patination oil is a protective substance that is used to coat a variety of metals such as copper, brass and, of course, lead. 

Unlike paint, patination oil can stop oxidation and maintain your flash leading’s sleek appearance, making it a great choice for surfaces that are exposed to outside elements. The oil acts as a barrier to the metal from the atmosphere and is a great choice when it comes to ways to coat your flash leading. 

How to paint lead flashing

If you’re committed to painting lead flashing, there is a process you should follow to give yourself the best chance of achieving good results. 

Clean the surface 

Before you do any painting, you need to ensure the flash leading is clean. It’s normal for dirt, dust or any other type of debris to be on the flashing, and you can use sandpaper or a wire brush to clean it before beginning. 

Apply primer 

Next, apply a primer to the lead flashing. A primer will make it easier for the paint to adhere to the lead’s surface. Make sure to choose a primer that is suitable for metal, Zinsser is considered the go-to brand for this type of job. Follow the instructions on the tin and leave the primer to dry. 

Select the right paint

You’re almost ready to begin painting. But before you get stuck in, you need to make sure you have the right paint for lead flashing. There are a number of options available, but we’d recommend using an oil-based paint. This type of paint can adhere to metal surfaces easier than other kinds, can provide a barrier against moisture and cope with adverse weather conditions. 

Apply the paint

Now it’s time to get painting. Use a brush or roller and evenly apply the paint over the lead flashing. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and do multiple coats if necessary. 

In addition to these guidelines, it’s always worthwhile using gloves during the painting process. Lead is a toxic metal and the less contact you have with it the better.


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