How To Install Lead Boots (and Why It's Important)

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How To Install Lead Boots (and Why It’s Important)

How To Install Lead Boots (and Why It’s Important)

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Have you heard about lead boots in roofing? Well, if you’ve seen those metal things that stick out of people’s roofs, they’re roof boots and essential to your roof system


You may not think they’re essential, but roof boots are crucial to keeping water out of your home. There are several types of roof boots, and we’re here to tell you what a roof boot is, the different types, how to fix any leaks and the costs, how long it’ll last, and how to install lead boots in roofing


You don’t want to get a roof boot that won’t last you because you don’t exactly want to be up on your roof fixing it when it leaks. Especially not in the middle of winter. 

How To Install Lead Boots In Roofing (and Why It’s Important)

  • How To Install Lead Boots On Your Roof
  • What Is A Roof Boot
  • Types Of Roof Boots
  • 3 in 1
  • Split boot
  • Lead boot
  • Siliconized rubber
  • Plastic
  • Differences Between Metal And Lead
  • Why Roof Boots Leak And How To Fix It
  • How Much It Costs To Fix A Roof Boot


Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.


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How To Install Lead Boots On Your Roof

How you install a lead boot in roofing will come down to the type of roof. If you’re installing a roof boot over a vent and underlying shingles, the contractor should install the lead boots on top of the shingle below the pipe. 


The top half of the roof boot will lay directly on the underlayment, and the shingles above the pipe will overlap that top part of the roof boot. This is where you’re installing the shingles after the roof boot. 


Make sure you install the full width of the shingles over the pipe. Not doing this can lead to holes, which will mean your roof will leak. 


Once you’ve made sure the roof boot is fit around the pipe, pop four caulked nails into the pipe and shingles. Depending on the type of boot you’re using, you will have to make sure you’ve caulked them to avoid any leaking. This is why you’d need to use caulked nails to keep them in place long-term. 


It may be worth embedding a strip of mineral rolled roofing under the roof boot on a low-sloped roof. 


What Is A Roof Boot

A roof boot, which you may know as a pipe boot, is a flashing that goes around the base of pipes or vents coming out of your roof. They’re installed because it keeps water away from these pipes, which keeps your house dry. 


They’re a crucial component of your roof system; without them, you can be guaranteed your roof will leak, especially if you live in wet weather. 


Types Of Roof Boots

Several different types of roof boots are available in the market. 


3 in 1

This type of roof boot fits all three pipe sizes and can be altered. It’s the cheapest option, at around $5-$15, and will last about 20-25 years. The benefit of a roof boot like this is that you don’t have to know exactly how much your pipe measures.


You can take out the rings to go over the different pipe sizes. A roof boot like this one from Eastman will fit 1-1/4 inch, 1-1/2 inch, 2-inch or 3-inch pipes. Be careful when installing it, though, as it’s easy to break the seal. 


Split boot

Also known as a zipper boot is typically used on older houses with an electrical mast stemming from the roof. The split is because when the masts need to be replaced, it’s easy to take these off.


The roof boot wraps around the pipe and, once attached, looks like a zipper. With some sealant around the pipe, this should last about 20-25 years and will cost you around $80, like this one by Residential Retrofit


Lead boot

This is the most common type of roof boot used because of its longevity. It can last the life of your roof shingle, i.e. 50 years. With a lead boot, you will have to know the pipe size before you order them, as they come fitted. 


When installing them, your contractor will slam the boot down on your roof a few times to ensure that once the bottom is down, it scrunches up and takes on the roof’s slope. 


The pipe will then be cut and folded inside the pipe. Water will only go inside the pipe instead of anywhere else, like leaking into your home. This one from Eagle, will set you back about $30


Siliconized rubber

Another type of roof boot is a siliconized rubber one like this from Flashers. It lasts less than the lead, as it only lasts 35 years. There’s a part that slides inside the pipe to make sure that water stays inside. They’re easy to install. 


Pop them over the pipe, some shingles around it, and cover them with sealant. These will set you back about $85



The last type is plastic, which we do not recommend for various reasons, but mainly because they last for a short time. Especially in areas with intense summer heat, these plastic roof boots will start falling to pieces, resulting in leaky roof issues. 


A common problem with plastic boots is that they curl at the bottom edge over time and start pulling away from the roof. This causes the nails to pull out of place, which then causes holes in your roof, leading to leaks. 


Differences Between Metal And Lead 

Ultimately, the type of roof boot we’d recommend is lead boots in roofing. But we’ll talk you through the differences between metal and lead. Remember, we do not recommend a plastic roof boot. 


First, metal roof boots are great because they can be laid flat and come in various sizes. They’re a great option as they’ll last the life of your roof. You have to make sure it’s caulked, and you’d have to check it every few years to ensure there’s been no holes or separations. 


On the other hand, lead is very pliable but has to be made to fit. You don’t have to worry about caulking because of how they’re installed. The water runs inside the pipe and not outside. 


Why Roof Boots Leak And How To Fix It

As much as you try to protect yourself from leaks, roof boots can leak, and one of the most common leaks to an overall roof is actually due to the roof boots. You tend not to see this as often in lead boots in roofing, but for other materials, as the roof boot ages, leaks occur as the roof boot because damaged, has failed, or reached the end of its lifespan. 


The best way to fix a roof boot leak is to replace the whole thing. This is because it’s more cost-effective to return it in the long term than trying to fix the damaged part. Once cracks form and water starts running into your house, it’s time to call a contractor and replace it to add more longevity to your home. 


How Much It Costs To Fix A Roof Boot

As mentioned above, the cost to fix a roof boot is going to come down to the cost of replacing it. This will depend on factors like your roof’s pitch, how easy it is to access, and how many roof boots need replacing.


For an average residential home, you could be looking at between $250-$550 to replace the roof boot, but this will change based on how much your contractor charges for their time.


Now that you know more about roof boots and why we prefer lead boots in roofing, remember it’s important not to skimp on buying a cheap roof boot – because this will lead to headaches later down the line. Invest in a quality roof boot, and have a contractor install it.


This way, you know that the contractor will install the roof boot correctly and the contractor will use the proper sealant and caulking. Roof boots are a crucial component of your roof system, especially when preventing leaks.


If anything were to happen over time, look at replacing them rather than repairing the roof boot to extend the lifespan of your roof.  

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