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Is a Drip Edge Necessary on Your Roof?

October 11th, 2023 | 5 min. read

Is a Drip Edge Necessary on Your Roof?

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Your roof is a puzzle of different components and materials that piece together to protect your home. No matter how small, every piece of the puzzle is crucial.

So, imagine my surprise when more and more homeowners ask if a drip edge on their roof is necessary. While surprising, I’m glad they asked because there's still time to avoid big problems that go beyond the roof. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners understand the importance of each component and material on their roof. That’s why I’ll break down why a drip edge is necessary on your roof. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • What is a drip edge?
  • Is a drip edge actually necessary on your roof?
  • Why would a roofing contractor leave a drip edge off your roof?

What is a drip edge?

A drip edge is metal flashing installed at the edges of your roof (rakes and eaves). Its main job is to prevent water from getting underneath your roofing components. 

black drip edge on rakes of a roof

Without a drip edge, water rots out both your fascia board and roof decking once it gets behind your gutters. Not only does this cause structural damage, but it’ll also lead to water getting into your home. 

Now, there are circumstances where a drip edge is pre-bent aluminum fascia instead of a piece of metal flashing. While rare, rake molding also serves as a drip edge on homes built before the roofing industry used aluminum fascia.

If your home has either one, you don't need a drip edge. However, this is because there’s already protection on the edges of your roof. 

Is a drip edge actually necessary on your roof?

Unless your home fits into the two circumstances above, your roof absolutely needs a drip edge. Not only does your roof need a drip edge to be properly installed, but it’s actually required per the International Residential Code

drip edge on rakes of a roof

According to code R905.2.8.5 of the 2018 IRC: “A drip edge shall be provided at eaves and gables of shingle roofs.” 

This code clearly states that a drip edge must be installed on the edges of your roof to ensure your home is up to code. Not only is it necessary, but it must also be installed correctly. 

drip edge being installed on a roof

The rest of code R905.2.8.5 states: “Adjacent pieces of a drip edge shall be overlapped a minimum of 2 inches. A drip edge shall extend a minimum of a ¼ of an inch below roof decking and extend up a minimum of 2 inches. Underlayment must be installed over the drip edge along the eaves and under the underlayment on gables.” 

Considering all this, it should be clear your roof must have a drip edge. Without it, your roof will have problems and your home will not pass an inspection.

Why would a roofing contractor leave a drip edge off your roof?

Because a drip edge is required, it must be replaced when getting a new roof. Unfortunately, some less-than-reputable roofing contractors don’t do it right or leave it off entirely. 

Some do it to cut corners to save time or are too lazy to install it correctly. But the more common reason is to leave it off completely to lower their estimate to beat out the competition. 

This commonly happens to homeowners looking for the lowest-priced roof replacement in the area. Once a bad roofer knows you’re looking for a low price, it’s like blood in the water. 

They’ll look for ways to bring their prices down, and one of the first things to exclude is a drip edge. I understand cost is a big pain point when getting a new roof, but it’s considered an investment for a reason. 

The last thing you want is to spend thousands of dollars on a cheap roof just to spend thousands more on repairs before needing a new roof altogether. 

What other components does your roof need?

Now you know that your roof absolutely needs a drip edge. A drip edge is crucial to prevent water damage at the roof edges and is needed per building codes.

And remember, don’t look for the cheapest roof possible to avoid being taken advantage of by a bad roofer. But while a drip edge is a crucial component, it’s just one piece to the puzzle. 

There are even more materials and components that make a roof do what it does best, protecting you and your family. Unfortunately, leaving just one off causes big and costly problems.  

That’s why you need to know the rest of the components a roofing contractor should include in your roof estimate. 

Check out 9 Materials Included With Your Roof Replacement to learn the rest of the important roofing materials that make up your roof.

roof cost calculator

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