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What Is Drip Edge, and Does My Roof Need It?

Written by Carol J Alexander

Published on February 29, 2024

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What Is Drip Edge, and Does My Roof Need It?

An essential part of any roof, learn why a drip edge is important and choose the right type and material for your home.

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A drip edge is a vital part of a roof system that protects other components from water damage – and you probably don't even realize it's there.

In this article, we look at what a drip edge does, the different types of drip edges, materials, and whether you can install one yourself.

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Drip edge terminology

Drip edge

Metal strips installed along the eaves of a home to divert water into the gutters

Type C drip edge

Also called L-style, metal bent at a 90-degree angle

Type D drip edge

Also called T-style, metal bent in a T shape

Type F drip edge

Similar to a Type D but with a longer vertical side.

Rake edge

Metal strips installed along the rake edge of a home to protect the wood components from wind-driven rain

Gutter aprons

Synonym of drip edge, but most often referring to a Type F

Underlayment

A waterproof fabric that lays between the roof sheathing and the shingles

What is a drip edge on a roof?

The drip edge comprises strips installed at the roof's edge to divert water flow into the gutters and away from the sheathing and fascia board. Typically made of strips of metal, drip edges also come in vinyl.

The International Residential Code requires underlayment to cover the drip edge along the eaves and the drip edge to cover the underlayment along the rake edges.

What is the purpose of roof drip edge?

When water flows off a roof, it's supposed to fall into the gutters, then flow through the downspouts and away from the home. When not properly channeled, water infiltration from runoff compromises the entire house. The drip edge is specifically designed and shaped to channel that water.

When rainwater falls behind the gutters instead of into them, it backwashes under the shingles and compromises the roof deck and fascia. After years of exposure, these wooden components rot away.

Types of drip edge profiles

The different drip edge profiles: type C, type Z, type F, and type D

Drip edge flashing comes in several different shapes that are named after letters. The three most common profiles of drip edge are C, D, and F. However, a few have more than one name or letter, which we list below.

Type C (L Style)

Type C roof drip edge is formed in an L shape with a 90-degree angle. One side of the L attaches to the roof deck. The other side hangs vertically and may have a slight flange bent outward at the edge. If so, it's called a Type Z drip edge or an L Style with drip.

Type D (T Style)

The Type D drip edge is shaped like a T. Alternate names include D-metal and T Style. Like the Type Z, it has a flange along the lower edge. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) recommends this drip edge profile for asphalt shingles because it directs water further away from the roof edge than Type C. 

Type F

Type F drip edge is similar to Type D, except the vertical side is more extended and covers the roof deck and more of the fascia board. It offers increased protection against blowing rain and channels water into the gutters.

Types of drip edge materials

Typically, drip edges are made of corrosion-resistant metal and vinyl, and both materials are acceptable, code-wise. Here are the most common materials used for drip edge roof flashing.

  • Aluminum – While not as durable as steel, aluminum drip edge doesn't corrode and comes in multiple colors.

  • Galvanized steel – Steel must be galvanized to withstand corrosion. Galvanized steel drip edges cost about the same as aluminum but hold up better in strong winds.

  • Copper – When it comes to roofing materials, copper is always the most costly. However, the copper drip edge doesn't corrode and is highly durable.

  • Vinyl – Vinyl and PVC don't hold up along the roof as well as metal, so roofers recommend those materials for above windows and doors.

What are gutter aprons and rake edges?

A graphic identifying a rake edge on a roof

The roof's edge at the gable end of the home is called the rake. A rake edge is the flashing that protects this wooden board from water.

A gutter apron is simply another term used for drip edge. However, some contractors limit its use to refer to a Type F profile.

Can I DIY replace my own drip edge?

Current building codes require a drip edge to be installed with a roof. So, unless your roof is pre-2012, you should already have one in place. However, if you need a roof repair or are installing a new roof, you'll need a new drip edge. But can you do it yourself? That depends.

The drip edge is easy to install when part of a total roof replacement, but retrofitting it under existing shingles gets complicated. You don't want to compromise the integrity of the existing shingles, and you must be comfortable working on a ladder. For those reasons, we recommend calling a roofing professional for your drip edge installation.

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Frequently asked questions

The drip edge runs along the sides of the home with gutters. The rake edge runs along the rake or gable edge of the roof.

If you have a shingle roof, yes. The International Residential Code states, "A drip edge shall be provided at eaves rake edges of shingle roofs."

A Type F drip edge has a longer side to accommodate installation over the shingles of an existing roof during a roof over. Also, if your roof doesn't have a drip edge and you want one, there are ways to retrofit it. We recommend you consult a professional roofing contractor for this project.

A drip edge is a type of metal flashing. Flashing is a broader category that includes strips of metal around chimneys and skylights, plumbing vents, and in the roof valleys.

Written by

Carol J Alexander Content Specialist and Subject Matter Expert

Carol J Alexander is a home remodeling industry expert for Fixr.com. For more than 15 years as a journalist and content marketer, her in-depth research, interviewing skills, and technical insight have ensured she provides the most accurate and current information on a given topic. Before joining the Fixr team, her personal clients included leaders in the building materials market like Behr Paint Company, CertainTeed, and Chicago Faucet, and national publications like This Old House and Real Homes.