A pipe boot is a type of roof flashing used around plumbing exhaust pipes that exit through the roof. Pipe boots for asphalt-shingled roofs typically come as either plastic boots with a neoprene gasket, designed to fit snuggly around the pipe or as lead pipe flashings that cover over the top edge and tuck into the pipe. Though there are many other pipe flashing options, such as copper boots and retrofitted flashings, lead or plastic are your number one options in most residential roofing applications.

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Most roofs installed in North Georgia over the last 20 years were installed with plastic boots and neoprene seals. Plastic boots are much cheaper and in most cases, one size fits all. Plastic boots first came into popularity among roofers as an answer to some common problems with lead boots, such as rising costs. If you walk outside and look up at your roof (typically in the back), you will most likely notice a few 1”-3” pipes exiting your roof. If these pipes have a black flashing at the bottom, you have plastic boots.

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Pipe boots being used by many roofers in the Atlanta area these days have a huge problem. The neoprene seals that are meant to act as a gasket around plumbing pipes are dry rotting during the intense summer heat and falling to pieces. When a homeowner contacts us with a leak issue, I can almost guarantee that in most cases, the leak is occurring around the pipe boot.

Another common problem with plastic boots is the actual boot itself can start to curl at the bottom edge and pull up and away from the roof. This curling causes nails to pull out of place and potentially forms roof leaks. Another thing to consider when using plastic pipe boots is the type of plumbing exhaust pipes that exit through your roof. If your home has older cast iron pipes, you will need to use lead boots for two different reasons:

  • The cast iron pipe reacts with the neoprene seal and breaks down the seal prematurely.
  • Cast iron pipes are not smooth-walled pipes, and as such, the neoprene seal doesn’t properly seal to the pipe.


Lead boots have been in use for decades and most have stood the test of time. Lead pipe boots will outlast most asphalt roofing products and provides reliable security when it comes to making sure your roof is watertight. The main disadvantage to lead boots is that they are more expensive.

Another very rare problem with lead pipe boots is squirrels can sometimes chew on the boot and cause holes to form. If your home has had problems with squirrels in the past, you may want to make sure your roofer covers the exposed lead with paint or mastic to prevent squirrels from chewing on the pipe flashing.

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Since pipe boots are one of the most common failures of any roofing system, it is important to consider your options when selecting materials for your new roof. Plastic boots with neoprene seals are commonly used on most new roofs in the Atlanta area; however, these boots require maintenance of the seals about every 7 to10 years to ensure proper performance of your pipe flashings. Lead boots are more expensive, but provide a maintenance-free option that will last the lifetime of your roofing system.

Originally published at: https://fowlerhomesrestoration.com/plastic-pipe-boots-vs-lead-pipe-boots/