January 24, 2024

Roof Valleys 101

The valley is a key part of a roof. This guide will walk you though ways to instal valleys, educating homeowners about them, and more.

Time to read:
6 Minutes
Written by
Jennifer Cote

Roofs aren't just shingles. There are many different parts of a roof, all of which have their own specific needs when shingling or replacing a roof. Hips, ridges, and peaks are just a few pieces that make up the big picture of a roof. One important part of this puzzle is the roof valley.

In this blog, we're diving into:

  • What a roof valley is
  • Why you should educate homeowners about what a valley is
  • Different techniques to shingle a valley
  • Open vs closed valleys
  • The most common roofing issues that happen in valleys

Brush up on your knowledge of roof valleys so you can be prepped to talk to homeowners next time you're pitching a roof.

Educating homeowners about roof valleys

You may be super comfortable with what valleys are, but your homeowners may not. Taking the time to educate them about this part of this roof is important because:

  • It can help you build trust with them: You're not just selling them a roof — you're helping them understand their roof.
  • Leaks and other issues can stem from roofs: Teaching them what to look for empowers them as homeowners. And they'll be more likely to call you if there are any leaks in the future.
  • Longevity Matters: A little knowledge about roof valleys can go a long way in extending the lifespan of your roof. Educated homeowners make informed decisions when it comes to maintenance and repairs.

With that in mind, let's get into it.

What's a Roof Valley?

A roof valley is the V-shaped metal channel where two roof slopes meet. It's like the intersection of architectural prowess and functionality. Think of it as the unsung hero of your roof that prevents water from finding its way inside.

Without these roof features to direct rainwater and snowmelt down to your gutters, you'd have way more water problems in your attic.

Most residential roofs will have a roof valley somewhere on it. Be sure to point these out to homeowners.

3 techniques to shingle a valley

There are a few different ways you can shingle a valley.

1. Closed-cut method: Neat and tidy, this method involves running shingles parallel to the valley. It's a classic choice that blends aesthetic appeal with efficiency.

There are different versions of a closed cut valley, like the California cut, or a regular cut valley. We'll talk about the pros and cons to closed valleys below.

2. Open-cut method: Shingles are installed with a gap at the valley center, leaving a visible valley line. The valley is oven lined with metal flashing. This method allows water to run off easily and is often preferred in areas with heavy rainfall. We will explore the pros and cons to open valleys later on, too.

3. Woven Valley: For an extra layer of protection, shingles from both sides of the roof overlap in a woven pattern. It's a smart choice for durability and resilience against the elements.

Only roofing professionals should install roof valley flashing or shingles due to their significance in water management.

Woven roof valley on a house with grey shingles
An example of a woven valley

Open vs. closed valleys

The two big types of valleys are open and closed. Each type of valley has its benefits and works best in different environments. Here's what you need to know about the difference between these two.

Open roof valleys

An open roof valley is a design where the roofing material on one side of the valley doesn't overlap the material on the other side. Instead, there's a gap between the two sides, allowing for a clear channel down the center for water runoff. That gap will have metal flashing. A galvanized metal, copper, aluminum, or stainless steel is usually used.

Here's why you might opt for an open valley:

1. Effective water drainage: The primary advantage of an open valley is its efficiency in directing water away from the roof and into the gutters. This design minimizes the risk of water pooling or infiltrating the roofing material.

2. Ideal for heavy rainfall: In regions that get a lot of rain or snow, open valleys shine. The unobstructed path facilitates a swift and unimpeded flow of water, reducing the likelihood of water-related issues.

3. Easy maintenance: Open valleys are often easier to inspect and maintain. Debris is less likely to accumulate in the valley because the metal is smoother than shingles, making it simpler to keep clean and functioning optimally.

Closed valleys

House with a closed roof valley.
The valley on this roof in a closed valley.

A closed roof valley is a design where shingles or roofing material from one side of the valley extends across and covers the material on the opposite side. This creates a seamless, unbroken appearance. Consider the following benefits of a closed valley:

1. Aesthetic appeal: Closed valleys provide a clean and continuous look across the roofline. This design choice is often favored for its polished and cohesive appearance, contributing to the overall aesthetics of the roof.

2. Extra layer of protection: The overlapping of roofing material in closed valleys can provide an additional layer of protection against water infiltration. This can be particularly advantageous in areas with unpredictable weather patterns.

3. Shingle options: With closed valleys, you have more flexibility in choosing shingle patterns and styles. The continuous flow allows for a variety of design options without disrupting the overall look.

Choosing Between Open and Closed Valleys

The decision between closed and open valleys systems often comes down to a combination of functional needs and personal preferences:

  • Climate: In areas with heavy rainfall or snow, an open valley might be the practical choice. In milder climates, where appearance is a priority, a closed valley could be the preferred option.
  • Architectural style: Traditional or classic home styles may lean towards closed valleys for a timeless look, while modern designs might opt for the efficiency of open valleys.
  • Homeowner preferences: Ultimately, it boils down to what the homeowner values more – a sleek appearance or optimal water drainage.

That last point — homeowner preference — is another reason why education is so important. As a roofer, you know better than they do if a closed or open valley system is smarter for their home. Don't just tell them what they should do; Be sure to explain why.

Both open and closed roof valleys have their merits, and the right choice depends on the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner. The roof needs to look good and work well in different weather. It's important to balance how it looks and how it functions.

Common valley problems and how to spot them

An open roof valley that may need to be inspected

If you're new to the industry or a homeowner, there are important things to check in a roof valley. This applies whether you're a roof inspector or a roofer teaching a homeowner how to inspect their roof. Roof inspections are important to detect potential areas of concern before they become full-on issues.

1. Leaking: Look for water stains or dripping during heavy rain. It might indicate a compromised valley.

2. Damaged shingles: Missing or cracked shingles in the valley can be an invitation for water damage. Regular inspections are your best defense against this.

3. Debris buildup: Leaves and debris can obstruct water flow, leading to potential problems. Because of the shape of valleys, they are prone to collecting debris. If leaves collect in the fall and get covered by snow in winter, it could become a bigger problem. When the snow melts, you might discover an issue that you didn't see earlier. Clear out any debris during routine maintenance.

4. Wear and tear: Over time, the valley might show signs of aging. If you notice rusting on the flashing, dissolving or bubbling on shingles, or gaps between shingles and the valley, call a roofing contractor.

Valleys: An important part of a strong roof

Being valley-wise is an investment in the longevity and resilience of a roof. Educate your homeowners, and be sure to take valley inspections seriously.

Measuring valleys with Roofr

Roofr reports help you measure your roofing jobs — including valleys! Our tools also include digital proposals, a CRM, lead-capturing tools and more. Learn more about Roofr and book a demo of our tools here.

For more information about roofs and roofing, check out these resources:

EPDM Roofing: What It Is & Why You Should Care

CRM for Roofers: A Guide

Roofing Square: How to Measure One

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a close up view of a metal roof