Gutter guards keep leaves and debris from clogging the gutters. While they don’t eliminate the need for gutter cleaning, they do help reduce the number of times a year you need to maintain them, especially if there are a lot of trees growing on your property. Clogs can cause gutters to overflow, flooding the basement, damaging the siding, and creating the ideal place for mold and mildew. Before deciding to add a type of leaf protection to your gutter system, here are some useful things to know about gutter screens.
Two Main Types of Gutter Screens
The two main types of gutter screens are perforated and mesh. Since most kinds of screens are installed underneath a row of shingles, check to see that the installation process doesn’t void your roof warranty.
Perforated Screens: Perforated gutter screen are made of metal or PVC. Whether they are metal or plastic they typically are attached to the lip of the gutter (at the front) and they slide (at the back) underneath the first row of roof shingles. A perforated screen has holes – diamond and square being the most common shapes – and can be spaced differently depending on the manufacturer. For example, if you have pine trees and maples trees, select perforated screens with small holes for your gutter system. Perforated screens can last anywhere from 10 to 25 years; metal is more durable than PVC.
Mesh Screens: Mesh screens are constructed from very fine metal mesh designed to fit tightly over the gutter channel and snugly against the roof’s edge. They can be installed in a number of ways including sliding the screen underneath shingles, allowing the weight to keep the screen in place; snapping one side of the screen into the gutter lip; and placing the screen underneath the roof shingles, then securing it to the gutter lip with screws or tape. Since some brands of mesh screens are more DIY-friendly than others, gutter contractors advise that they be installed by professionals to prevent gaps and bending. The life expectancy of mesh screens are from 25 years to a lifetime.
Gutter Screens versus Gutter Guards
Often gutter guards are used interchangeably with gutter screens, but they are essentially two different products. Most types of gutter screens or leaf protectors can be used with the existing gutter system. However, gutter guards cover the gutter system, leaving a small gap for rainwater to flow through. For the gutter guards to be effective, they must be compatible with your gutters. Gutter guards tend to be more expensive while metal perforated screens and mesh screens are known to be just as effective in keeping debris out for a more reasonable cost.
Gutters still need to be Cleaned
When debris isn’t blown away, leaves, twigs, and blossoms can sit on top of the screens. As the organic materials decay these particles can land in the gutters and collect as silt or sludge. If airborne seeds take hold, plant life – anything from grasses to trees – can grow in the gutters, weighing them down and/or warping them. If debris is allowed to accumulate, wet materials might cause metal screens to rust. Gutter screens should be checked periodically to prevent debris from sitting on top of the screens for long periods of time. When the gutters themselves require cleaning, the gutter screens will need to be removed and then reattached.