10 things to look for in a gutter guard

The truth about gutter guards is that finding the perfect gutter guard depends on your property’s needs. It’s that simple.

So, what to look for in a gutter guard? To choose the right gutter guard, you might consider:

  1. Gutter guard solution
  2. Gutter guard products
  3. Gutter guard material
  4. Roof profiles
  5. Gutter profiles
  6. Colour-matching
  7. Gutter guard vs ember guard
  8. Commercial vs standard gutter guards
  9. Gutter guard installation
  10. Solar panel protection

Continue reading to look at our gutter guard considerations in more detail and consider how a gutter protection system can benefit your home.

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Gutter guard solutions

integrated plastic gutter mesh

Leaf guards or gutter guards work to reduce gutter cleaning and maintenance with leaf proofing, bird control and prevention, ember guard against ember attack and rainwater harvesting.

Gutter leaf guards also significantly reduce the amount of gutter cleaning for homeowners. This is especially true for trees that overhang the structure. It is essential to select a gutter guard mesh with an adequate hole size to match the surrounding vegetation: pine needle trees need a mesh with small aperture size.

Gutter guards are also an effective bird-proofing solution. It is widespread in new build homes and estates built on green field sites as birds are often displaced from their regular nesting locations and need a new home quickly.

However, older homes are not exempt from bird nesting problems. All houses provide great natural nesting locations: roofs, gutters, verandas, valleys, and even downpipes. These areas offer warmth and protection that birds will take advantage.

Vermin, including possums, rats and mice, commonly nest in gutters and are noisy, especially at night, attracting other kinds of pests and diseases. A strong gutter guard will deter them and force them to seek shelter elsewhere.

Gutter guard saves homeowners and property owners money and keeps people safe on the ground, not risking themselves climbing ladders to clean gutters.

Blocked gutters also overflow during heavy rainfall and can cause foundation problems over time. The gutter will also start to sag with additional weight built up, and over time it produces lulls where stagnate water can sit. Stagnant water also attracts pests such as mosquitoes.

A gutter guard is also used in bushfire protection. It prevents debris in the gutters, an ignition source for embers in a bushfire. An ember guard also keeps the embers off the roof and gutter as those entry points are the most vulnerable in a bushfire.

Order a sample pack with commercial and standard gutter mesh samples. 

Gutter guard products

tuffmesh poly plastic gutter guard

Gutter guard types fall mainly into two categories:

  1. Gutter Guard that lies inside the gutters (E.G. brush gutter guards or foam gutter guards)
  2. Gutter Guard protective mesh is attached to the gutter’s top, either flat or integrated with the roof’s pitch and slope.

Brush gutter guards

bunnings gutter guard

Brush gutter guards sit inside the existing gutters, mostly invisible from the ground. The gutter guard has polyethylene bristles attached to a twisted stainless steel core. Leaf and debris get caught in the strands while allowing water to free flow through the gutters.

While brush guards are inexpensive, they do have their drawbacks, including;

  • More frequent cleaning required
  • Not bushfire rated
  • Not suitable for bird proofing
  • Not suitable for tank water use
  • Not suitable for all types of gutter systems
  • Will need to be replaced more frequently
  • Can attract insects and pests to nest in the bristles

Foam gutter guard

foam inserts gutter guards

A foam gutter guard, also known as foam inserts or foam gutter covers, sits inside the gutter system. It is made of plastic foam, similar to a pool noodle.

While foam gutter guards are inexpensive, they do have their drawbacks, including;

  • More frequent cleaning is required as leaves and debris accumulate on the top edge
  • Not bushfire rated
  • Not suitable for bird proofing
  • Not suitable for tank water use
  • Not suitable for all types of gutter systems
  • Will need to be replaced more frequently
  • Can cause dampness, moisture and water damage in the gutters

 

Mesh Panels

integrated gutter guard

Metal Panels are made of painted aluminium or stainless steel panels with either micro-mesh filters or large holes that filter dirt. The mesh panels sit on the gutter with a screw added to the front lip for a secure install and rest on the roof.

Mesh panels must be installed on sloped gutters so that the panel does not sit flat on the gutters. Any flat surface will prevent leaves and gutters from falling to the ground.

Mesh panels are unsuitable for areas in Australia that undergo extreme weather conditions, especially severe wind or storms. Strong winds lift the panels, making them airborne as the panels are usually only secured to the gutter.

Vinyl gutter guard

vinyl guards

This type of gutter guard is very similar to mesh panels but is made from durable plastic. Vinyl guard style fits directly into the guttering system, often “snapping” into place. It is essential to again install with a slope to prevent any debris from entering the gutter system.

It is a very affordable solution; however, it is not considered durable and should never be used in bushfire-prone areas.

Integrated mesh system

Integrated mesh systems are designed to sit over the top of the gutters and are permanently secured to the roof and gutter. The slope and material prevent leaves and debris from entering and accumulating in the gutter while encouraging them to fall to the ground.

All integrated mesh systems can be fitted to tiled, corrugated, and metal roof types.

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Gutter mesh material

When selecting a gutter mesh for your integrated gutter guard system, you need to consider the features and benefits of each, its purpose and the design and aesthetics of the home. The most common material choice is an aluminium gutter mesh solution. Aluminium mesh is malleable, easily shaped to the roof, and provides bushfire resistance.

Aluminium leaf guard

Aluminium gutter guards can be found in various hole sizes and strengths. At ScreenTech, we supply four types of Aluminium Gutter Guards, including:

  • Tuffmesh Aluminium: A commercial-grade thick gutter guard with medium hole size. It is the product we use on most new homes as its added strength is excellent for box gutters and parapets. Architects also favoured it as the thicker mesh strands from the ground make the mesh appear solid and part of the roof. You can see more information here.
  • Tuffmesh Emberguard: A commercial-grade ember guard product with a 1.6mm hole size and custom-made to each roof. It is the most robust ember guard product available in Australia and was custom-designed by ScreenTech to deal with the most demanding Australian situations. You can see more information here.
  • Guttermesh Aluminium: A standard product with great affordability and various applications such as preventing clogged gutters. You can see more information here.
  • Guttermesh Emberguard: this has a 1.9mm small hole size used where building requirements dictate an ember guard but are not so demanding as to need a commercial-grade gutter guard solution. It is also suitable for pine areas as the small aperture helps ensure pine needles and other debris stay out of the gutters.

 

Polyethylene leaf guard

vinyl plastic gutter guards

For some applications, aluminium is unsuitable as it reacts with another metal. This may be a galvanised roof or application in coastal environments where corrosion is more likely and rapid. For these situations, though rare, ScreenTech offers a range of polyethylene mesh products:

  • Tuffmesh Poly: A strong thick poly mesh mirrors our Tuffmesh Aluminium product. The medium aperture is great at keeping gutters clean even in tropical or torrential downpour areas; however, it isn’t fire-resistant.
  • Guttermesh poly: A thinner gutter mesh product used in various applications to prevent blocked gutters.

Steel Mesh Gutter Guard

In extreme bushfire areas, where the BAL rating is FZ, we use our Steel Mesh Gutter Guard product to protect from ember attacks. In these high fire risk areas, it’s vital to have an ember guard and that all other potential ember ingress points such as vents and holes, including those for utilities, are covered. You can learn more here.

Order a sample pack with commercial and standard gutter mesh samples. 

Roof Profiles

An integrated gutter guard can be installed in any home with any roof type. Be aware that different roof types require other fixtures for integrated mesh systems, for example:

Corrugated metal roofs

  • Mesh
  • Corrugated saddles
  • Gutter Trim
  • Roofing screws

Trimdek® metal roofs

  • Mesh
  • Trimdek® saddles
  • Gutter Trim
  • Roofing screws

Trimdek® metal roofs

  • Mesh
  • Klip-Lok® saddles
  • Gutter Trim
  • Roofing screws

Tiled roof

  • Mesh
  • Gutter Trim
  • Roofing screws for gutters

Gutter system

rain head box gutter gutter guard

Certain gutter guard products are more suited to specific gutter profiles. For example, in commercial and modern architecture, brush, vinyl and foam gutter guards are unsuitable for wide box gutters and parapets.

An integrated mesh guard with a commercial-grade gutter mesh is most suitable for box gutters and parapets but is also used in standard gutter guards.

Many homeowners also wish to leaf proof other parts of the guttering system, including rain gutters, railheads, downpipes, eaves troughs and other water tank collection points. Only an integrated gutter mesh system provides maximum protection as a leaf guard.

 

Colour-matching

Aesthetics is one of the homeowners’ first concerns regarding leaf guards and bird proofing.

Mesh panels, foam, brush and vinyl gutter guards are usually less visible from the ground unless the property slopes. Leaves and large debris can accumulate above the guard, which is less appealing.

An integrated mesh system is visible from the ground; however, the mesh and accessories are colour-matched to Colourbond® roof and gutter colours. Trims are colour-matched to the gutters, while the mesh and saddles (for metal roofs) are matched to the roof.

If you are uncertain about the best colour match for your property, speak to the gutter guard company or installer.

Choosing gutter guard vs ember guard

The main difference between the two guards is the hole size or the space between each intersecting wire mesh. An ember guard must have a hole of 2mm or less to comply with an ember guard’s standards, while gutter guards have no hole size requirement.

An ember guard is designed to prevent ember attacks when windborne embers ignite leaf litter in unprotected gutters. Ember guards protect the opening from burning embers more thoroughly per Australian Standards.

There are two types of ember guards, made from steel and aluminium. Aluminium ember guards are used for homes in 12.5-29 BAL ratings. These BAL standards are specified for new homes as a bushfire proofing measure as per Australian Standard AS3959-2009.

Homes in a BAL rating of 40 or FZ must be made of steel or bronze and are corrosion-resistant. The 2mm steel mesh is perfect and complies with all regulations to suit all BAL ratings of 12.5, 19, 29, 40 and FZ. Steel ember guards have fine apertures that keep pests and small leaves out of the roof gutter.

Commercial vs standard gutter guards

Colorbond gutter guard system

Commercial-grade leaf and gutter guards are suitable for commercial properties and domestic homes. It is easier

There are several reasons why a homeowner or commercial property owner may opt for commercial leaf guards, including:

  1. Commercial-grade products have extended warranties, generally over 20 years;
  2. Thicker gutter guard offers superior aesthetics as the thicker wire mesh strands blend better with the roof profile;
  3. A more robust gutter mesh is best for bird proofing, especially for larger birds such as pigeons, but also to prevent possum attacks.

ScreenTech advises homeowners to always speak with their installer about whether commercial-grade gutter guards are best for their needs.

Need gutter guard installed?

How installing gutter protection affects the build

The installation of a gutter guard can be very simple or complex, depending on the access to the roof during installation. When installed during the build while the scaffolding is still up, any gutter guard solution can be installed quickly and safely in a few hours. Some roof types are more complex than others. For example, tiled roofs typically take longer than metal roof installation.

When installing gutter protection on a metal roof, the mesh is attached to the far gutter edge and fixed to the roof with a metal saddle to ensure the load is spread across the mesh reducing the risk of tears. For a tiled roof, the mesh is tucked under the second row of tiles and silicone is often used to provide a seal.

In Melbourne, ScreenTech recently supplied materials to one of our Melbourne installation partners Aussie Gutter Protection. Getting a gutter guard installed can be done by most reputable roofing contractors or specialised gutter guard companies.

Solar panel protection

solar panel bird proofing

Solar panels also need protection from birds nesting underneath the panels. However, a standard gutter guard is not suitable for solar panels as the wire mesh fixtures will damage the panels and reduces the airflow under the panels.

A solar mesh has a larger hole size allowing optimal airflow and moisture accumulation under the panels. They also use clips instead of screws to fasten the panels preventing damage to the panel’s face.

Always speak to an installer when trying to protect solar panels.

What is the best gutter guard for your design?

The best solutions depend on your situation, budget, and building code. Hopefully, this guide has helped point you in the right direction, but if you would like to talk to an expert at ScreenTech, we are always happy to discuss a project and ensure you get the right gutter guard specified for the result you want. We can work with you on custom gutter guard solutions if needed. We regularly custom fabricate gutter guard mesh for the roof gutter on custom homes and also have the ability to manufacture copper and galvanised fittings for homes with those requirements.

We are always happy to supply architects with gutter guard samples and a detailed architect gutter guard information pack if they would like more information.

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