We’ve moved a long way from Alex Higginbotham’s original extruded gutter guard design. Extrusion has certain parameters on the tolerances in what you can do in its design.
- Frames are thick because you just can’t go very thin in the extrusion process. The thinner you go, the more brittle you make the product. Metal or plastic is forced through a die to create an extruded gutter guard. By forcing the material in one direction, all the molecular strength in the product is also in this one direction.
- When extruded metal is bent, it becomes permanently stuck in this position; there is no memory of metal like you’d find in a roll formed product. If you try to bent it back; it is more likely to break in two. This isn’t a benefit for a gutter guard. In fact, for more than 100 years, you haven’t seen products made like this, it’s a manufacturing technique best used for other purposes.
- Gutter guards need to expand and contract in tandem with the gutter below. Expansion and contraction are major issues when daily temperatures race from one extreme to another like they do in many parts of the country.
- Gutter guards made in this manner need a gap between them to allow for expansion and contraction. They cover this gap with a “finger” of metal, or just leave the gap. When this is done, a path is created for water to travel from the roof to the front of the gutter where it can cause dripping at every seam. Installing the system flat can help this a little, but it opens up another set of problems.
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Extruded metal gutter guards are rigid. No part of a house is ever straight or true. In addition, gutters must drop toward the downspout, increasing the pitch of the gutter as it drops. The more flexible the product, the easier it is to adapt it to the conditions that you’ll find on any roof.
- Profiles can’t be changed. If an installer finds themselves in a position where a fascia mount might be in order, or if the gutter is hung with straps (also called vampire hangers), you can’t add additional bends in the product to adapt it to the installation.
- If the gutter guard slides under the shingles, the gutter guard should in no way impact the original shingle installation. Shingle lift can prematurely age the shingles. You also don’t want to create a new, permanent bend in the shingles to accommodate the gutter guard, you want the shingles to remain flat and parallel to the roof decking.
Roll forming is the most common method of forming gutters – and gutter guards. It makes the most sense to keep the gutter guard as similar to the gutter it’s being installed upon. Ever seen a thick gutter? We didn’t think so, nor do we think you’ll be seeing one anytime soon.