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GAF Report: The Truth About Gutter Covers and Shingles

covers and shingles

In GAF’s May 2011 Steep Slope Technical Report, Gutter Covers and Shingles, the largest roof shingle manufacturer in North America (they make both GAF and Elk shingles) addressed the issue of roofing and installing gutter guards.

Gutter Covers and Shingles
Covers and Shingles won’t void your roof warranty, particularly if your manufacturer has a letter to back this fact. The gutter guard will also work better with less maintenance when it’s been angled, just like your roof.

Since it’s home show season, we’ve heard from several of our dealers that gutter covers companies selling other types of gutter guards are making the point that installing under shingles will void your shingle warranty, destroy your roof or is just plain wrong to do in the first place. They’ll try to convince you it just doesn’t make sense to install a leaf gutter filter this way. It makes us wonder what they’re doing. Are they trying to cast doubts to bring your attention to their gutter guards and shingles? Or are they making you aware of a valid issue?

Is what they’re saying actually true? We think it’s a great reason to call in the MythBusters team (our boys, who watch the show religiously, would whole-heartedly agree!). But maybe we don’t have to go that far.
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Keep in mind that if you've seen or heard this, you're getting this message from a salesperson whose goal is to, well, sell. We suggest getting the view of the experts.

What does shingle giant GAF have to say about the issue in their technical report, "Gutter Covers and Shingles"?

First, they acknowledge two different types of products related to gutter covers and shingles, Do-it-Yourself (DIY) and professionally installed. They make the point if you install gutter covers yourself, don't attempt it unless you get installation instructions from the manufacturer. They note that they prefer professionally installed products that are installed by someone familiar with good roofing practices.

The Truth About Gutter Covers and Shingles

If you're considering professionally installed gutter guard covers, GAF notes that everyone has their own specific application instructions that must be followed to obtain their maximum benefit. They then go on to say, "in almost all instances, the products are installed following good roofing practices and do not have an impact on the roofing manufacturer's warranty."

They suggest avoiding the following situations:

  • penetrating the shingle with a fastener to hold the gutter cover in place
  • removal and replacement of shingles for installation
  • removal and elimination of drip edges
  • installation under the underlayment
  • placing the gutter cover under the felt underlayment
  • significant bending of the shingles during installation

They also specifically answer the question, "Does installing Gutter Covers affect my [roofing] warranty?" No, is the answer. They note that the GAF Limited Warranty only covers the shingles' manufacturing defects and does not cover the gutter guard covers or damage due to their installation.

Do you hear stony silence from anyone? Thought you might. This myth has been busted, at least by some gutter covers. Several products DO fasten by penetrating the shingle for their fastening system, so do your homework and verify this point before choosing a system to install.

MasterShield Gutter Covers and Shingles

MasterShield installs by attaching to the front lip of the gutter with stainless steel screws. This is the only place where fasteners are used, other than at our endcaps.

Our first step is to slide the product up under the shingles (which minimizes lifting the shingle) between the starter course (the row of shingles you can't see) and the first row of shingles (the row you see). The system is not attached to the roof in any way but "floats" in this space.

All of our dealers carry a copy of our letter from GAF, approving our gutter guards installation methodology.

Generally, we find the product doesn't extend far enough up under the shingles to break the first and second row of shingles' seal. If this is necessary, GAF describes how best to address the issue right in their letter to us.

Our installation methodology does not require nailing down anything or removing the critical drip edge, and we encourage our independently-owned dealers to follow GAF best practices.

How Do I Avoid Shingle Lift?

One of the most important considerations of our installation methodology is avoiding permanent shingle lift. It's one reason why pitching the product consistent with the general pitch of the roof is encouraged.

The part of MasterShield that slips up under the shingles should not cause the shingles to bend or change how they currently lay on your roof, i.e., the back fin of MasterShield should stay on the same plane as the sub-roof. Thick, extruded products can't do this and often angle the shingle away from the subroof.
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Thanks, GAF, for weighing in on gutter covers and shingles. Boys, Myth Busted!

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