Why Rain Gutter Covers Shouldn’t Be Made From Plastic


Ever notice everything associated with your roof is made from metal?  That the only thing that you’ll find near your roof made from plastic are some brands of rain gutter covers?  Most brands of gutter covers are made from metal, similar to the metal used in gutter coil or flashing.  There are several reasons rain gutter covers should be made from metal and not plastic.

Plastic rain gutter covers can be in the form of curves, sponges, louvers — even micro filtration, like MasterShield.  The product design is critical to the rain gutter covers’ performance, but the material the covers are made from are just as pivotal in long term quality and effectiveness.

Your Rain Gutter Covers Should be Similar to Flashing Used with Asphalt Shingles

According to the National Roofing Contractor Association’s website (NCRA), flashing materials for asphalt roof shingles should be made of sheet metal. Flashings for asphalt shingle roof systems fall into four categories: perimeter edge metal, penetrations, valleys and vertical surfaces.   Nails must be steel or corrosion-resistant metals.

Metal rain gutter covers that slide beneath the first course of shingles are no different than perimeter edge metal.  There is no mention in the asphalt shingle section of the NCRA website of using any plastic products near an asphalt shingle roof, the only materials they talk about are metal ones.
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Rain Gutter Covers Impacted by Asphalt

Here’s the asphalt leaching out of the roof shingles on our display, no different from what happens on your roof.

According to shingle manufacturer GAF, it’s because asphaltic roofing products like shingles can impact plastics.  They go on to say shingles leach asphalt, which can ooze onto plastic or metal.

Asphalt stains plastics that are cellular in nature.  It swells the plastic pores, making them difficult to clean. When in contact with asphalt, PVC plasticizers can soften, weakening the fundamental structure of the plastic product.

Common Elements are Attracted to Each Other

While you won’t hear other rain gutter covers mention this, we will.  Oil is a common cause of rain gutter cover failure.  Worst of all, oil is attracted to plastic.  Next time you’re washing the dishes, test this yourself.  It’s much harder to clean off oil from plastic containers than other things, like a ceramic dish.  Like asphalt, oil naturally leaches from your shingles.  It permanently coats any plastic it comes in contact with.

Plastic will not naturally self clean of oil.  Over time, dirt, silica and pollen and will adhere to the plastic, creating a residue that attracts bigger debris, like pine needles, seeds, and leaf particles.  You won’t find this happening with metal rain gutter covers, because the attraction doesn’t exist.

Plastic Rain Gutter Covers Expansion

According to the PPFA, a 100-foot run of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) will expand as much as 4 inches when the temperature increases 100º F.  In some parts of the country, that can happen between morning and midday. Given how much plastics can expand, you’ll have to take what’s called the expansion coefficient into effect with plastic rain gutter covers.

Even over the course of an install that starts in the morning and finishes late in the day, plastic rain gutter covers cannot be guaranteed to stay where they were installed  Unless you allow gaps for this expansion and contraction, each piece may buckle or bend if there isn’t sufficient room for the product.  When the rain gutter cover sections contract, they may leave noticeable gaps between pieces where debris is allowed into the gutter below.  For some systems that claim they allow nothing in, this can be a particular problem.

UV Light Makes Plastic Rain Gutter Covers Brittle

Ever notice that as vinyl siding gets older it starts to get brittle?  If something hits it, it can crack under virtually no pressure? That’s because the plasticizers and oil used to make the product evaporates, faster when it’s exposed to sunlight.  Plastic rain gutter covers face towards the sun, so they can become brittle and fragile faster than siding.  UV stabilizers can be added to the plastic, but they’re not a permanent solution, they just slow down the issue for a while .  A brittle plastic gutter cover won’t fair as well if anything like a branch should hit it, and will be more easily damaged as time passes.

These same issues do not apply to metal rain gutter covers.  While paint may fade, the product remains in tack with full functionality.

Metal MasterShield

The issues with plastic rain gutter covers are the main reason industry innovator Alex Higginbotham switched his original technology from plastic to metal.  He’d seen plastic buckle and warp in the sun, despite being assured it wouldn’t happen from experts.  In addition, since his product was a two-piece system comprising a base and a filter, he needed to be sure the filter would expand and contract in tandem with the base, which he didn’t find possible in plastic.

Enter MasterShield, the latest technology from Alex Higginbotham.  It’s comprised of a surgical grade, stainless steel filter with copper technology over an aluminum body.  Given you expect rain gutter covers to keep out all of the debris any of your trees will drop, MasterShield delivers what you expect:  let water in, keep debris out.  For more information on how it works, click here.
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