Oak trees are dirty. Choosing the best gutter guards for oak trees should be about keeping out everything they shed. Yet, that’s not typically what people wind up buying.
Towering up to four stories over your home with broad canopies, oaks drop lots of messy debris. People will argue oak debris is worse than cottonwood or pine. We won’t step into this debate other than to say any tree that causes your gutters to fill with leaves, seeds, debris or anything that you have to clean outfalls into our category of the worst trees for your home.
If you have oaks, however, you are dealing with specific debris, so let’s help make choosing the best gutter guards for oak trees hassle-free.
Oak trees start by dropping husks from the buds that will eventually flower. These husks are less than a half-inch in size. They’ll quickly coat the bottom of an unprotected gutter, and if you choose a gutter cover with slits, spaces, or openings of any size, these husks will get in. “But I’m looking at a gutter guard with small holes,” you say. Well, that may be okay for dry debris, but the real issue is wet debris. When it rains, these husks don’t stay rigid, they get soft, which allows them to fit through smaller spaces. This debris flows with water and will get through slots or perforations in most gutter covers. Small, wet debris is a big problem.
As the weeks go by, the catkins, oak tassels – whatever name you use locally – grow. Eventually, they release their pollen, which can wind up coating your roof and gutters. The gutter guard you need has the ability to self-clean this yellow residue. Only the genuine, patented Higginbotham technology found in MasterShield gutter guards can assure you’re getting self-cleaning features built into the product.
After a period, the flowers die and drop in groves. They knit together in clumps and slowly make their way down your roof into your gutters. Tassels fill and clog gutters fast. They become matted and sponge-like when wet or damp. This is the exact reason to avoid gutter covers for oak trees that are flat or virtually flat – this matted mess will create a solid surface over your gutter covers. The best gutter covers for oak trees will pitch with the roof so that rather than creating a shelf over the gutter, you create a path under the debris that pulls water directly into the microfilter system.
Think of this like water hitting a book. When water hits the front cover, flat, it can’t get through the surface. It rolls forward or backward over the book. If this was your house, it means water runs over the gutter covers to the ground or flows backward behind the gutters – both bad situations. In the second “pitched with the roof” scenario, water hits the side of the book with the pages. What happens? Water slides between the pages, giving it many more paths to follow. This way, even if there is debris on the gutter cover, it has a better chance of filtering into the gutter below.
To note, there is a pale, fluffy dust that accompanies oak tassels. You might find it coating a few sections of your gutter covers, and it occasionally concentrates in sections. This dust can sit on the cover and water will naturally want to flow over it, taking the path of least resistance. It’s not your gutter cover failing if this happens, it just takes a long time for this stuff to work its way off the system. Given the filter’s Teflon-like properties, a quick brush off removes it all.
Additionally, oak tassels can hang off your gutter guards (or your gutters) looking like dirty Christmas tinsel. If you’re not partial to this look, we recommend waiting until it’s down and then brushing it off your roof at the end of the spring. This can easily be done from the ground with an extension pole and brush at the end. This also gives you the opportunity to get the fluffy dust off the system at the same time. Once done, your gutter guards should perform like new.
The best gutter covers for oak trees have to deal with different issues in the fall. In addition to dropping leaves, oaks drop acorns. The combination of both clogs gutters fast. Since the best gutter covers pitch with the roof, it’s only natural to think an acorn will roll right over the edge of such a system. There’s no shelf to trap it or other debris.
Filter quality is also important here. Decomposing debris is very acidic, and you may live close to a coast. Many gutter covers have chosen lower-grade filters that rust and fail over time because they are less costly to the manufacturer. But as a homeowner, a product with a low-grade filter means you’ve purchased something with inherent properties that won’t let it self-clean. For instance, if you choose a lower-grade stainless steel (304 vs the 316 surgical grade we use in MasterShield), you’ve just installed a filter with natural magnetic tendencies. Those threads will start to attract and hold microscopic pieces of metal. It will start both the clogging process and rusting process. You’ve also installed a filter that becomes like your hair with split ends rather than perfectly smooth. Why is that bad? Each split is a place to catch and trap debris.
As with any gutter, flexibility is important. Rigidity isn’t good because anything that can hit the gutter covers can potentially tear the filter or leave dents in the product. Some systems are strong but strong and rigid. Flex strength is a different approach to the point and the right one for gutter covers. Think of the Aesop fable or the quote from Confucius to explain this point: “The green reed which bends in the wind is stronger than the mighty oak which breaks in a storm.” Flexibility outperforms brute strength.
Being flexible is critical for more than just tree branches dropping on the system. Flexibility extends into expansion and contraction of the product, which, when you think about it, you’ll want moving at the same rate as the gutter it’s installed on. Too thick gutter covers, ones made of a dissimilar material like plastic, won’t give you the best protection because they won’t expand and contract in harmony with the gutter. What happens? They warp down the entire gutter run or have to rely on design features that are less successful at pulling water into the gutter and shedding debris.
Where do you find these features for the best gutter covers for oak trees? You’ll find some combination of a few of them in about six readily available products. The only place you’ll find all of them is in MasterShield, the gold standard of gutter protection. Why settle for partial protection when you can keep all the hassles of oak trees from ever being a concern again?