Do Gutter Guards Attach Under Shingles? We Find Out

Gutters are challenging to clean. You have to get up on a ladder, dig out the debris, and clean the gutters from any mud. This process is arduous. Fortunately, there is a solution in the form of gutter guards. Though many gutter guards will not stop all of the debris from entering your gutter, it will at least cut down on the time you spend cleaning your gutter. But where do you install them?

Many excellent gutter guards call for installation under the first row of shingles, but it is usually not the best option. Installing gutter guards under shingles breaks the roof’s water-tight barrier and can cause water damage. It is typically better to install gutter guards on top of shingles.

Read on to discover how you install gutter guards under your shingles and many other things you might want to know about them. 

Do Gutter Guards or Leaf Filters Go Under Shingles?

As a general rule, for any roof, you should not need to lift your roof shingles to put a leaf filter or gutter guard under your shingles. If you do this, bumps and cracks might form on the shingles, allowing water to get into the roof. More water will get under the shingles if your roof has a valley.

However, if you need to raise the shingles slightly to get a leaf filter on the gutter, then you should lift it only as far as necessary. If you elevate them too much, there will be a pocket where water can get in and cause damage directly to the roof. If you don’t raise them far enough, you will not install the guards correctly. 

Here are some other things that shouldn’t be done to your roof while installing leaf filters:

How Far Down Should Gutters Be From Shingles?

The gutters should be installed against the edge of the fascia and extend 3″ to 4″ past the shingles. The problem with many roofs is that the shingles and the gutter sometimes meet with barely an inch to spare. Many flat roofs or roofs with a steep incline or valley will not have a sufficient gap to place gutter guards without interfering with the shingles.

The shingles and gutter are too close if there isn’t a space of about an index finger between them. You will not be able to attach the guard directly to the gutter. Instead, you will have to put the gutter guard under the first row of shingles. 

Putting the gutter guard under the first row of shingles elevates the shingles off the roof more than they were when installed. This elevation allows water to sneak in under the shingles. When you see mounds or bumps on the shingles, this means that the shingles were not pressed firmly back in place after adding the gutter guard, and there is now water damage under the shingles. 

How To Install Gutter Guards Under Shingles

You would not install gutter guards under your roof shingles in an ideal world, but on top of them or straight on the gutter. However, if you do need to install gutter guards under your shingles, you should use the following types of gutter guards: 

  • Screen Gutter Guards 
  • Surface Tension Guards
  • Fine Mesh Gutter Guards

Follow these steps to install gutter guards under your shingles:

  1. Slide the first half of the gutter guard evenly through the bottom layer of shingles and underlayment
  2. Be careful not to dislodge or loosen the shingles
  3. Keep it as flat as possible, so water can still flow
  4. Put the other half of the gutter guard under the lip of the gutter
  5. Trim at the end to make sure it is the correct length

How to Install Different Types of Gutter Guards

Before buying and installing your gutter guards, you should consider their material composition. The material is crucial as it will determine how durable the gutter guards are and how much debris can accumulate before you need to clean it off.

Three materials make up the composition of gutter guards:

MaterialCharacteristics
Aluminum It can take a beating from debris and is usually the best option
Metal MeshWill protect your gutters from large debris
and does not take granules from roofs out of the gutter
Plastic or FoamTypically cheap, ineffective, and not ideal in most situations

Once you have determined the type of material you will buy, the next step is to consider the types of gutter guards and why your gutter needs to be protected. Some guards are better used to prevent birds from landing in the ditch, while others are perfect for preventing debris from entering the gutter.

There are five types of gutter guards, and each has its ideal installation methods: 

1. Brush Guards

  1. Cut the brushes to fit the length of your gutters
  2. Bend the brush wire around curves and slopes
  3. Make sure the bristles are attached to the bottom of the gutter and go around the whole length.

2. Foam Guards

  1. Cut the guards to fit your roof’s contours
  2. Place the guards under the lip of the gutter
  3. The guards should rest under the rim of the gutters

3. Mesh Guards

  1. Put the guards under the lip of the gutter
  2. Attach any screws (you might have to drill them in)
  3. Snap the end of the guard over the gutter or screw it in
  4. The guards should not be too tight, or the gutters can suffer damage, such as bending and warping from the pressure
  5. Create an end cap to prevent animals from getting into the trenches if necessaryThe gates should not bend in the center

4. Micromesh Guards

You should follow the same instructions as mesh guards.

Some micromesh brands, such as EasyOn, require you to slip the guard under the shingles. However, if you screw it to the fascia, it makes the gutter stronger. These are the best type of guards if you use the right brand.

5. Perforated Guards

  1. Ensure the size of the guards matches the size of your gutters
  2. Put the edge of the guard against the grain of the gutters
  3. Using screws or other adhesives, put the guards into place
  4. The guard should be cut on the diagonal to fit corners
  5. Make sure the guard is not pulling on the gutter to prevent damage

Another thing to check is the size of the holes. If it doesn’t look like rapidly-moving water will be caught by the holes, you should not buy that gutter guard. A simple test to perform is to lie the gutter guards on a flat surface and turn your garden hose to maximum power without the nozzle.

If the water does not enter the holes, your gutter guard will not do the job. The idea is to prevent debris from entering the gutter while draining water through the channel. 

What are the Best Gutter Guards Available?

There are many different gutter guards available on the market. It’s best to decide which gutter guards to buy based on overall costs, the pros, and the cons of installing these gutters. We reviewed 9 of the most popular gutter guards:

Gutter GuardProsCons
Leaf Filter Gutter ProtectionMicro-Mesh gutter guardYou will need to blow debris off of the guards to prevent algae growth
GutterStuff GS10957 Gutter Filter$5.99 per 4 feet, which is a reasonable priceWill not prevent debris from entering the gutter and degrades under continued sun exposure
E-Z Quick Gutter GuardSnaps into placeYou might need to cut it with clippers to fit your gutter
Raptor Gutter GuardCleaning is easy, long lifespan, and is excellent at catching debris, including pine needlesDirt will accumulate on the front end of the gutter and is susceptible to moss buildup
Amerimax Home Products 636025 GuardBigger holes to minimize water flow
No fasteners required
Hard to install
You might need to trim the wire to fit it to the gutter
Amerimax Home Products 86670 Gutter GuardLifetime warranty, mesh filter, insect-resistant, filter out tiny particlesSome water ends up washing over the guards and missing the gutter
FlexxPoint Gutter Cover SystemEasy to removeYou will still need to clean your gutter 
Frost King VX620 Plastic Gutter GuardEasy to cutCan be knocked off by ice
A-M Aluminum Gutter GuardExcellent at capturing a large amount of water, no matter the roof slopeInstallation on turns in your gutter can be tricky

Is the LeafFilter Gutter Guard Brand Any Good?

The LeafFilter brand is not as good as it claims. It claims that “you’ll never have to clean your gutters again,” but many consumers find them to be overpriced. Its sales are also gimmicky. Consumers filed many complaints against the company at the Better Business Bureau. It will also gather debris and act as a shelf that you must clean off. 

The biggest problem that the LeafFilter has is in the winter when the snow melts. Water overflows from the gutters and then pours down below before refreezing. While the company claims that this is due to misalignment of their product, the fact remains that this is a slip hazard and may expose you to civil suits if someone slips on the ice and injures themselves. 

We suggest that you use the following brands as alternatives:

  1. LeafSolutions has accessories for different shapes of the roof (such as an inside corner) and channels that will prevent small debris from entering the gutter.
  1. LeafGuard is also a good brand because it becomes part of the gutter upon installation making it well-attached.
  1. LeafLock has a micromesh that catches larger debris. The only disadvantage is long pine needles can go thorough the filter which ends up into the gutter.

Final Thoughts

Whether installing gutter guards under shingles or installing snap-on guards to cover the gutter, aluminum is the best material for gutter guards. Micromesh is the best type of guard to use. However, some gutter guards will underdeliver or omit glaring errors. Use your better judgment when presented with these claims, and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

When you find the proper gutter guards for your house, it will make a huge difference since you will spend less time cleaning your gutters and more time doing important things. 

Sources

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
DISCLAIMER: The content published on HomeInspectionInsider.com is not professional advice. You should consult with a licensed professional and check local permit requirements before starting any project.
HomeInspectionInsider.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate programs with other affiliate sites. We are compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.