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I have 5" k-style gutters and am attempting to install guards on them myself. I picked up samples of 2 different styles at my local big box store; both of these are advertised as fitting 4", 5" and 6" k-style gutters:

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I tried installing both samples, just as a dry run (I want to see which one I like better). I watched a video that suggested I shove the guards underneath the bottom-most (meaning, closes to the gutter) layer of shingles.

So first I tried the white metal wire mesh type:

enter image description here

I was able to get this one installed but only because I happened to pick a spot where there were no staples/nails. I was able to snap it into the outer lip on my gutter, and it seems like it installed properly, but again, only because I lucked out on that particular section of roofing.

The second one presented 2 problems: (1) this time I did happen to hit a nail/staple and so I couldn't slide it up underneath the bottom layer of shingles all the way, like I did with the first sample. And (2) the lip on this sample is different than on the white wire mesh one, and it doesn't want to snap underneath the lip of my gutter.

enter image description here

For one, I'm worried about the whole "slide the guard underneath the bottom layer of shingles" thing. Wouldn't that result with the shingles popping up from backpressure applied by the gutter lip? How should I be installing both these samples, and what do I do with the weird lip on the 2nd one?

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    You may have the plastic one upside down? I'm fussing with the wire mesh ones myself. Like you, the first one went in with no interference, causing me to buy more. To find out the same issue. I'm assuming I can trim it with a tin snips. But haven't tried it yet.
    – DaveM
    Oct 5, 2021 at 3:51
  • FWIW, I just got my roof, gutters and gutter guards. The ones I got (supplied by the roofing company that installed everything) look exactly like the metal ones you have, except black instead of white (so matches the shingles instead of matching the gutters). Remains to be seen how well they work. Oct 5, 2021 at 15:16
  • I've used both, the plastic ones with the fine mesh for a couple of years, and the white aluminum ones you've shown. The white plastic ones work good, for a while. But because you're supposed to mount them with the mesh down, things like pine needles, maple spinners, and even granules from roof shingles get lodged between the plastic and the mesh. And, the mesh starts to detach from the plastic over time. I've only had the white aluminum ones in place on parts of the gutters for a year or so. They do a good job of keeping everything out of the gutter except for shingle granules.
    – SteveSh
    Oct 5, 2021 at 19:34
  • (Continuation). Though the 3 cluster pine needles get stuck in the openings, they can be pulled out without having to remove the gutter guard.
    – SteveSh
    Oct 5, 2021 at 19:36

1 Answer 1

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These gutter guards do go under the bottom layer of shingles. There should be no nails as low as you seem to be indicating with the plastic guard installation attempt.

It's possible that you've slipped the guard between the wood roof deck and the tar paper underlayment and hit a staple holding the tar paper down. If that's the case, then pull it back out and carefully get it above the thin black tar paper, but below the shingle. If you're 100% positive that you've got it between the tar paper and the shingle, then someone has incorrectly installed your roof.

At the bottom edge of the roof, there should be 2 rows of shingles. The first row is installed upside down (with the tabs pointed toward the ridge), then nailed down above the dotted line. This line is the exposure line that helps keep the shingles in line and tells the installer how much of the tab to expose. The next row is installed directly above the upside down row, but with the tabs pointed down toward the gutter. This is the row you see. If you're really hitting a nail at that location, then someone improperly nailed down that shingle row.

Fortunately, this is not a difficult situation to fix, it's just a royal pain to mess with.

  • You'll want to work on a dry day to avoid getting water everywhere and because wet stuff (like a ladder) is slippery.
  • You'll want to work on a sunny day when the shingles are warm/hot so they're flexible and won't break.
    • If you don't see a warm day coming and really want to get this done, I'd suggest a heat gun to warm up the shingles. You don't need them scorching hot, just warm enough to bend easily instead of being stiff. If they're stiff, they'll break when you try to lift them.
  • With a wide, flat pry bar, gently lift the bottom of the top course of shingles so you can see the upside down course below it. You should see a nail here.
  • Now that you know exactly where the nail is, put the pry bar below the bottom shingle, push it up to the nail, then gently start prying upward while pushing inward.
    • You want to be very gentle to get the pry bar under the nail head so you do NOT tear the shingle.
    • Once you've got the nail head lifted a little, you should be able to push the shingle down the shank of the nail, leaving the head exposed.
    • You can now put the pry bar directly under the nail head and pull it.
    • It's not 100% necessary, but it won't hurt to squirt a little bit of roofing cement/tar into the nail hole in the bottom shingle. The kind that comes in a tube that you put in a caulk gun is probably the easiest and neatest to deal with a situation like this. I say "neatest", but let's be honest, there's nothing neat when it comes to using roofing tar. Wear old clothes. Expect you'll get that tar in unexpected places. Know that it will never come out.
  • With the nail removed, you should be able to install the gutter guard
  • There should not be any reason to attempt to reinstall a nail here. The nails that you cannot see (because they're covered by the tab in the row above) that hold down the visible row of shingles are also through the starter course of shingles and are holding it down as well.

One would hope that this is the only place where a random nail got put in the wrong spot. If you come across others, repeat the process.

If you do tear shingles, ideally they should be replaced. However, you can get away with sealing the tears and "gluing" them down with copious amounts of roofing tar if you really need to. You'll probably be OK for the winter (or spring, if you happen to be in the Southern hemisphere), but you'll want to replace them sooner rather than later. Hire the job out if you don't feel confident, but know that with a little practice, you'll get the hang of it. The more times you try and mess it up, the more practice you'll have!

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    Good answer. But easiest thing to do if you hit a nail that shouldn't be there is mark the spot on the guard and make a cut with tin snips to slide it past the nail.
    – DMoore
    Oct 5, 2021 at 15:09
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    What's the fun in that, @DMoore? That is, actually, a good point, but if the OP is hoping to return the sample guard that he doesn't want, then cutting it up would make that difficult. Of course, the retailer may not take it back once it's been installed and gotten dirty after a few days of rain anyway...
    – FreeMan
    Oct 5, 2021 at 15:17
  • I just installed a small batch of these (black) and judicious use of probing with a small prybar before trying to insert them worked well, the prybar was popping some of the melt tabs. No clipping for nails was required. I did notice that they would occasionally get hung up on the transition off the end of the drip edge. A little more loosening and wiggling would get by that.
    – DaveM
    Oct 8, 2021 at 16:47

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