Cleaning gutters is a necessary part of maintaining any home, unless of course you have Leafshield or gutter guard. While many gutter protection systems are not very effective, there are a number of solutions which, using the pitch of the roof fully cover the gutter ensuring the bulk of leaves, bark, gum nuts and other debris simply fall off the roof. While people are becoming aware of the benefits and value of installing these gutter protection systems, one of the most frequently asked questions is : which material do i think is better? aluminium mesh or polymesh?
Before continuing, i will stipulate that this question is in reference to the popular ‘expanded’ or ‘diamond’ style mesh (i do also assist clients with colorbond and stainless steel type mesh solutions). Expanded Aluminium and Polymesh few obvious similarities, so lets look at these first.
The similarities between the diamond/ expanded mesh in aluminium and poly include:
– 15 year product warranty (from a reputable supplier like Tapex)
– 2mm x 4mm hole
– great range of colours to suit most homes
– same installation technique
– will accommodate inspection points
While the main points are similar, there is one major difference between the two (2) meshes. Polymesh is more durable and able to handle impact, while the aluminium mesh is fire rated and is suitable (and legal) to use in bush fire zone rated installations. So basically, if you live in a bush fire zone, you MUST use the aluminium mesh.
The question between the two meshes (if not in bush fire zone) is the durability of the polymesh versus the potential for UV degradation. Aluminium mesh is likely to tear if accidentally stepped on or knocked during maintenance work or when getting on the roof, as well as impact from a hale storm or fallen tree branch. All of these situations i have personally witnessed and while often the damage caused can be spot fixed or claimed through insurance, if not recognised soon enough can lead to leaves entering the gutter and causing blockages.
In terms of durability, there is no doubt that the polymesh does degrade with UV exposure, however given the level of UV stability, this is a very slow process, I have removed polymesh from a roof which was in place for 20 years, and while the mesh was able to be torn, it may have provided service for a number of years longer. I have not as yet been convinced through real world examples to verify the superiority of the aluminium mesh for weathering as it has only been around in its modern form for roughly 23 years.
The other consideration is the final look of the installed mesh. This is often asked as the polymesh is a little chunkier than the aluminium mesh which is noticeably finer. In my experience the initial install is virtually indistinguishable between the two materials. The difference does become apparent down the track as the polymesh will tend to loose its initial form through expansion and contraction through out the seasons. While this can have a nominal effect on the long term look of the product, it is a point of consideration (particularly if the mesh will be noticeable from the ground)
The final consideration is price. Given that aluminium is a more expensive material than plastic, it is logical that the aluminium mesh is more expensive. The final price difference between the two meshes is generally only around 10%. This is because the fixings and installation process is identical so generally the final price difference is only around $300-$400 for an all gutters installation.
So in answer to the question which mesh is better – poly or aluminium? I will have to say it totally depends on the situation. Answering these questions may help determine which is better for you.
Will the installation be in a bush fire zone?
Are there many trees overhanging the house which may drop branches causing damage?
How often will someone get on the roof for maintenance?
Am i hoping the installed mesh will perform for more than 20 years?
How visible will the mesh be from the road or ground level?
The correct mesh for each application depends on individual circumstances and the personal preference of the home owner. If you struggle to make a definite choice for which mesh to choose after asking yourself these questions, it is probably worth saving yourself the extra few hundred dollars and using the polymesh.