Rubber roofs, or EPDM roofs (short for Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), are flexible rubber membranes that come in large rolls and are typically installed on flat or unusually shaped roofs. The material is usually available in black or white on black. White is better for its ability to stay cool due to its reflective characteristics. It is also more energy efficient. Energy efficiency does have its drawbacks, however, it tends not to last as long as black rubber.
Rubber Roofs and Gutter Guards
Some gutter guards can work with rubber roofs but micro mesh gutter guard inventor Alex Higginbotham doesn’t suggest installing a gutter guard with a fine mesh filter with them. When exposed to sunlight, rubber roofs slowly decay. White rubber roofs also get chalky. They don’t leach oils the way a standard shingle would, but instead the rubber dries over time and tiny pieces, virtually invisible, slough off rubber roofs. These pieces can get trapped in even the finest openings of a stainless steel filter in a micro mesh gutter guard. While tar and moss can easily be cleaned off a filter, rubber roof particles are much more difficult to clean. By avoiding rubber roofs from the start, a homeowner won’t wind up complaining the gutter guard they’ve just installed has quickly failed or has become impossible to clean.
Since like materials are attracted to each other, petroleum-based gutter guards should be avoided with rubber roofs. This means anything made of plastic or PVC, because it’s a similar enough material to the rubber in the roof. Like fine filtered gutter guards, rubber particles can also get trapped in sponge-style products, causing them to clog. The same thing can happen to any plastic or PVC based product.
An issue you’ll have to address with rubber roofs is gutter installation. The membrane will often have to be hung over the edge of the roof and be formed into a drip edge so that water is more likely to flow forward and not wrap around the edge of the membrane. If it flows back onto the fascia or anything else made of wood, it can cause damage. When a drip edge is formed with edge of the rubber roof, care should be take that the gutter is hung below the drip edge. This is to ensure that if the gutter becomes clogged, the roof edge won’t sit in any water that winds up pooled in the gutter. If it does sit in rain water, the water would be inclined to wick up the membrane. Water can get into the sub roof in this manner and cause expensive damage.
If you have rubber roofs and absolutely must have a gutter guard, your best option might be a standard gutter screen or a gutter guard that sits relatively flat with louvers. It will need to have openings large enough not to get impacted by any rubber particles that come off the roof over time. Just be sure not to sit it too flat or it will trap debris (which is easy to do in conjunction with a flat roof). Be prepared to check the gutter frequently as well, debris will get through, or wind up sitting on the gutter guard, particularly in the spring.