Tiger stripes, sometimes also called zebra stripes, are an ugly phenomenon that can mar the appearance of any gutter. As their pithy name implies, tiger stripes are irregular black streaks that form on the side of gutters and siding. The best way to prevent them from causing staining or other damage is to remove tiger stripes without delay or to prevent them in the first place.
What Causes Tiger Stripes on Gutters?
Contrary to popular belief, tiger stripes are not the result of a poor paint job or protective finish. Affecting gutters more than roof tiles, tiger stripes are caused by the buildup of debris inside of gutters and spilling over the side. This accumulation can include anything: dirt, pollen, chimney fumes or other airborne pollutants, tree sap, insecticide, and mildew. When combined with moisture, either from dew or rain, this debris forms a slimy black or brown sludge and trails down the side of gutters. These stripes may even continue down the fascias and siding.
The Trouble with Tiger Stripes
Sometimes when dirt or other debris sticks to a home, it is concealed by dark and textured brick or asphalt tiles. Gutters, on the other hand, catch no such break. Because gutters are usually white or silver, tiger stripes are plainly obvious and even eye-catching. The contrast is a sure way to reduce a home’s curb appeal.
A perhaps worse problem is that if you do not remove tiger stripes in a timely manner, they can actually stain your siding and gutters. This happens in one of two ways: either the dark grime seeps into the material and permanently discolors it or the area around the stripes is bleached by regular sun exposure while the material under the stripes is not. Either way, it is important to remove tiger stripes quickly to avoid permanent evidence of them.
How Do You Get Rid of Tiger Stripes on Gutters?
As ugly as they are, it can be tempting to try and remove tiger stripes with all the elbow grease you possess. This is actually not a good idea. If you attack tiger stripes too vigorously, you actually risk damaging your gutters and siding. For this reason, you should not use a hard or metal brush. A soft brush or rag is a much better choice.
Take it easy as you apply the cleaner to your gutters. Too much force will reduce your gutter’s glossy finish to a soft satin and may even wear the aluminum too thin. While you should be careful, you should also be thorough, inspecting the inside of your gutters for stripes as well. They may have started on the inside before running over the outside edge, or run down both edges at the same time.
If you are nervous about climbing up on the ladder to remove tiger stripes, look for a wand or other extension to help you reach your gutters from the ground. Safety should always come first, and if you are really nervous, you can reach out to the professionals to make your tiger stripes a thing of the past.
What Is the Best Cleaner to Remove Tiger Stripes?
The cleaner you use to remove tiger stripes is very important. You want something that will cut through the dirt and grime without damaging your gutters or siding. As a general rule, a non-abrasive household detergent cleaner should do the trick. If you decide to use a commercial gutter cleaning solution, make sure it doesn’t have ammonia, paint removers, or other abrasive solutions.
That being said, sometimes you need a little extra “umph.” More problematic stripes should be treated with more heavy-duty cleaning products as long as they won’t erode the aluminum. If your tiger stripes contain mildew or mold, they will need to be treated with germicides like bleach to make sure they don’t perpetuate damage or respiratory problems.
Preventing Tiger Stripes
An even better alternative to removing tiger stripes is preventing them in the first place. Covering your gutters so debris rolls off instead of accumulating is a great start. Another is cleaning your gutters (both inside and out) at least once a year. Pressure washing your gutters is an effective way to do so while saving you a lot of time and energy. There is an art to pressure washing gutters. Usually soft washing is recommended to avoid damaging soft roofing tiles. Alternatively, you can stick to washing them by hand, but pressure washing (especially professional pressure washing) is a more efficient and powerful way to keep tiger stripes at bay.