Gutter Apron vs. Drip Edge: What’s the Difference?

Posted on July 18, 2023

Estimated Reading Time : 6 Min.

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Gutter Apron vs. Drip Edge: What’s the Difference?

Roofs are exposed to the harsh elements of nature and hence need robust protection. Two such protective elements, namely the gutter apron and the drip edge, often become points of discussion in the world of roofing. While seemingly similar, these two components differ in functionality and installation. 

Let’s explore the difference between a gutter apron vs. a drip edge, to better understand their roles, pros and cons, and overall differences.

Getting To Know The Drip Edge

The drip edge is designed to direct water away from the roof and into the gutters. But the function of a drip edge goes beyond just water management. It protects the roof from potential moisture damage, safeguards the fascia board, and prevents the uplift of shingles during high winds. It generally has a T-shaped design and is typically installed along the rakes and eaves of your roof.

Digging Deeper: What Constitutes a Drip Edge?

Drip edges are typically made of non-corroding metals like aluminum and galvanized steel. The most common shapes or types of drip edges include F, T, and Z, and they are available in various colors to match your roof shingles and gutters.

The Advantages of a Drip Edge

Drip Edge

A drip edge offers several benefits:

Prevent Water From Slipping Behind The Starter Shingles

A drip edge is installed along the roof’s edge to stop water from slipping behind the starter shingles. Roofers install a starter row of shingles provided by the manufacturer, and the drip edge ensures their long-lasting integrity and protects the roof deck and interior below. 

Seal The Builder’s Gap

The builder’s gap is a space between the rafters and the fascia board, typically 1.5 to 2 inches wide. It occurs when the horizontal and vertical parts of the roof don’t cover the edges tightly. While it can be used for ventilation in some cases, it often becomes an entryway for pests, rodents, and rainwater. Many drip edges seal this gap, preventing unwanted elements from entering.

Prevent Ice Dams

When snow melts on a roof, water begins to trickle down, and as it reaches the roof’s edge, it freezes, forming ice dams. The weight of these dams causes the roof and gutters to sag. Moreover, they block water flow, leading to leaks in the shingles below. A drip edge effectively directs water into the gutters, preventing it from pooling on the roof’s edge and refreezing. 

Combat Wind Damage

Strong winds make shingles brittle over time and can tear them off the roofline. A drip edge plays a crucial role here. It keeps the starter shingles tightly attached to the roof, minimizing wind damage and maintaining their integrity.

The Drawbacks Of A Drip Edge

The primary disadvantage of a drip edge is the code specifications, which make it unsuitable for old roofs. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult a professional to ensure adherence to local building codes when it comes to the drip edge.

Now, let’s understand what a gutter apron is, how it is different from a drip edge, and what its pros and cons are for homeowners.

Understanding Gutter Aprons

Gutter Apron Vs. Drip Edge: What’s The Difference?

When debating the difference between the drip edge vs. gutter apron, roofers often prefer using a gutter apron during re-roofing projects. The gutter apron is a longer, L-shaped metal structure installed along the roof’s edge. It extends into the gutter, acting as a bridge between the rooftop and the gutter system. Similarly to drip edges, the primary role of a gutter apron is to direct the water runoff from the roof straight into the drainage system, preventing it from trickling behind the gutters or splashing onto the siding.

Digging Deeper: What Constitutes A Gutter Apron?

A standard gutter apron comes as a 10-foot strip, about 2 to 4 inches thick. Constructed primarily of aluminum or steel, it can be custom-sized to fit the dimensions of your roof and gutter system. Available in various colors, such as bronze, white, black, and brown, the gutter apron can seamlessly blend in with the aesthetics of many home exteriors.

The Benefits of Installing A Gutter Apron

Below are some benefits of installing a gutter apron:

Robust Defense Mechanism

Gutter aprons shield your attic from rapid deterioration. During stormy weather, they ensure that rainwater is guided into the gutter channels, therefore safeguarding the roof deck and the fascia from water seepage.

Extends The Lifespan Of The Gutters

By preventing debris accumulation and minimizing clogs, a gutter apron helps prolong the lifespan of the gutters, reducing the need for costly repairs or replacements.

Minimize Water Damage and Ice Dam Formation

By effectively channeling water into the gutters, a gutter apron reduces the risk of water damage to the fascia board, roof, and foundation and helps maintain the structural integrity of these components.

Cost-Effective Investment

A gutter apron can save you considerable expenses in the long run. By preventing wind and water damage, it extends the lifespan of your roof, thereby averting the need for frequent repairs or re-roofing projects.

Improves Aesthetics

A gutter apron contributes to the overall visual appeal of a house by providing a clean and finished look to the roofline, enhancing the curb appeal.

Prevents Pest Infestation

The sealed gap between the gutter apron and the drainage system helps deter pests from entering and nesting in the roof or gutters, minimizing the risk of infestation.

The Drawbacks Of A Gutter Apron

The main shortcoming associated with a gutter apron is the same as drip edge: the strict code requirements. It’s not advised to install a gutter apron after a roof has been built. Furthermore, if the gutter is located far from the edge of the shingles, a gutter apron may not be necessary.

Gutter Apron vs. Drip Edge: A Comparative Study

While both the gutter apron and drip edge perform the crucial role of directing the water into the gutter, they differ in certain aspects. Let’s evaluate these differences based on shape, installation, durability, and cost.

Shape and Design

While a drip edge typically sports a T-shaped metal design, a gutter apron has an L shape. Moreover, gutter aprons are ideal for low-slope roofs, while drip edges provide superior protection to the fascia board on roofs with a higher pitch.

Installation Process

Both gutter aprons and drip edges are relatively easy to install. However, both require professional installation in order to work efficiently and effectively. You’ll also want a professional’s careful hand when you’re installing a gutter apron. This is because the gutter apron goes behind the shingles, and can affect the warranty on your shingles if done incorrectly. 


Both these systems are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions. However, if installed incorrectly, a drip edge is much easier to correct compared to a gutter apron.

Cost Difference

The cost difference between the gutter apron and drip edge is not significant. Both are affordable and achieve similar results. However, the price may vary according to the material type and chosen length.

Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a gutter apron and a drip edge depends on your specific needs, the design of your roof, and local building codes. Both are crucial protective elements that prevent water damage to your roof and home. However, it’s always advisable to consult a roofing professional before deciding.

Remember, your choice should not just be based on cost, but also on the specific requirements of your home, the weather conditions in your area, and professional advice. Making an informed choice will ensure the longevity of your roof and save you from costly repairs in the future.

If you are looking for a flawless roofing service in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, our team is here to help you.

Free Roofing Consultations and Estimates for Pennsylvania Homeowners

Are you in need of reliable and professional roofing services? Look no further than McClellands Contracting and Roofing! Our expert team specializes in a wide range of roofing solutions, from complete roof replacements to small upgrades and repairs. Whether you require a brand-new roof installation or simply need to enhance your existing roof’s functionality with features like a gutter apron and drip edge installation, we’ve got you covered.

With our dedicated and experienced professionals, you can trust that your roofing project will be handled with the utmost care and precision. We prioritize quality craftsmanship, using only the finest materials to ensure long-lasting durability and protection for your home. Contact us at (412) 353-5660 to schedule a free consultation and estimate on your roof and gutter service in Pittsburgh, PA.

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