You install rain gutters to divert rainwater away from your home. Without gutters, water intrusion can ruin your foundation, your walls, and even your fascia. But once installed, you have to keep an eye out for clogs which can cause even more damage than no gutters at all. If you live in an area with lots of trees and wild weather, your gutters can fill up quickly. One effective way to keep them clean is to install leaf guard systems which help to reduce your maintenance and make cleaning easier.
There are dozens of types and brands of leaf guards available. Each operates differently and needs to be installed by a contractor who understands not only your gutter system but the guards they are installing. Visit Spout Gutter Pros to find local, licensed installers who can do the job right. Click now for a free quote in just minutes!
What Are Gutter Guards?
Gutter guards are any product that protects your rain gutters and downspouts from getting clogged up with falling leaves, pine needles, seeds, and other flying debris. With the guards in place, vegetation slides off the sides of the gutter or is blown off the top, never having a chance to clump up and cause blockages. Leaf guards come in many forms including metal screen guards and mesh guards, brushes, foam, or even plastic. Homeowners like the idea of gutter guards because, while they won’t completely eliminate the need for cleaning, they will definitely lessen the amount of work that’s required.
Pros and Cons of Installing Gutter Guards
While gutter guards are a great invention, they have their pros and cons. Following are some general tips to keep in mind:
- Installation: Gutter guards can be added to existing gutters any time you like. Depending on which type you buy, guards are fairly simple to install and, if you choose the right ones, can save you time and money.
- Reduced maintenance: Leaf guards reduce the need to clean your gutters frequently and lessen the amount of time required to empty them. Leaf guards are designed so that debris will collect on top. Sweeping debris off the top should be much easier than digging into large clumps of soggy mess.
- Prevents nesting: Gutter covers prevent birds and rodents from building nests in your gutters.
- Extends longevity: Gutter guards may help your gutters last longer since water will flow through them rather than pooling and causing rust or back-ups into your home. Pooled water can also stagnate, becoming a breeding ground for mosquitos.
- Rain barrels: Gutter covers improve the flow of rainwater, enabling more efficient collection in rain barrels and filtering out contaminants.
- Melts ice & snow: If your gutters get clogged from ice, not only will the extra weight weigh the gutter down, leading to sagging and pulling away from the wall, but other water may start to pool around the ice, flowing into your home. Heated gutter guards can melt snow and ice dams, freeing you from having to get up on a ladder and protecting your gutters from damage.
- Not infallible: While gutter covers prevent leaves, branches, and large items like pinecones from amassing inside gutters, many guards can’t keep tiny debris like dirt and seeds from getting through. Homeowners will have to periodically clean the covers to keep rainwater flowing.
- Some are expensive: As we’ve seen there are all types of leaf guards, from simple screens, brushes, and mesh, to more sophisticated custom hoods and covers. The installation of some of these higher-end guards can be expensive, costing anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
- Some don’t work: Despite claims and guarantees, some types of leaf guards are more effective than others. Do your homework beforehand and check with friends and neighbors to see which they like before purchasing.
- Can cause sags: Some gutter guards may be too heavy for your gutter systems and will eventually cause sags. Be sure to check if the leaf guards you’re contemplating buying work with your existing gutter system.
- Roof slope: If your roof is especially steep or has valleys where downward-sloping sections of the roof meet, the water can fly over the gutter guard and be completely ineffectual. Be sure to have a professional take a look at your home’s roof before making the investment.
- Gutter trees: Yes, they’re a thing! Tree seeds can sometimes get caught in gutter guard slots and sprout, forming gutter trees. You’ll want to make sure you invest in the right type of gutter guard if you have trees in close proximity to your home.
Types of Gutter Guards
So, you’ve invested in a new gutter system, but you’re finding that it fills up quickly with all kinds of flying junk and you decide you need to add gutter guards. But which kind to buy? There are lots of models on the market and deciding which is best for your home can be overwhelming. Spout Gutter Pros takes a look at the six main types available today and breaks down the pros & cons for you.
Brush Gutter Guards
Brush gutter guards look like giant pipe cleaners that fit snugly inside your gutter, preventing anything from getting inside. The cylindrical-shaped brushes are made of hard polypropylene bristles that are easy to install—you just place them inside your gutters. The spikey material is designed to prevent leaves, needles, and other debris from clogging gutters. People like them because they also keep animals from nesting in the gutter system. But others, who pay close attention to the aesthetics of their homes, don’t like the look of the bristles sticking out of the gutters.
Foam Gutter Guards
Foam gutter guards are manufactured in long pieces of triangular or arch-shaped foam that are designed to slide comfortably into gutters. They can’t be seen from street level. The foam works by blocking leaves and branches from getting into the gutters while allowing water to flow through the foam inserts. Installing foam gutter guards takes no effort at all—you simply place them inside the gutters. But you do need to find the right shape and size to fit your existing gutter system or they won’t work properly. They also tend to clog when debris sticks to the foam’s surface, and they disintegrate easily, requiring frequent replacement.
Mesh Gutter Guards
Most mesh gutter guards are inserted under the shingle edge, snap onto the gutter lip, and are then secured to the gutter with screws. They are designed to cover the entire gutter opening without leaving room for debris to slide in on the sides. They are similar to screen guards in that they have tiny holes which allow water to flow through while blocking leaves and twigs. They are usually pretty easy to install and do their job well. Mesh gutter guards come in standard sizes that fit most gutters and can’t be seen from the street. Their downside is that guards with larger holes can become clogged by small needles and fine debris.
Plastic PVC Gutter Guards
PVC plastic micro mesh gutter guards are popular companions to vinyl gutter systems. They are made of high-quality, rigid white, brown, or black PVC. They lay on top of the gutters or are tucked under the edge without fasteners. They can be cut to any size and come in widths of 5”-7” with lengths ranging from 15’-30’. PVC screens are typically cheaper than aluminum but aren’t as durable. They are easily damaged by falling tree limbs in a storm and can warp or break from heat or cold exposure.
Reverse Curve Gutter Guards
Reverse curve gutter covers direct water over a curved edge into gutters while utilizing gravity to force roof debris to fall over the edge. While the idea is great, they are not as popular as other types because the raised profile is highly visible from the street. Dirt tends to collect on the front of the curve and is hard to clean off. Really good reverse-curve gutter guard systems require little maintenance and do their job. But others can get overwhelmed by excessive water during heavy storms and water may end up overshooting the gutters altogether.
Screen Gutter Guards
Screen gutter guards come in vinyl, aluminum, and galvanized steel grids that install by lifting the bottom row of roof shingles and then sliding the edge of the screen underneath so the shingles hold it in place. They allow heavy rainwater to flow into the gutters while keeping leaves out. They snap into place with no additional tools, making them very easy to install. Later on, they are easily removed if smaller debris is building up and the gutters need to be cleaned. They are popular because they are strong, last a long time, and are fairly inexpensive. But small debris does tend to get caught on top of and in the mesh, requiring regular maintenance.
Best Gutter Guards on the Market
These are some of the most popular brands of gutter guards available today:
A-M Aluminum Gutter Guard
Established in 2008, A-M Aluminum Gutter Guards are manufactured by two Amish brothers, Ray and Aden Miller. Their gutter guards are designed to fit right into the gutter itself, so they are completely invisible from below. They’re made of perforated sheets (384 holes per foot) of heavy-gauge aluminum and are angled to catch debris while allowing the water to easily pass through. The guards come in four-foot strips that slide right into five-inch gutters and then screw into the gutter’s outer lip. They are designed for hidden hangers but work with all types. You can buy directly or from a dealer.
Amerimax Gutter Guards
Amerimax is one of the leading manufacturers of rain-carrying systems, with products built and distributed throughout the U.S. Their Lock-In Gutter Guards are popular due to their easy installation. The screens are designed to slip under the first row of roof shingles and then snap onto the outer edge of the gutter. Their flexible design is compatible with 4″, 5″, and 6″ gutters and come in three-foot strips that can be installed with no extra tools. Made of powder-coated, rust-resistant steel, Amerimax gutter guards keep leaves and debris out of the gutter while allowing heavy rain to flow through.
EasyOn Gutter Guard
EasyOn started in the gutter cleaning business in 1996 but soon realized there had to be a better way to keep gutters clean. They released their Gutterguard line in 2000 and have been selling at Costco ever since. The stainless steel micro-mesh guards resist warping and rusting and come in a 5″ version that fits gutters between 2″-5″, or a 6″ version that fits 5”-7″. They should be installed with a 5°-25° forward slant, with the front of the gutter guard laying flat on the front edge of the gutter. You can install them yourself or hire a local gutter/roofing contractor.
Englert Gutter Guard
For over 50 years, Englert has been a leading gutter manufacturer. In addition to their LeafGuard system (see below), they also sell a MicroGuard gutter screen which has angled micro-perforations that keep debris from sticking to the screen while allowing water into the gutter. The filter features a raised, stepped groove that prevents water from splashing back onto your fascia. And their SureGuard leaf protection screen is made of high-quality aluminum that fits over both 5” and 6” K-style gutters. It is relatively inexpensive as the screen sits on the gutters and doesn’t require nailing or screwing into the roof.
FlexxPoint Gutter Guards
The mesh-style FlexxPoint 5” Gutter Cover System is made from rust-proof, lightweight aluminum and comes in four-foot sections in either black, white, brown, and matte. It attaches with screws to the outer edge of the gutter and the inside edge snaps into place (without slipping it under the shingles). It features a three-point design that slows the flow of water over the guard surface, giving it time to drain into the gutter. The mesh provides airflow underneath any surface leaves, allowing them to dry and eventually blow away. They are easy to install and even work with high-profile brackets.
GutterBrush Gutter Guard
GutterBrush is a family-owned business that started in 2004 selling its home invention direct to customers. The GutterBrush Gutter Guard consists of a cylindrical-shaped brush that fills the entire gutter channel and reduces debris blockages. It acts like bird-deflecting spikes on a windowsill, except it’s for leaves. The galvanized steel wire core with UV-protected polypropylene bristles comes in three-foot sections that nestle directly in the gutter. They do not require fasteners and install quickly without any tools. The GutterBrush prevents the build-up of snow and ice and the spiky bristles reduce the likelihood of animals nesting in the gutters.
Englert’s patented LeafGuard® is a unique seamless hooded gutter system that works on a scientific principle known as “liquid adhesion.” Basically, it’s designed to draw rainwater down and around the underside of its hood and into the gutter. Leaves and other debris slides right off the curved shape of the hood while gravity forces the water into the gutter. LeafGuard guarantees that its patented design will never clog, no matter what kind of leaves, needles, and other debris fly in. Leafguard gutters and guards are custom-fitted to your home onsite and work with all roof pitches and types.
Raindrop Gutter Guards
Contractor Nation’s RainDrop® Gutter Guard Systems were introduced in 2000 and are manufactured in the United States. They are made from polypropylene and UV stabilizers that can withstand harsh storms, hot climates, and cold winters. Their “Flex-Flange” design makes them highly adaptable, working with every roof style, fitting standard 5” and 6” gutters (and anything from 4” to 10” sizes). They come in black and fit right into the gutters, making them almost invisible from street view. And the black color absorbs the sun’s heat in the cold months, helping to melt snow and ice buildups and keep water flowing.
Raptor Gutter Guard
Raptor Gutter Guards, made by Gutterglove, are among the most popular on the market. They are designed to work with any gutter and roof type. Their Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh 5” Gutter Cover features 900 tiny holes per square inch that keep even the smallest seeds out of your gutters. The rust-proof steel mesh fits standard 5” gutters and comes in easy-to-handle four-foot strips. The V-Bend shape helps the guards keep their profile and avoid sagging. The guard slips under the lower row of shingles and the outer edge attaches to the gutter with screws (the screws and socket are included).
Valor Leaf Guard
Valor Leaf Guards have designed a gutter guard that works in all geographic areas, that is built solidly, and is affordable. Their Flat-wing & Bent-wing configurations fit all types of gutter & roof angles. Their steel screens come in three standard color options, but copper and aluminum frames are available as well to match your gutter system. The raised S-Curve design handles heavy rainfall, deflecting water while letting leaves sit on the surface and dry. Their guards are also available with Melt-Away options that melt ice and enable water flow, or Moss-Away which deters moss and fungi growth in gutters.
How Much Do Gutter Guards Cost?
You have choices when it comes to installing gutter guards: 1. DIY, 2. you buy the product and have a pro do the installation, or 3. have an installer buy and install the leaf guards. While it seems easy, leaf guard installation is time-consuming and dangerous, so it’s recommended you hire an expert. New gutter guards will cost $7.50-$12.50 per linear foot installed. If you buy the materials, you can expect to pay $2.25-$4.75 to have them installed. Re: materials, plastic is the cheapest ($.20-$.40), followed by aluminum ($.50-$1.25), steel screen ($1.50-$3.00), foam ($2.00-$3.25), steel mesh ($2.25-$4.00) and brushes ($3.15-$4.25).
Gutter Guard Professional vs. DIY Installation
Even if you are skilled at most home improvement projects, installing leaf guards on your rain gutters might be the one job you leave to the professionals. Whether the guards snap-on, nestle into the gutter, or screw onto the top, you’re going to be up on a ladder, handling power tools and cleaning as you go. It’s time-consuming, messy, and, not to mention, a little dangerous so why not hire an installer to do all the heavy lifting for you? In addition to taking the burden off your shoulders, there are a few other benefits to having your gutter guards professionally installed. First, contractors can usually purchase materials at wholesale prices, saving you money. Second, they’ll get it done faster and more thoroughly. And third, they might be able to spot other trouble spots while they’re up there that you wouldn’t see, potentially saving you money down the road.
Tired of cleaning your gutters? Prevent clogged gutters and add value to your home today with a new leaf guard system. Find experts you can trust by clicking now for free estimates from licensed gutter guard contractors in your area!