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Types of Gutter Guards: Comparing the Different Options

Updated
February 4, 2024
Author
Angela Stringfellow
Read Time
6 minutes

Cleaning out gutters is a messy and time-consuming chore, and we bet you have plenty of other things you’d rather do. Gutter guards are a smart investment that can prevent debris from clogging inside your gutters, allowing you to reclaim your precious time.

However, there are several types of gutter guards, so knowing what to look for is key.

In this post, we compare the different types of gutter guards and the pros and cons of each. Our goal is to help you determine the best type of gutter guards for your home so you can finally make that decision and stop worrying about cleaning out your gutters!

In this article:

What Is a Gutter Guard?

First, let’s start with the basics: What is a gutter guard?

A gutter guard is a protective covering device designed to prevent debris from getting inside your gutters. Some go over the top of the gutters, while others are inserted inside. They guard or protect your gutters from leaves, sticks, rodent and bird nests, and other types of debris that can build up and create clogs inside your gutters.

Gutter guards are often called gutter covers, leaf guards, and gutter helmets. Some will help significantly reduce the amount of gutter maintenance needed on your home.

They also protect your home from water damage instances due to clogged gutters, such as rotting wood and fascia, foundation damage, roof damage, and basement flooding while reducing the need to clean out your gutters throughout the year.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Gutter Guards

When choosing the type of gutter guard you’ll need for your home, keep these things in mind:

  • Roof type: If you have a simple roof, your gutter guards will cost less than if you have a more complex roof with steep inclines or long rooflines.
  • Climate: Homes in areas prone to frequent storms with high winds, blowing dust and debris, and heavy snow and ice will require stronger guards than homes in more moderate climates.
  • Size of your existing gutters: The average width of a gutter is five inches, but some may have different widths of four or six inches. Always measure your gutters before purchasing gutter guards.

6 Main Types of Gutter Guards

When you first start researching gutter guards, the process may seem daunting. Don’t worry. In general, there are only six main types of gutter guards.

1. Brush Gutter Guards

These look like their name—they’re large, circular brushes that fit inside your gutters and capture debris while allowing water to flow through. Made of stainless steel wire or plastic, they come in standard lengths that can then be cut into specific sizes.

Pros

  • Easy to install—you can do it yourself
  • Affordable
  • Available in a variety of sizes
  • Can be placed inside downspouts to deter pests
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Smaller debris can become stuck in the bristles
  • Require frequent cleaning
  • Vulnerable to frequent clogs
  • May damage gutters over time

2. Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards are usually made of polyurethane and slide inside the gutter. Water can easily penetrate the foam and flow through, while debris is typically blown away by the wind.

Pros

  • Low pricing
  • Easy to install—you can do it yourself
  • Blocks large debris
  • Fits a variety of gutter sizes and styles

Cons

  • Vulnerable to mold
  • Smaller debris can collect on top of the foam
  • May require frequent replacements
  • Difficult and time-consuming to remove and clean
  • Unsuitable for areas with high precipitation (heavy rains quickly saturate the foam, causing gutters to overflow)

3. Screen Gutter Guard

These work similarly to the screens on your windows. Made from plastic or metal, they are flat, holed screens that are either bent to fit inside the top of the gutter or clipped onto standard gutters. They have large holes that allow water to flow through, but they stop debris from getting through.

Pros

  • Helps keep leaves and other large debris out of the gutters
  • Fits a variety of gutter sizes and styles
  • Fairly priced
  • Easy to install—you can do it yourself

Cons

  • Cannot trap seeds or pine needles
  • Requires yearly cleaning, which can be difficult depending on how they were installed
  • Plastic types become brittle over time and need to be frequently replaced
  • Not ideal for windy areas, as they may blow out of the gutters

4. Mesh Gutter Guards

These are similar to gutter screens, but the holes are smaller, so they’re better at catching smaller debris. Like screen guards, mesh gutter guards are flat with a perforated barrier. They’re made of metal or plastic.

Pros

  • Blocks large and small debris while allowing water to flow through
  • Requires less maintenance than screen guards
  • Long-lasting

Cons

  • Tends to cost more
  • Needs to be installed by a professional
  • Very small debris like dirt and pollen can still get through
  • Still needs to be cleaned about once a year
  • Some designs slide under the bottom row of your roof shingles, which may damage the roof if installed incorrectly—and that can void your roof warranty

5. Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards

Micro-mesh gutter guards are similar to screen and mesh guards, but they have a finely woven mesh screen with even smaller holes, so they’re superior at keeping small debris out of your gutters. Often considered the best gutter guard type on the market today, they work well for homes with heavy tree cover.

Pros

  • Works great in areas where pine needles, pollen, and dirt clog gutters
  • Made of high-quality materials
  • Lasts a long time—usually the longest of any type of gutter guard
  • Relatively maintenance-free
  • Typically come with a warranty

Cons

  • Because of their superior filtration, they can result in a slower water flow
  • Requires professional installation
  • May cost more than other options

6. Surface Tension Gutter Guards

Also called reverse curve gutter guards or gutter helmets, these gutter guards have been on the market the longest of any of these types, making them the oldest design. Made of plastic or aluminum, they have a curved edge that leaves a slot between the guard and the gutter lip.

They are installed over your gutters, where they block debris but allow water to enter into the slot.

Pros

  • Blocks large debris well
  • Typically comes with a warranty
  • Long-lasting
  • Requires little maintenance
  • Allows proper water flow through the gutters

Cons

  • Homeowners often have to buy new gutters to go with these guards
  • Does not block small debris
  • Requires professional installation
  • Tends to be more expensive
  • In heavy downpours, water may flow right over the gutters and onto the ground
  • Has to be inserted under your shingles—poor installation could affect your roof warranty
  • Visible from the ground, which may negatively affect your home’s curb appeal

Which Type of Gutter Guard Is Best?

LeafFilter is a three-piece, steel micro-mesh gutter guard system that utilizes award-winning, patented technology to filter even the smallest pieces of dirt and debris. For example, pollen, shingle grit, and pine needles are all blocked, so only the water itself passes through.

Our award winning gutter guard is comprised of uPVC material that resists damage, has a built-in pitch and is installed to create the optimal angle to help shed debris. This combination of surface tension, built-in pitch, and fine mesh allows water to flow easily while helping to shed debris and blocking small particles.

The system is completely sealed and durable, allowing it to withstand the weight of sticks, twigs, and pests. It’s also installed flush with your roof so there’s no excessive tampering with the shingles.

Lastly, the system comes with a transferable lifetime warranty and is professionally installed by a team of local experts. From start to finish, LeafFilter gutter guards have been designed to be as worry-free as possible with proven performance that speaks for itself.

For more information and to learn why more than 1.2 million homeowners have already trusted LeafFilter gutter guards to protect their homes, call us toll-free today at 1-800-290-6106 or visit LeafFilter.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best leaf gutter guard?

The micro-mesh gutter guard is typically considered the best on the market today. It offers superior protection and efficient water flow while being a low-maintenance and long-lasting option, making them the perfect choice for anyone looking for a way to protect their home.

How do I choose a gutter guard?

Measure your gutters first, then consider your budget and your desire for reduced maintenance. Don’t forget to take your tree cover and climate into consideration. Then consider the information above as you decide between the different options and choose the best type of gutter for your needs.

Do leaf gutter guards work in heavy rain?

If you have the right type of gutter guard for your area, it can work well in heavy rains or downpours. Micro-mesh gutter guards are often considered the best at handling a lot of water. Mesh guards are able to handle water, too, however, they won’t block as much debris.

Can gutters get clogged with gutter guards?

Some gutter guards still require regular maintenance, as they are prone to becoming clogged more than others. If you have foam or brush guards, for instance, you’ll have to clean out your gutters more often than if you have micro-mesh or surface tension gutter guards.

How long do gutter guards last?

The lifespan of your gutter guards depends on the type that you purchase. Aluminum and stainless steel guards can last 20 years or more if maintained properly. Brush, foam, and plastic guards may last only 5 years. For more, check out how long do gutter guards last?

Can I get gutter guards installed near me?

You can get gutter guards installed in every city and town in the US. Here are locations near you.

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