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How to Install Gutter Guards in 3 Basic Steps

A LeafFilter installer in a white shirt aligns and pitches a gutter under an asphalt roof.
May 14, 2024
Sarah Mason
Read Time
5 minutes

Gutter guards—also known as leaf guards—are gutter protection devices made specifically to keep water flowing freely through while keeping debris from clogging inside your gutters. Gutter guards are placed over or inside your gutters to protect them from leaves, sticks, animal nests, and other debris that can build up over time.

These types of debris—if not cleaned out—can block the flow of water. Over time, this can lead to water damage, basement flooding, and even foundation cracking.

Though it’s wise to regularly clean your gutters to avoid these problems, gutter guards can help cut down on the need for regular maintenance as they help keep debris out. Nobody likes having to climb a ladder and scoop out wet leaves and gunk, so if you’re tired of frequent cleaning, you may be considering gutter guards as a potential solution.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

Should You DIY Gutter Guard Installation?

It’s possible to save money in the short term by installing gutter guards yourself, but there are a few things to consider if you’re thinking about DIY gutter guard installation.

1. Safety

To install store-bought gutter guards, you’ll need to implement some safety measures to ensure you or others don’t get injured. The job typically includes climbing a ladder and working from a dangerous height off the ground. With safety in mind, it’s much more proactive and efficient to hire a professional who is trained and has the necessary equipment to safely perform the service thoroughly.

According to the American Ladder Institute, 500,000 people are treated for ladder-related injuries every year. While most ladder usage doesn’t result in injury, we highly recommend avoiding the risk completely by opting for a professional installation.

2. Equipment

If installing gutter guards yourself, you’ll want to be prepared with the right equipment in order to complete the task safely. This includes:

  • A stand-alone ladder rather than one that rests on the gutters
  • A bucket attached to an S-hook that hangs on the ladder securely for easy access to tools and supplies
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Circular saw (to cut pieces of the guard to fit the home’s exterior)
  • Safety glasses

It’s also wise to have a friend or family member who can assist and help steady the ladder to prevent falls.

3. Choosing the Right Gutter Guard

There are a wide variety of gutter guards to choose from. For starters, you’ll want to consider the types of debris your gutters tend to collect, as that will determine which type of gutter guard will work best.

Brush or foam gutter guards are the most affordable and the simplest to install, but smaller debris can filter into them, eventually causing clogs inside your gutters.

Gutter screens sit on top of the gutter where they trap debris, while micro-mesh guards are similar, but with even smaller holes. This helps to keep smaller debris—such as pine needles and pollen—out of the gutter, and only allow the rain itself to filter through.

Reverse-curve gutter guards extend out over the gutter, and while they’re more than able to keep leaves and larger debris out, you’ll find that smaller debris will often cause problems.

As with any home improvement project, we highly recommend taking some time to research the work involved. Besides finding recommendations online, you could also ask friends and neighbors for advice before choosing the best option for your own home.

4. Repairing Your Existing Gutters

Before you install gutter guards, you’ll need to make sure your gutters are in good condition. If they’re damaged, coming loose from the house, or otherwise compromised, you could be adding to the problem by putting guards on top of them.

5. Know-How

If you feel confident in your home repair skills and have a good understanding of the different types of gutter guards, you may be able to successfully install your own. However, the job can be harder than you imagine—and it’s also risky.

Common mistakes include buying the wrong type or size of gutter guard, damaging the guards or gutters during installation, breaking the roof’s water barrier (which can lead to water damage), and installing an ineffective gutter guard.

We always recommend hiring a professional, as it’s the easiest and safest way to go.

How to Install Gutter Guards Yourself

The gutter guards found at home repair stores are often meant for DIY installation. Exactly how you install them will depend on the type of gutter guard you purchase, but the basic installation steps typically include the following.

1. Measure, purchase, read, and gather.

Measure the length and width of your gutters. Identify their shape or style to ensure you choose the right type of gutter guard, and remember that some guards require a professional installation, which will limit your options.

Once you’ve purchased your gutter guards, read the installation instructions carefully and look for online tutorials. Then gather together all the tools you need.

2. Clean and check your existing gutters.

Make sure your gutters are in good shape. Clean them out and then run water through them to test the flow. Address any leaks or other problems before you start.

3. Install based on type.

Once everything is prepared, you’re ready to install. Follow these tips for different types of gutter guards.

  • Brush or foam: These are placed inside your gutters. Trim to match the length.
  • Plastic or metal: Slide one side under the first row of your roof’s shingles and then attach the other to the gutter itself. Use the appropriate snaps, clips, tape, brackets, or screws to fasten them, as indicated in the instructions. Trim as needed.
  • Micro-mesh: Slide these under your shingles and attach them to the outer edge of the gutter. Check the manufacturer’s website for detailed instructions.

Final Thoughts

While it’s possible to install gutter guards yourself, it’s best to consult the experienced professionals at LeafFilter for professional installation of our proven, patented technology. Our stainless steel micro mesh gutter guards allow only water to enter your gutters, reducing maintenance and cleaning demands while protecting your home from the potential dangers and costly repairs that could result from poor gutter maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install gutter guards myself?

If you have sufficient home-repair skills and feel comfortable working for extended periods on a ladder, you may be able to install gutter guards on your own.

Keep in mind that installation requirements vary, depending on the type of gutter guards you get. Some are more difficult to install than others, and some require professional installation. However, it’s always best to consult a professional with extensive experience inspecting gutters and installing durable, proven gutter guards.

If you do choose to install gutter guards on your own, choose the best guards for your home, always keep safety in mind and avoid falling.

What is the easiest gutter guard to install?

Foam and brush gutter guards are the easiest to install. They sit inside the gutter and you can cut them to size, but they may not be right for your home, depending on what kind of debris you usually have to deal with.

Of course, the best gutter guards are the ones you don’t need to install yourself. Gutter guards that are professionally installed are an ideal choice for almost any home. With professional one-time installation in as little as six hours and a transferable lifetime warranty, it’s easy to see why homeowners trust our proven technology to protect their homes.

Is it OK to put gutter guards under shingles?

Shingles protect your roof and help prevent water from entering your home. If your gutter-guard installation exposes parts of your roof, you could increase the risk of water damage. This is why brush and foam gutter guards are the most commonly recommended for DIY because they don’t affect the home’s shingles.

Some gutter guards, however, require that you lift the first layer of shingles to secure the guard in place.

Check out all of LeafFilter’s gutter guard locations for professional installation.