Anyone who owns a house should be aware of the importance of maintaining the gutters in a proper working condition. This process can be more difficult to manage unless you invest in some high-quality gutter guards. Gutters need to be able to keep the water as far away from your home as possible because of many potential issues. Lots of homeowners need to deal with drainage issues for their gutters because all kinds of detritus such as leaves can accumulate and form clogs. A performant gutter cover system will prevent this from happening and save a lot of money and hassle when it comes to your gutter maintenance work.
How do you pick the best gutter guard for the money? There are lots of different options and styles on the market so the selection process can get very confusing. Each type of gutter guard comes with its own advantages and drawbacks. You will need to take many factors into account before making your final decision. In this article, we’ll help you understand the benefits of having a reliable gutter guard and what are the best products for any budget and specific requirements.
1. Benefits of Gutter Guards
Is it absolutely necessary for a homeowner to invest in a gutter cover system? It might come as a surprise for some but the truth is that no, you can also manage your gutters without special guards. It’s up to you whether you prefer more work by cleaning the gutters regularly instead of using guards to prevent clogging issues and significantly reduce the frequency of this chore.
Gutter guards contribute to making your work easier but that doesn’t mean it fully gets rid of the cleaning chore. No cover system is perfect so neglecting the gutters completely after installing guards can have some unpleasant consequences. You will still have to deal with maintenance work, just not as often. Here are the key benefits of installing gutter guards for your home:
1.1 Debris Prevention
Before thinking of other benefits, let’s start with the most obvious one – preventing leaves, seeds, sticks, dirt, and other debris from causing problems to the rain gutter system. This is the primary function of a gutter guard. A clog in your gutters can wreak a lot of havoc. In some severe cases, the excess of water can fully break the gutters, especially if they’re old and weakened.
Ruining the gutter system of the home will potentially lead to various issues that can affect the foundation or the roof. This is an essential problem that you should avoid because water seepage in those places is very damaging. You can end up spending a lot of money on repairs so it’s much better to make sure water is safely directed away from those important home areas.
Some gutter guards are more effective at filtering out certain types of debris compared to others. Most basic systems won’t be able to deal with screening out small debris that will still accumulate quite easily. However, it’s safe to say that even cheaper gutter guards are better than nothing in terms of saving money in the long run. The key benefit of a gutter guard is that it lets you avoid pricey future repairs.
1.2 Rust and Mold Prevention
Gutter guards aren’t just recommended for the general health of the home. Stopping that debris buildup is highly beneficial for the gutters themselves because it slows down the rate of deterioration. One particular danger that can be avoided in this way is the formation of rust. Having pools of water sitting in the gutter due to a clog represents a bad idea because it encourages rust damage.
There’s also the issue of mold that should be considered a potential threat when it comes to gutter maintenance. You can notice a problem if the gutters always look dirty and the colors change to shades of green and brown. Letting a mold issue get out of hand could have disastrous consequences for any area of the house, including the gutters. It will be very hard to remove once the gutter gets overwhelmed by mold but the guard system minimizes this risk as well.
1.3 Pest Deterrence
Many rodent and insect pests can find their way more easily into unprotected gutters that get easily clogged with debris. This is another reason why it’s worth investing in gutter guards. The critters could use the buildup of various materials as a nesting ground. It’s important not to give pests reasons to hang around your home. Insects such as mosquitoes need stagnant water for breeding so pools of water in the gutter will seem very attractive for them. The gutter guard is a reliable deterrent for all these pests.
1.4 Reduced Fire Risk
This may not sound like the first benefit that comes to mind when thinking of gutter guards but these accessories are helpful to reduce the risk of fire in your home. The explanation is quite simple. That buildup of twigs and leaves in the gutter will eventually dry up depending on the environmental conditions. All that collected debris can form ideal kindling for any ember nearby that lands in the gutter accidentally.
1.5 Ice and Freeze Protection
The winter period can cause more issues for your home if your gutters aren’t benefiting from a reliable guarding system. Puddles of water form when collected debris and materials act like small dams. They can freeze when temperatures drop and will also grow larger during snowing. Having an ice blockage in the gutter is also a bad idea because that large weight will certainly test the strength limits of the whole system.
To avoid sagging or warping gutters during harsh winters, it could be a smart investment to protect the gutter with a suitable guard. This is only something to worry about if you live in a colder climate but it’s still worth mentioning as a solid benefit to installing gutter guards. They prevent large ice formations and allow the water to pass through and flow smoothly. Even if somehow the freezing weather gets so bad that heavy ice puts a strain on the gutter guard, the risk of damage is greatly reduced because the cover strengthens the entire system.
2. Disadvantages of Gutter Guards
2.1 Up-front Costs
Although gutter guards bring lots of solid benefits for homeowners, it’s also fair to list some disadvantages of them that need to be taken into account. The most obvious problem is the up-front cost required for the product and professional installation. There are some affordable solutions that can be mounted in a DIY manner but the most effective gutter guards will usually require a considerable initial investment.
As it has been previously noted, there are gutter guard options that can be installed with minimal effort. However, more complex models can’t be handled as easily by the average handy homeowner. That means you need to spend additional money and time to find a professional contractor to help with the mounting process. Even if you think you can handle the job yourself, there’s still the matter of expending energy. Depending on the roof size and number of stories, things can quickly get too complicated even for diehard DIYers.
Gutter guards make it easier for homeowners to maintain the gutters. There’s no need for so many frequent cleanings now but you will still have to ensure that your guards work as expected. Although rarer, gutter guards also require some maintenance. It’s a common misconception for homeowners to think that after installing the guards it’s time to relax and forget about gutter issues. That’s just not a realistic scenario so make sure you’re aware of the limitations of gutter guards. Even if gutter guards have some drawbacks, there are more benefits to installing them for your home.
3. Types of Gutter Guards
There are different types of gutter guards on the market. It’s not just a matter of selecting a certain size. Gutter guards also come with distinctive design styles and construction technologies. Understanding each separate type can be essential to determine what kind of gutter guard functionality works ideally for your home or business. We’ll take a close look at each style to figure out whether it would fit your needs and budget. You can also check out our top pick for each type of gutter guard.
3.1. Gutter Guards for DIY Installation
There are two main categories when it comes to gutter guards. First, there are those affordable options that lots of homeowners prefer because they don’t take a lot of effort to install. Secondly, there are more expensive gutter guards that should be installed professionally for the best performance. In this section, we’ll focus on the types of gutter guards that are most suitable for DIY installation.
Handling the installation job by yourself isn’t the recommended option unless you already have some good DIY experience. It can seem like an easy job for many homeowners but only to end up getting overwhelmed by the process and handing the project to a professional. There are some tools and resources needed in most cases but the upside is the significantly reduced costs involved for a DIY installation.
Screen Gutter Guards
Some of the most popular DIY options for gutter guards, screens are affordable and simple to install. There are lots of material choices when it comes to screen gutter guards. Plastic options are the least expensive but metal is usually the recommended material for this kind of screen because it offers the best value for the money. How well do screen gutter guards perform their job?
This type of gutter guard is generally quite reliable but it’s not designed to block fine particles. The screen is most efficient at keeping the gutter protected from large debris. It’s also worth mentioning that screen guards can be installed with minimal effort but they’re quite vulnerable to strong winds or more extreme weather conditions.
Although screen gutter guards are not recommended if you’re worried about clogs from fine particles, the large hole design can be considered an advantage. It’s not as difficult to clean compared to other gutter guard styles. Overall, it’s safe to say that screen gutter guards are ideal for DIY installation and homeowners who want a highly cost-effective solution.
Best Screen Gutter Guard
Made in the USA using durable powder-coated steel, this is an ideal option if you want to try DIY gutter guard installation. It boasts a special self-locking installation technology so it can stay firmly on your gutters. In terms of compatibility, the Amerimax gutter guard works best with various standard-sized steel or aluminum gutters.
This gutter cover is equipped with a tight expanded mesh pattern that’s reliable at keeping the majority of clogging debris away. The water flows freely as the metal guard filters out leaves, pine needles, sticks, and other accumulated materials. Although it’s slightly more expensive than plastic screen options, it’s worth the extra investment to enjoy better resistance to the elements and a longer lifespan overall.
Foam Gutter Guards
The foam-based cover is another type of gutter guard that’s a breeze to install without professional assistance. It relies on a sponge material that only lets water pass through. Foam inserts are quite popular for their affordable price tags and relatively solid performance. They can prevent clogs from large debris but they’re not really recommended for long-term gutter protection. One great aspect worth mentioning is that foam gutter guards aren’t visible from the street or walkway so they work better for homeowners looking for a more discrete solution to protect the gutters.
Foam gutter guards can require more frequent maintenance compared to other types of gutter guards. That’s a disadvantage that you should keep in mind. They tend to get clogged easier and may encourage the growth of mold. It’s not the best choice for homeowners living in very moist climates. The foam absorbs water more effectively and can require replacement if it’s affected by mold or mildew.
While there are some disadvantages to foam gutter guards, you shouldn’t exclude them from your options too quickly. This is because their benefits can easily rival the drawbacks. Foam guards are very inexpensive and much easier to install even compared to screens. That’s mostly due to how you can just insert the foam section directly into the gutter. To make it fit properly, it can be conveniently cut to accommodate the shape of the entire system.
Best Foam Gutter:
GutterStuff is the leading brand when it comes to foam gutter guards. If you’re looking for this kind of gutter protection solution, you can’t go wrong with this foam filter insert. It offers an incredibly easy DIY installation that can be handled by the majority of homeowners. The product is designed with separate sections that are quickly inserted in the gutter. Just a bit of trimming may be required for a proper fit.
This particular foam gutter guard model is only compatible with the most popular K-style type of gutters. However, GutterStuff provides a diverse line of products to cover the needs of homeowners that have half-round or fascia styles of gutters. The foam filter insert is specially crafted to filter leaves and debris while maintaining a practical no-show look so there’s no need to sacrifice the aesthetics of the home.
Brush Gutter Guards
As their name suggests, these gutter guards rely on a special brush design to prevent debris from clogging the gutters. It’s a similar approach to foam guards when it comes to installation. This is because it needs to rest within the gutter so the bristles of the brush can capture any materials that can potentially cause clogs. The look of a brush gutter guard can easily resemble a pipe cleaner tool.
The main reason to consider this kind of gutter guard is the low cost. Brush guards are very affordable and can be inserted into the gutters without requiring a professional service. Any homeowner that gains access to the gutters can handle the installation job. Thanks to the use of a flexible metal wire core, the brush gutter guard is simple to adjust around corners or various shapes.
As you can probably expect from the superior affordability, the brush gutter guard doesn’t perform as well compared to more expensive alternatives. They’re great to catch leaves and large debris but can’t handle fine particles. Although more frequent cleanings can be needed, the good news is that removing the brush guards from the gutter for maintenance is simpler than other types. Brush gutter guards are primarily recommended for homeowners that aren’t troubled by too much surrounding foliage and who wish to avoid complicated installations.
Best Brush Gutter Guard
Available in sections of different sizes, the GutterBrush gutter guard is the best solution if you want to try a brush gutter guard system. The sections are quickly installed in your rain gutters without requiring specialized tools. As opposed to foam guards, there’s also no need to worry about any trimming work.
GutterBrush makes its products in the USA from premium ingredients such as the galvanized steel core and polypropylene bristles. The brush gutter guard is durable enough to last for a long time thanks to anti-UV properties. Despite costing less than other systems, this is a simple yet efficient solution to prevent clogs, ice dams, and other typical gutter problems.
3.2. Professional Gutter Guards
Homeowners who prefer making budget sacrifices instead of wasting time and effort on DIY solutions should consider gutter guards that usually require professional installation. Despite the attractive costs of DIY gutter guards, they just can’t compare to professional-grade products in terms of long-lasting performance. Bringing in an expert to handle the installation job will also contribute to much more satisfying results to make gutter clogging issues things of the past.
Micro-mesh Gutter Guards
Most professional gutter guard companies and experts that install these products agree that micro-mesh gutter guards are the best systems you can use for the long-term prevention of gutter issues. The reason for that is quite simple. These gutter covers are engineered with finely woven filters that are much more effective at blocking all kinds of debris, including smaller particles. Water can still flow freely so you can take advantage of the full capabilities of the gutter system.
The micro-mesh design of this type of gutter guard delivers excellent filtering power but it’s not without some disadvantages. Due to having such tiny holes, there’s a slightly increased risk of stuck water droplets. This can be a problem for very humid or moist climates where that water doesn’t get the chance to fully dry. The extra moisture encourages the growth of mold or microscopic algae.
Even if you live in a wet region, it’s still worth considering micro-mesh gutter guards. The potential damage caused by excessive moisture that fails to evaporate can usually be prevented quite easily just from regular maintenance. There are different materials used to manufacture the frame and mesh of these gutter guards. It’s important to take this aspect into account to get the right level of durability for your needs. We recommend opting for a premium stainless steel micro-mesh option because it’s more reliable compared to aluminum, copper, or plastic.
Best Micro-Mesh Gutter Guard
Anyone who wants to benefit from the performance offered by a professional-grade gutter guard should check out the Raptor stainless steel micro-mesh model. It’s built for heavy-duty use by homeowners affected by dense surrounding foliage and other large or small debris. The sturdy stainless steel materials ensure better long-term durability.
Although it’s not absolutely mandatory to make use of the services of a professional contractor to install this gutter guard, it’s not recommended for DIYers. This is because it’s simply too easy to run into common mistakes during the installation that will potentially affect the performance of the gutter guard. To fully enjoy the benefits of this advanced micro-mesh gutter guard, it’s best to leave the project in the hands of an expert team.
Reverse Curve Gutter Guards
The reverse curve style is another popular type of gutter guard intended for professional installations. This one makes clever use of enhanced surface tension on a sloping construction to let the water flow more effectively by adhering to the surface. The water is carefully directed through a narrow opening while at the same time the guard will prevent debris from falling in.
One of the most important advantages of the reverse curve gutter guard is the simplified maintenance process. It requires less frequent cleaning even when compared with other gutter guards. The only notable concern is the underside of the gutter guard where small particles can accumulate more easily. That’s still not a considerable issue because it takes a very long time for a clog to develop.
If you plan on getting a gutter guard that can endure the test of time, it’s safe to say that a reverse curve style would be an ideal option. Homeowners who value reliable long-term functionality above all else should choose it. Those who worry about gutter aesthetics should know that a reverse curve gutter guard needs to be installed correctly to avoid an unsightly view. It’s probably the hardest type of gutter guard to install so that’s why the job should be left to a professional. Reverse curve guards are not as popular for this reason so you will have to contact a specialized gutter guard company if you’re interested in having one installed.