Gutter Guards: Overview of Guard Types and Brands

  • 01 of 06

    Overview of Gutter Guard Systems

    Gutter Guards Can Prevent This
    Gutter Guards Can Prevent This. Bobbi Gathings / Getty Images

    Cleaning leaves from gutters is an annual mess for any homeowner with deciduous trees. If you're lucky enough to have evergreen trees, cleaning needles from your gutters is an ongoing process--all year long. And even if you're not in a high leaf/high needle zone, your gutters will still slowly gunk up with particles from composite shingles, twigs, and dirt.

    Many homeowners don't like getting up on a ladder to clean gutters or hate the idea of paying a service to do this relatively...MORE simple task. That's why inventors from time immemorial have tried to devise gutter systems that let water in but keep leaves out.

    What's out there? Essentially, you've got a choice of three types of gutter guard systems: those that screen and filter; those that block and fill; and those that separate water from debris by means of surface tension. Details:

    1. Screening/Filtering Devices: Metal or vinyl screens that fit on top of existing gutters. Or gutter systems with such screens built into the product.
    2. Blocking/Filling Devices: Strips of very porous foam or brushes you stuff into the gutters.
    3. Reverse Curve Gutters: Water clings to the hood and flows into the gutter; leaves and other debris do not cling and shoot away.
    Continue to 2 of 6 below.
  • 02 of 06

    Screening: DIY Mesh Screens

    Diamond Gutter Shield
    Diamond Gutter Shield. © Amerimax

    How Does It Work?

    Aluminum or PVC screens that fit on top of existing gutters. Water passes through large holes in the ​screen, but leaves and debris filter away or remain on top.

    DIY-Friendly?

    Yes.

    Brand(s)

    There are many brands out there. One is Amerimax Home Products, which produces gutter filter screens available at most home improvement stores.

    Pros

    Easily available. Inexpensive.

    Cons

    Leaves remain on top of the screen.

    Large holes in mesh allow small particles to pass into the gutter. These...MORE particles will either pass into the downspouts or need to be removed by hand.

    Continue to 3 of 6 below.
  • 03 of 06

    Screening: Micro-Mesh Gutter Screens

    Leaf Filter
    Leaf Filter. © Leaf Filter

    How Does It Work?

    DIY gutter screens let small particles into the gutters. After some time, they create a sludge that must be manually removed. But micro-mesh screens have holes as small as 50 microns diameter, to prevent even tiny run-off composite shingle particles from entering gutters.

    DIY-Friendly?

    No. Usually, they need to be purchased from a dealer and installed by their own installers.

    Brand(s)

    Leaf Filter

    Pros

    Almost nothing can enter your gutters. A plus if you are collecting rainwater in...MORE barrels.

    Cons

    Few DIY options. High volumes of water may skate across the screens and not enter gutters.

    Continue to 4 of 6 below.
  • 04 of 06

    Blocking: Foam Gutter Inserts

    Leaf Defier
    Leaf Defier. © Leaf Defier

    How Does It Work?

    The basic idea is to block the gutter before it gets blocked by leaves and other unwanted junk. The material you use to block the gutter is a highly porous foam that comes in 4 foot-long strips. Rainwater sheets off of the roof and rapidly down through the foam inserts. Debris remains on top of the inserts.

    DIY-Friendly?

    Yes, very much so.

    Brand(s)

    GutterStuff carries some at about $8.00 per linear foot for 4″ half round gutters. GutterFill and Leaf Defier also have similar...MORE products.

    Pros

    Low cost and easy DIY-ability.

    Cons

    You still need to clean your gutters. The only difference is that debris sits at a higher level instead of being buried inside the gutter.

    Some homeowners report that foam gutter inserts promote moss growth.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Blocking: Gutter Brush

    Gutter Brush
    Gutter Brush. © Gutter Brush

    How Does It Work?

    Much like the foam inserts, Gutter Brushes fill the gutter's cavity. Water passes easily through the bristles. The intent is to allow some debris to remain in the bristles and decompose. Larger debris will blow away or can be removed by hand.

    DIY-Friendly?

    Yes, very much so.

    Brand(s)

    Gutter Brush

    Pros

    Easy and cheap.

    Cons

    Cannot remove all debris from the brushes.

    Continue to 6 of 6 below.
  • 06 of 06

    Reverse Curve Surface Tension Gutter Systems

    Reverse Curve Gutter Systems
    Reverse Curve Gutter Systems.

    How Does It Work?

    Surface tension gutters are a cool concept. The idea is that water "sticks" to a curved ridge, following that ridge even as it bends upside-down. By that point, the water will flow off of the ridge and pour into the gutter.

    Instead of following the curve, debris flows straight off onto the ground.

    Dynamic Metal Rendering notes that these "reverse curve" cutters are nothing new: they were first patented in 1908 by George Cassens.

    DIY-Friendly?

    No. Generally, you...MORE cannot buy these gutters on the retail market and they must be installed by authorized installer. However, Amerimax does offer a similar, DIY-friendly retrofit device that they call the Solid Gutter Cover.

    Brand(s)

    LeafGuard

    Pros

    Seamless and sealed.

    Curved hood blends in with ​the roofline.

    Cons

    Sealed? What if you have to get inside the gutters?

    You usually cannot install these gutters by yourself.

    It's debatable whether reverse-curve gutters work at all. For some homeowners, the water does not flow into the trough at high volumes. Debris doesn't always sheet away, either; it sometimes clogs the opening.