Leaf guards, gutter covers, gutter helmets, gutter guards. They are called many things, but they all have the same goals: reduce maintenance and keep gunk out of your gutters.
While different gutter covers all have the same goals, not all guards are created equal. Certain gutter guards are more effective and long-lasting compared to others. Ultimately, it comes down to the type of guard and quality of the material.
If you are looking to invest in gutter guards, there is no need to become overwhelmed at all the options. To aid you in your research, we wanted to share a quick but comprehensive guide to the different types of gutter guards along with our recommendations. For those of you in a rush, check out our handy infographic at the end of the article. We will order them from basic to premium options. Wondering if you should invest in gutter covers at all? Here’s our take on it.
Types of Gutter Guards
Bottle Brush Guards
Firstly, one of the cheapest options and easy to install, bottle brush guards look like elongated bottle brushes that sit inside of your gutter system. They are meant to allow water to flow easily through the bristles while keeping debris out. While these are a simple, quick, inexpensive solution, the brush material itself can quickly clog with small debris. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to clean them out. Also, many homeowners with this option also find that they can deteriorate quickly over time.
- Easy to install
- Does not affect the roofing system
- Multiple size options
- Designed to allow maximum water flow
- Can deteriorate
- Clog easily with small debris
- Could scratch your gutters
- Easily removed by wind or animals
- Require more maintenance
Foam Gutter Guards
Secondly, foam guards look like a long, dense, triangular piece of foam that easily slides into your gutter system. They come in various sizes and are designed to allow the water to flow through the foam into the gutters while filtering out any debris. Most are made from polyether plastic material. While inexpensive, these, unfortunately, have similar performance issues to the bottle brush guards.
- Easy to install
- Block large debris
- Gutters still get clogged with debris
- Difficult to clean
- Can trap plant life
- Can trap water
- Disintegrate over time
Vinyl & Plastic Gutter Guards
Plastic or vinyl guards are long grates that snap into the gutter system. These are popular DIY options among homeowners for multiple reasons. Firstly, you can install them yourself. Secondly, they are much cheaper than metal gutter covers. Lastly, they perform better than foam or bottle brush gutter inserts since they have a similar design to professionally installed guards.
The downsides? These gutter covers are plastic. Consequently, they can warp, bend, and break easily from high heat, built-up debris, and strong winds. As a result, they have a shorter shelf-life. Additionally, since they break easily, it is not easy to remove and reinstall them during cleaning without damaging them. Lastly, if you ever need to hire a roofing, siding, or painting contractor, these plastic guards can easily get in the way of those projects for the technicians.
- Block debris
- Less prone to clogging
- Damage easily
- Short shelf-life
- Can get in the way of other projects
- Can easily become loose and fall off
Perforated Gutter Guards
Perforated guards are most commonly made from aluminum. They are long sheets of metal (flat or wavy) with perforated holes in them to allow water to flow through. Typically, these guards sit inside the gutter system and attach to the gutters themselves.
In most instances, you need to hire a professional to install these since it is a more complex installation. Since the guards are aluminum–the same material as most gutter systems–they cannot rust. Additionally, they keep medium and large debris out of your system while allowing water to come through.
If you have a lot of pine straw or tiny debris, then it could still get into your gutter system. However, with heavy enough rain, a lot of that can still wash out of your gutters and through your downspouts. In regards to maintenance, perforated gutters need a basic gutter blow-off once or twice a year depending on your tree coverage. If you live in a windy area, sometimes the wind even takes care of this for you.
- Cheaper than premium guards
- Long-lasting and rust-resistant
- Integrate into the gutter system
- Protect against critters
- Block most debris
- More expensive than DIY options
- Do not block all debris
- Need to be professionally removed if you change gutter guard systems
Reverse-Curve Gutter Guards
Reverse-curve guards act as a covering over your gutter system with a slotted opening at the end for water to enter your gutter system. Ultimately, the idea behind this is that any debris will slide off your gutter covers onto the ground while allowing the water to slide into the gutters and drain properly.
Unfortunately, is one major downside to these types of coverings. If you have a steep roof where a lot of water runoff leads to one point, there may be too much momentum for the water to slide into your gutters. Instead, the water will shoot over your gutters onto the ground.
- Keep debris from resting on top of gutters
- Can handle large amounts of water runoff
- Prevent fascia rot
- Curve gets dirty over time
- Water flowing too quickly will flow over gutters
- Poor installation could damage the roofing system and affect your roof warranty
- Some debris can still get inside
- Permanent and difficult to uninstall
Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards
Lastly, micro-mesh guards are composed of a fine mesh typically with a metal structural backing. The fine mesh can filter out even the smallest debris like pine straw and shingle granules. These are an excellent option for homes with heavy tree coverage. Since these are a more premium product, they are one of the more expensive options, and they do require a professional installation. Like most gutter inserts, while they significantly reduce maintenance, they do need to be blown off every so often to prevent any build-up on top of the guards. No gutter guards are 100% maintenance-free, despite what advertisements say.
If you want micro-mesh gutter guards, be sure to choose a brand that has a solid frame so the mesh is sturdy and won’t bend in like vinyl gutter guards.
- Filter almost all debris
- Not visible from the ground
- Typically more premium materials
- Need professional installation
- Minimal maintenance still required
What We Install
At Quality Seamless Gutters, we install both the perforated and the micro mesh guards. In the end, we don’t think gutter guards should be complicated. That’s why we did the research for you and offer the top two products we recommend that work for virtually all properties with 5” or 6” gutters.
We find that both guards perform incredibly well and significantly reduce gutter maintenance. On top of that, by providing two different options, we can work with customers based on their specific needs and price points. Below is a little more information about each product we offer.
Gutter Rx is an aluminum guard that inserts securely into the gutter. The guards screw into the gutters themselves to make them secure. They are practically invisible from the ground. As an added benefit, the guards are eco-friendly, made from 98% recycled aluminum.
One unique feature of the Gutter Rx is the ribbed design that promotes airflow to naturally clear debris, reducing overall maintenance. The Gutter Rx is available in white and dark bronze colors. In terms of tree coverage, the Gutter Rx is a great solution for properties with mostly hardwoods.
Evelyn’s Leaf Solution Gutter Guards
Secondly, Evelyn’s Leaf Solution are a fine, stainless steel micro-mesh attached to a sturdy aluminum frame. They come in either a stainless steel, white, or black color trim and are also practically invisible from the ground. Overall, these guards are designed to keep out all types of debris including pine needles, oak tassels, and shingle granules.
Typically, we recommend this type of guard for homeowners who have pine trees or trees with small debris. They are also an excellent solution for customers who have had poor-performing gutter guards in the past and are looking for a more full-proof, premium option.
Both of our gutter guard options come with a 20-year product warranty, and we offer a 10-year workmanship warranty. We hope this guide was helpful for you! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, and we’d be happy to answer any questions or help however we can.