You can choose from five different types of gutter guards, each with its own pros and cons.
Brush Gutter Guards
Brush gutter guards are round brushes with stiff bristles that slide inside your gutters. They resemble giant pipe cleaners or bottle brushes. Although the bristles can effectively prevent large debris from entering your gutters, pine needles and other small debris can still make their way inside.
This type of gutter guard can last five years or longer. However, you’ll likely need to remove brush gutter guards periodically to clear debris that has gotten caught in the bristles. GutterBrush and Gutter Whiskers are two popular brands.
Foam Gutter Guards
Foam gutter guards are porous enough for water to flow through, but they manage to block almost everything else. These gutter guards also sit inside your gutters. They come in different shapes and sizes to fit different gutter styles.
Foam gutter guards may need to be replaced every one to two years. They can shrink in the sun, leaving gaps that smaller debris can fall through. They are also prone to algae growth and freezing. Some brands, such as GutterStuff and GutterFoam, extend the lifespan of their products by applying germicide and a UV coating.
Screen Gutter Guards
Gutter screens sit on top of your gutters, often sliding under the first row of shingles. A wide variety of designs fall into this category. Many resemble wire fencing, mesh, or a metal grate. Gutter screens can be made of plastic, vinyl, stainless steel, or aluminum.
The smaller the holes are, the better the screen will be at blocking debris. However, screens with larger holes may be less likely to clog and easier to clean. You can expect screen gutter guards to last five to 10 years, depending on the brand. Raptor and Amerimax are two well-known brands.
Reverse-Curve Gutter Guards
Reverse-curve gutter guards use surface tension to guide water into your gutters. One side slides under your shingles, while the other extends out over the top of the gutter before curving back. Water will slide along that curve and fall into the gutters while other debris rolls onto the ground.
This type of gutter guard lasts several years and performs very well. However, all the reverse-curve gutter covers we have seen require professional installation. Popular brands include Gutter Helmet and LeafGuard.
Micro-Mesh Gutter Guards
Micro-mesh gutter guards have the same basic design as gutter screens but use a much finer mesh. The holes in micro-mesh are so small that virtually nothing but water can get through. As a result, micro-mesh screens are among the most effective gutter covers available. They are also extremely durable, often lasting 20 years or longer, and require minimal maintenance.
Two of the most well-known brands are LeafGuard and HomeCraft. Both of these brands require professional installation, but you can find DIY alternatives online or at the nearest home improvement store.