Your gutters are important when it comes to protecting your home’s roof, siding, foundation, and landscaping from the effects of rainfall. However, gutters can be a pain to clean, especially if they’re surrounded by tree-heavy landscaping. Leaves, sticks, pine needles, and other debris can easily clog gutters, negating their protective function and sending water pouring over the edge.
Gutter guards, also called leaf guards, prevent debris from entering your gutters and make the cleaning process a little easier. In this guide, we’ll discuss the most common types of gutter guards and how much you can expect to pay for each one to help you find the best gutter guards for your home.
Benefits of Gutter Guards
While many people think that installing gutter guards is a free pass to never cleaning out their gutters again, this is a misconception. Gutter guards block most debris, but no device will ever completely block debris from entering your gutters.
Here are a few benefits of installing gutter guards:
- Prevents animal and insect infestations
- Reduces the chances of a fire
- Improves your gutter’s water flow
- Prevents premature rust and corrosion
How Much Does It Cost To Install Gutter Guards?
Gutter guard materials are typically priced by the linear foot, and the average home has about 200 feet of gutters. Here’s how much gutter guards cost to install, by type:
|Cost||Gutter guard price per linear foot||Gutter guard price for 200 linear feet||Professional installation cost per linear foot||Total gutter guard installation cost|
|Plastic screen||$0.40 to $1.00||$80 to $200||DIY||$80 to $200|
|Perforated aluminum||$0.50 to $1.50||$100 to $300||$2.50 to $3.75||$600 to $1,050|
|Steel screen||$1.50 to $3.50||$300 to $700||$2.50 to $3.75||$800 to $1,450|
|Foam||$2.00 to $3.25||$400 to $650||DIY||$400 to $650|
|Micro-mesh||$2.00 to $4.00||$400 to $800||$2.50 to $3.75||$900 to $1,550|
|Brush||$3.00 to $4.25||$600 to $850||DIY||$600 to $850|
|Gutter helmets||$3.50 to $6.50||$700 to $1,900||$2.25 to $12.00||$1,150 to $4,300|
Note: To save money, you can install most types of gutter guards yourself. However, if your house is two stories or higher or you have a steep roof, consider paying a professional to complete your gutter guard installation.
Keep in mind that these are average gutter guard installation costs. Material prices and installation costs may vary from location to location. Request a few quotes from roofing and general contractors in your area to compare pricing.
Factors To Consider Before Installing Gutter Guards
From the width of your gutters to your current climate, here are four important factors to consider before installing gutter guards:
- Width of your gutters—Make sure you measure your gutters before purchasing guards. Most gutters are five inches in width, but some houses may have four- or six-inch gutters.
- Climate—If the climate you live in gets a lot of snow and ice, flimsy plastic mesh guards probably aren’t the best option. Instead, consider going with a hardier metal, such as steel.
- Roof type—Steep roofs, less accessible roofs, and long rooflines will incur higher installation costs.
- Type of guard—From plastic screen guards to durable steel screens, the type of guard you choose will depend on your budget and cleaning preferences.
Types of Gutter Guards
Most gutter guards are made of plastic, metal, or a combination of the two. They either sit on top of the gutter or rest inside it. Here are a few common types of gutter guards.
The least expensive gutter guards are made out of PVC plastic, and the quality is reflected in the price. Typically, you’ll purchase the material in rolls that are the approximate width of your gutter and cut them before installation. This makes for a fairly easy DIY project, since you simply lay the screen on top of the gutter and tuck the edges under the eave.
These gutter guards stand up reasonably well against leaves and pine needles, but unfortunately, they can be easily blown away or knocked out of place. Additionally, the plastic can become brittle or warp under extreme temperatures. On average, plastic guards only last for three to six years.
Another affordable gutter guard material is aluminum sheeting perforated with small holes. This guard is also relatively easy to install and fastens onto your gutters either with included fasteners or by bending the edges to fit around the gutter. You’ll need a hacksaw, tin snips, and gloves for maneuvering the guard safely around the sharp edges of your gutter.
Aluminum gutter guards block most debris and don’t rust. They typically last for 10 to 20 years. However, when seeds or other small debris get inside your gutters, you’ll find these guards are difficult to remove for cleaning.
Steel mesh gutter guards are similar to plastic guards, but they’re more durable and robust. They’re just as easy to install as plastic guards, though you’ll need to use tin snips to fit the gutter guard in your gutter. Steel screen gutter guards are great for blocking leaves and pine needles and are relatively easy to clean—simply wait until the collected debris is dry and brush it away. On average, steel guards last between seven and 10 years.
However, not all steel screen guards are created the same. Make sure you purchase a powder-coated metal guard, as this will repel rust, and avoid the type of steel guard that fastens by tucking under the first layer of shingles, which will expose your roof deck to rain and could void your roof’s warranty.
While screens and mesh guards sit on top of a gutter to prevent debris from falling in, foam gutter guards sit inside the gutter, making them one of the easiest types of gutter guards to install. These polyurethane foam wedges are porous enough to allow water to flow through the gutter and down the spout, but leaves and other debris stay on top of the foam and slide off.
Unfortunately, even polyurethane breaks down over time, sending microplastics into the runoff and groundwater. Additionally, algae and fungus can grow on the foam, making it unsightly and smelly, so you’ll have to remove the foam and wash it from time to time. While these foam inserts can last up to 10 years, they won’t last nearly as long in wet or sunny climates.
These gutter guards are made out of plastic, steel, or aluminum, and they’re more expensive than other mesh guards because of the fineness of the mesh. Micro-mesh guards have smaller holes, which prevent debris, but the smaller holes can become blocked more easily. Because of this, micro-mesh guards are a good option for houses in wet climates surrounded by large, leafy trees.
The price and durability of these guards varies by material. Plastic will be the least expensive, but it may only last for three years. Powder-coated metal can last for up to 12 years, but it’s pricier than plastic micro-mesh guards.
Similar to foam gutter guards, brushes sit inside the gutters and block the flow of debris. These are metal rods with nylon or plastic bristles attached at all angles, just like a circular brush. They install very easily, though you’ll have to cut them with a hacksaw if they’re too long. They’re durable, lasting 10 to 20 years, but they’re also fairly expensive.
While brush guards protect against large debris and dry leaves, seeds and pine needles can stick to the bristles, making them difficult to clean. You may have to clean the brushes as often as you would the gutters. Additionally, as the bristles degrade, you’ll have the same problem with microplastics as you would with the foam.
Gutter Helmets/Surface Tension Guards
Unlike other types of gutter covers, solid-surface gutter helmets cover the entirety of the gutter and feature a metal lip that points down towards the outer edge of the gutter. Water runs down the helmet and onto the lip thanks to surface tension, while leaves and other debris slide off the cover. You can use a broom to remove any debris that doesn’t slide off the cover.
Gutter helmets and surface tension guards are highly durable and can last up to 20 years. However, one end of the guard is fastened to the roof’s fascia, which requires a professional installation by a gutter guard company. Add installation costs to material costs, and gutter helmets are easily the most expensive option on our list.
Note: You may need to purchase surface tension gutter helmets directly from a company that makes and installs them.
Best Gutter Companies
There are so many gutter companies in the market that it might be difficult to figure out which company is best for you. We have conducted an in-depth review of dozens of gutter companies, including their products and services. Check out the best gutter companies below.
LeafFilter makes an excellent gutter guard with maximum protection and strength. Its patented 275-micron steel mesh gutter guard includes a lifetime, transferable warranty.
The company offers a thorough installation process in which a LeafFilter specialist provides a free in-home inspection to determine where there are areas of concern. When the specialist returns for the installation, they remove ineffective gutter guards and install new gutters, if needed. The specialist also cleans and preps your gutter system for LeafFilter installation. Finally, the specialist secures the LeafFilter to your gutter.
HomeCraft Gutter Protection
HomeCraft features one of the best gutter guard designs. Its gutter guards use a patented, raised-screen design called Diamond Raised Technology. Paired with its marine-grade stainless steel and fine mesh material, HomeCraft’s gutter guards are able to allow water to flow freely through its holes while debris is pushed away. This design also keeps wind freely blowing through your gutter system when dry.
HomeCraft features locations throughout Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.
All American Gutter Protection
All American Gutter Protection is another of our picks for the best gutter companies on the market. It offers micro-mesh gutter guards that come in more than 30 colors. Similar to LeafFilter, it also provides free home inspections. The company also features high customer reviews on popular reviews sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
It is only available in 15 states, though. States include Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
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