The Best Gutter Guards for Your Home

Keep leaves and debris from clogging your gutters—and rainwater flowing away from your home—with one of these top picks.

The Best Gutter Guards for the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Cleaning your home’s gutter system is a messy chore, but it’s vital to keep the gutters free of clogs. Formed from decomposing leaves, twigs, and other debris, clogs can force water to flow over the side of the gutter, damaging foundation plantings or freezing in winter and breaking the gutter system. But you needn’t teeter on a ladder twice a year to keep your gutters clear.

Installing gutter guards will keep debris from ever entering the gutters, eliminating the risk of clogs. Keep reading to learn all you need to know about the selection on the market today, and to find out why we’ve chosen the following four as the best gutter guards for most homeowners.

  1. BEST FINE MESH GUTTER GUARDS: Raptor Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh 5” Gutter Cover
  2. BEST “INVISIBLE” GUTTER GUARDS: A-M Aluminum 5” Gutter Guard
  3. EASIEST-TO-INSTALL SCREEN GUTTER GUARDS: Amerimax Home Products Lock-In Gutter Guard
  4. BEST GUTTER GUARDS FOR HEAVY LEAF ACCUMULATION: FlexxPoint 5” Gutter Cover System


The Best Gutter Guards for the Home

Photo: istockphoto.com

Professional vs. DIY Installation

Gutter contractors will gladly put gutter guards on your home for between $15 to $19 per linear foot—and pro installation is strongly recommended for anything higher than a first-story roof. However, many homeowners with one-story houses may prefer to DIY this relatively simple job that requires only basic tools, shelling out merely $.75 to $6 per linear foot for material. So the information ahead focuses on the best DIY-friendly gutter guards.

Types of Gutter Guards

The three main types of gutter guards available to today’s homeowner are screen, mesh, and reverse curve (also called “surface tension”)—and each has its own set of advantages. Most gutter guards come in three-foot to eight-foot lengths, with widths designed to cover gutters ranging from four inches to six inches wide.

1. Screen gutter guards

These gutter guards feature a wire or plastic grid that installs by lifting the bottom row of roof shingles and then sliding the edge of the screen beneath so the weight of the shingles holds it in place. These are easiest type of gutter guards to install—oftentimes no tools are needed.

Benefits:
• Screen gutter guards are an inexpensive option, starting under $1 per linear foot.
• The screen grid keeps leaves from entering the gutter trough.

Considerations:
• Because they’re not screwed down, screen gutter guards may be dislodged by high winds or knocked out from under the shingles by falling branches.
• Plastic screen guards can become brittle over time and break.
• Prying up the lower row of shingles to install slip-under gutter guards may void some roof warranties. Contact the shingle manufacturer before installing this type of gutter guard if you have concerns.

2. Mesh gutter guards

Mesh gutter guards are similar to screen guards, allowing water to run through small holes while blocking twigs and debris. The guards are available in either plastic or metal mesh, and they install in three main ways—by slipping the edge under the first row of shingles, snapping the guard directly onto the top of the gutter, or attaching a flange to the fascia.

Benefits:
• Easy to install.
• Blocks even small bits of debris, such as blowing sand, while allowing rain to flow through.
• Available in a variety of options, from inexpensive plastic frames and lightweight screen-type material to solid metal frames and mesh made from stainless steel.
• Expect to pay $1.50 to $4.50 per linear foot, depending on quality.

Considerations:
• Flimsy varieties of fine mesh gutter guards can be torn and damaged by ice buildup and falling branches.
May need occasional cleaning, which could involve spraying with a hose, and (optionally) scrubbing with a brush if tiny fallen seeds lodge in the fine mesh holes.

3. Reverse curve gutter guards

Reverse curve gutter guards re made from lightweight metal or molded plastic, and water does not flow through them but rather over the top and around a downward curve before dropping into the gutter beneath. Leaves and debris slide right off the edge and fall to the ground below. In order to work properly, the guard strips should be installed at the same angle as the slope of the roof.

Benefits:
• Works well for keeping leaves and debris out of the gutter, even in heavily treed yards.
• Some brands are available in a handful of colors, including white, almond, and gray.

Considerations:
• Less DIY-friendly than other types, reverse curve gutter guards require being able to attach the backside of the guard at the correct angle to the roof’s fascia (the vertical strip just above the top of the gutter). If the angle isn’t correct, water can run over the edge, rather than following the reverse curve into the gutter. This involves some advanced carpentry skills, and sometimes the gutter itself will have to be lowered.
• Because reverse gutter guards install above the existing guttering, they may be visible from the ground.
• Reverse curve gutter guards are built to last but they’re more expensive than their mesh and screen counterparts, running $4 to $6 dollars per linear foot.

Measuring for Gutter Guards

To get the right size guard, measure the width of the top of the gutter from the outside edge to outside edge. Gutters come in three standard widths: four-inch, five-inch, and six-inch, with five-inch being most common.

Our Top Gutter Guard Picks

Put an end to semi-annual gutter cleaning with one of the following options. In addition to being our personal top choices, these have been selected by homeowners as the best gutter guards for DIYers.

Best Gutter Guards with Fine Mesh: Raptor

Photo: amazon.com

1. BEST FINE MESH GUTTER GUARDS: Raptor Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh 5” Gutter Cover

For the ultimate in debris-blocking gutter coverage, the Raptor Stainless Steel Micro-Mesh 5” Gutter Cover boasts tiny holes that keep even the smallest wind-blown seeds out of your gutters. The stainless steel, rust-proof Raptor fits standard five-inch gutters and comes in easy-to-handle four-foot strips. The guard slips under the lower row of shingles and the outer edge also attaches to the gutter with screws for extra security. The screws and the nut-driver socket needed to install the strips are included. Homeowners call the Raptor gutter guard “rugged” and “durable.”

Best Invisible Gutter Guards: A-M

Photo: istockphoto.com

2. BEST “INVISIBLE” GUTTER GUARDS: A-M Aluminum 5” Gutter Guard

If you don’t want gutter guards to show from below, get the A-M Aluminum 5” Gutter Guard. Made from lightweight aluminum, it fits snugly inside the top of the gutter and is virtually invisible once installed, so nothing will detract from your roof’s good looks. It comes in four-foot strips, fits standard five-inch gutters, and in addition to slip-under shingle support, it attaches to the gutter’s outer lip with self-tapping screws (not included).

Best Gutter Guards for DIY Installation: Amerimax Home Products

Photo: amazon.com

3. EASIEST-TO-INSTALL SCREEN GUTTER GUARDS: Amerimax Home Products Lock-In Gutter Guard

Even a novice DIYer will find it a snap to install the Amerimax Home Products’ Lock-In Gutter Guard. This screen-type gutter guard is designed to slip under the first row of shingles and then snap over the outer edge of the gutter. Its flexible design accommodates four-, five-, and six-inch gutter systems. Made from powder-coated steel screen to resist rust, the Amerimax gutter guard will keep leaves and debris out of the gutter while permitting even the heaviest downpour to flow through easily. It comes in easy-to-handle three-foot strips and can be installed with no extra tools.

Best Gutter Guards for Heavy Leaf Accumulation: FlexxPoint

Photo: amazon.com

4. BEST GUTTER GUARDS FOR HEAVY LEAF ACCUMULATION: FlexxPoint 5” Gutter Cover System

Reinforced with raised ridges that run the length of strip, the mesh-type FlexxPoint 5” Gutter Cover System offers enhanced protection from sagging or collapse, even under heavy leaf or snow accumulation. Made from lightweight aluminum, the rust-proof FlexxPoint gutter guard is available in black, white, brown, and matte. It attaches with screws (included) to the outer edge of the gutter and the inside edge snaps into place, so no need to slip it under the shingles.