Cleaning the gutters is something no homeowner looks forward to. While it’s certainly necessary, I’ve never met anyone who’s idea of fun is pulling junk out of their gutters. Fortunately, there are a number of options for protecting your gutters that can make cleaning them easier or even unnecessary. There are a number of different gutter guard options on the market, in this article we’ll look at some of the most popular and discuss the pros and cons. By the end you’ll be able to make an informed decision on which best fits your needs and budget.
Pros: Cheap and easy to install, good for leaves
Cons: Allows smaller debris through, may need to be replaced
Screens are one of the most common and affordable gutter guard options. They often come in spools that can easily be cut to the exact size you need.
Screens are often good enough when leaves are your largest concern. They’ll be able to keep out most sized leaves as they won’t fit through the screen.
Smaller debris, like pine needles, however, will often find their way through and may need to be cleaned. This means screens are often low, but not no maintenance. Periodic cleaning may be needed to prevent blockage.
Overall, screens are a quick and easy option. They might not be as effective for small debris as other systems, but often can be installed by yourself with minimal investment.
Pros: Relatively affordable, can block smaller debris
Cons: Prone to damage and requires maintenance
Next up we have mesh which is a bit of a step up in both protection and cost from screens. Mesh openings are smaller than screens, which means smaller debris like pine needles can’t get through. Very fine debris still might, but significantly less than with screens.
This typically comes at increased cost with mesh costing more than simple screen protectors. Mesh is also not 100% maintenance free, and may occasionally require a quick cleaning. Lastly, mesh can be damaged by larger debris like sticks or from freezing.
Mesh is a great option if you’re still looking for a relatively affordable, DIY option but want to protect against a larger range of debris than simple screens will.
Pros: Cheap, widely available, easy to install
Cons: Can trap smaller debris like seeds
Next up we have foam. These are typically sold in several foot chunks that can be placed right into your gutters. This makes them probably the easiest to install while still being relatively cheap.
Foam gutter guards will keep out most debris, but can trap smaller debris like seeds. In some cases, these seeds can actually sprout and start growing from the foam. This means a homeowner will need to periodically check and clean the foam itself to prevent a buildup of debris.
Foam is a great choice for those looking for a dead-simple gutter guard option that they can set up quickly.
Pros: Most durable and keeps out almost all debris
Cons: Most expensive, often requires a pro to install
Lastly, we have surface tension systems which are often the most effective while also being by far the most expensive. These systems can often keep out all debris, and require the least amount of maintenance.
Outside of the cost, the biggest downside is that these often need to be installed by a professional. Surface tension systems need to be aligned properly to the grade of the roof and this can mean that they need to be specially fitted. In some cases, companies offer these as all-in solutions that actually replace the existing gutters.
For those looking for a set and forget solution surface tension systems are often the best bet. Just be prepared to spend more per foot than the other options and potentially hire a professional for installation.