A few weeks ago, we talked tips for successfully tackling the most dreaded of homeowners’ chores: cleaning the gutters. But it really doesn’t have to be so terrible, nor feature as frequently in your to-do list as it does now. What’s this magic we speak of? Two words: gutter guards.

Why Install Gutter Guards?

Gutter guards are, as Cynthia WIlson writing for AngiesList puts it, “essentially designed to act as a filter over your gutters in an attempt to block debris from entering your gutter without inhibiting the gutter’s ability to draw water away from the roof.” They are particularly useful for homeowners whose properties or neighborhoods feature an abundance of trees and plants. And for those among us who either cannot clean gutters and have to invest in professional cleaning or simply do not want to engage in this burdensome chore, gutter guards are a practical solution.

What Kind of Gutter Guards Are Available?

A wide variety of gutter protection systems are available to consumers today. Their costs and features vary, but they all have the potential to make your life much easier! ThisOldHouse.com  and FamilyHandman.com each compiled some of the most popular options, which we will review below!

Gutter Guard Option 1: Leaf Barriers

This option features a hood that covers all but a tiny sliver of your gutter to allow water, but not much else, inside. The sloped hood allows gravity to do its job and help leaves, seed pods, and twigs down to the ground so they don’t accumulate atop the barriers. This option may require rehanging of existing gutters, as it works best when it slopes at the same angle as your roof. Otherwise, leaf barrier gutter guards virtually maintenance-free. A couple of downsides: they are easier to see from the ground than other gutter guard options, and they are the most expensive of the gutter protection systems (but for good reason; they are the most effective).

Gutter Guard Option 2: Foam Inserts

Some companies offer a foam insert that allows only water to pass through the porous foam material. Leaves and other debris sit on top. This is an attractive option for folks looking for a quick, easy, and affordable fix that does not require precise installation. But there are a couple of drawbacks. First, these inserts require some maintenance, as leaves and debris will pile out. Shaking out the foam is generally an easy task, though. Second, seeds can actually begin to sprout and grow out of the foam if left too long, causing much more difficulty when it’s time to clean the foam and potentially taxing your gutter system with added weight.

Gutter Guard Option 3: Screens

Another option is a mesh or plastic screen that filters water through while keeping debris on top. The variety of screens available is wide, and so is the price range. Screens are either installed with screws, slipped under shingles, or dropped right into the gutter. They may require some sweeping to avoid eventual piling up of debris, and some styles can become clogged with smaller debris like needles and seeds. This is a good option for homeowners who are primarily concerned with leaves and not smaller types of debris.

If you want to talk more about investing in a gutter protection system for your home, we’re here to help you weigh your options!