Fall is here, and while you may be excited to festoon your home with the, you don't want warped or damaged gutters and unsightly water damage turn your home into a haunted-looking house. And that's where gutter guards come in.
Gutter guards, like those sold by LeafFilter, which is available in 47 states across the United States and comes with professional installation services, may be what you're missing. Routine gutter maintenance -- everything from clearing out debris to realigning your gutters -- can be a pain year-round, but especially when it comes time to winterizing your home.
Before you spend your hard-earned money on gutter guards, you may be wondering if they actually work. They aren't required additions to your existing gutter system, after all, and you'll still have to climb up there to clean your gutters once or twice a year, so are gutter guards worth it?
Our experts weigh in on the benefits of gutter guards
"Yes, they actually work really well to keep your rain gutters debris and pest free while keeping the water flowing through your system to drain as it should," says gutter expert Matthew Dowd matter-of-factly when we asked him the same question. Dowd is the owner and operator of The Brothers That Just Do Gutters location serving the Jupiter-Palm Beach area in Florida.
We here at CBS Essentials spoke with a number of experts to get an understanding of how useful gutter guards really are, as well as the distinctions between types. Some may work better than others when it comes to keeping your gutters debris-free and your home safe from water damage, but at the end of the day gutter guards are a good long-term investment that can ease some of the responsibilities that come with homeownership.
"Properly installed gutters that flow freely with the help of gutter guards successfully redirect water away from the home and prevent future damage to the roof, interior walls, and foundation," says roofing expert, professional gutter installer, and owner of Quality Build Exteriors Mike Reedy.
Water damage is one of the less obvious problems that could arise from clogged gutters or gutters that haven't been properly maintained. Installing gutter guards can help to prevent this kind of insidious buildup and keep your home's foundation -- as well as any basement or below ground storage area -- nice and dry.
"I personally have gutter guards on my home and they do an excellent job [of] preventing leaves and debris from clogging the gutter," says real estate agent and owner of the Kentucky-based Garretts Real Estate Group Nathan Garrett on the effectiveness of gutter guards. "We have quite a bit of large, mature trees around the house too!"
One thing gutter guards are good at is keeping larger tidbits like twigs, pinecones, leaves, and small branches out of your gutters. If you live in a heavily wooded area -- or share yard space with a towering tree that loves to share its earthly offerings with your home -- you can cut down on a lot of gutter cleaning with gutter guards.
How gutter guards are supposed to work
If you haven't guessed by the name, gutter guards have a singular purpose: to protect your gutter system from its natural enemies, such as leaves, tiny twigs, pine needles, animal nests, and other bits of assorted debris.
"Gutter guards work as a protection system over your gutters to keep out debris and animals and maintain the flow of water away from your home's foundation," says home maintenance expert and president of Window Genie David Flax. "Without gutter guards, you just need to make sure you or a professional cleans your property's gutters twice a year to maintain them. Gutters are the number one cause of water damage to a home, so proper maintenance is key!"
Depending on the type of gutter guard, this protection is achieved by filtering unwanted debris from rainwater and snowmelt, which is left to flow unobstructed through your gutters and away from your home This can also help to cut down on a chore that surely makes every homeowner's "top 10 least favorite chores" list: year-round gutter maintenance.
Get your money's worth with the most reliable gutter guards of 2023
We decided to shine a spotlight on several of the absolute best gutter guards that money can buy. Browse both professionally installed and DIY gutter guards below.
- Top pick: LeafFilter
- Best lifetime warranty: HomeCraft
- Best reverse-curve: Gutter Helmet
- Best DIY: Raptor
Fortify your home against the tiny forces of nature that threaten to stop up your gutters with the help of some of the most dependable gutter guards on the market today.
Our top pick: LeafFilter Gutter Protection
LeafFilter offers homeowners gutter protection via a patented 275-micron micro-mesh design that filters out the smallest debris. While these gutter guards won't completely eliminate the need for gutter maintenance, they can greatly reduce the level of debris buildup you'll have to deal with.
LeafFilter's lifetime warranty also covers repairs (or provides a refund) in the event that clogged gutters lead to water overflow or home damage. The company stands behind the claim that its stainless steel guards are resistant to rust and corrosion as well, making this a solid long-term choice for gutter protection.
There are no price estimates to be found online, so we reached out to get an idea of what the average homeowner can expect. After a free home inspection and consultation, these gutter guards typically start at $10 per foot. As a result, average prices for a small one-story home can range between $2,000 and $4,000.
These costs can seem a bit steep, but keep in mind that professional installation comes with a few extra services: LeafFilter professionals will also remove ineffective guards and clean, align, or replace your gutters as needed. Depending on the state of your home's gutter system, these services can more than make up for high costs. The best part? Any quote you receive is good for one whole year, so you're safe if you want to compare other gutter guard options before making a commitment.
- Stainless steel micro-mesh design is ideal for filtering out medium- to small-sized debris, from leaves and twigs to dirt and shingle grit.
- Available nationwide with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, or Vermont.
- Your services can include professional installation of new gutters if your old gutter system has seen better days.
- Installation costs might be higher than other professional install companies -- and they're generally much higher than DIY gutter guards.
- No price estimates listed online. For a complete estimate, call below to schedule a free consultation.
Best lifetime transferable warranty: HomeCraft Gutter Protection
This gutter guard has all the features you'd expect from a reputable installer: stainless-steel micro-mesh screens, services that can also cover the repair of your old gutter system, and best of all: a lifetime, transferable warranty.
HomeCraft services homes in certain cities across 10 US states: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Prices are not listed online and vary from one home to the next, but homeowners can expect total installation costs to start at around $800.
- Marine-grade micro-mesh design can be very effective at filtering out small debris.
- Lifetime transferable warranty is perfect if you plan to move in the near (or far) future.
- Some customer reviews highlight aggressive sales tactics and spotty communication following installation.
- Full terms and conditions of HomeCraft's lifetime warranty are not listed online, which means you'll need to schedule a free inspection and estimate first.
Best reverse-curve design: Gutter Helmet
Most gutter guards guard your gutters (say that ten times fast) with the same design: a kind of perforated cover. Others work like Gutter Helmet, with a reverse-curve design that harnesses the magic of surface tension to whisk away debris.
There are a few reasons to consider a reverse curve design instead of something like a leaf filter setup. This guard type prevents debris from building up in your gutter thanks to a simple nose-forward design that extends past the outer edge of your gutter. It's a single-piece design that's easily installed, but at the same time more likely to be visible from the street than other guard types.
Here, you can expect an aluminum single-piece guard system that's super easy to clean. The company services homes in more than 40 states across the US and has been in business for more than 30 years, making it a reliable choice for anyone looking for gutter guards that work.
According to our chat with a Gutter Helmet representative, an average one-story home is likely to be matched with installation costs starting at $20 per foot, or $4,000 in total. That number could also go up depending on factors like the size and location of your home.
- Unique reverse-curve design is more reliable than many DIY gutter guards according to customer reviews.
- Able to withstand up to 20 inches of rain per hour.
- Can easily cover existing gutter systems, which means no surprise gutter repair/replacement fees.
- Heavy downpours may reduce effectiveness.
- Need to be installed beneath your roof shingles, which could potentially nullify your roof warranty.
Best DIY option: Raptor Gutter Guard
When all you want is an easy fix you can handle yourself -- no eye-popping installation fees involved -- Raptor Gutter Guard is the way to go.
With an aluminum, micro-mesh design, the Raptor Gutter Guard is capable of offering better filtration than other guard types. With its patented V-Bend Technology, this mesh guard is marketed as being more durable than the competition.
The big allure here is how much you might be saving on installation costs. Shop this top tier bit of gutter protection at Amazon. While some professionally installed guards can cost anywhere between $10 and $30 per linear foot (accounting for any and all installation services), DIY guards are much cheaper.
The Raptor Gutter Guard system is available for $125, which breaks down to just $2.60 per linear foot. Your purchase comes with 48 feet of gutter guard, plus the tools you'll need for installation.
- Easily installed, removed, and cleaned as needed throughout the year.
- Budget-friendly DIY prices can be very welcoming to anyone looking to avoid hefty installation fees.
- Durable design that will last.
- These do not come pre-cut, which means you may need to manually cut and trim to fit these to your gutters -- a difficult task according to some customer reviews.
- Not a great fit if your house's gutters are fixed in place by K-style brackets instead of more traditional hidden hangers.
How much should you spend on gutter guards?
Gutter guards come in several shapes and sizes. There are more expensive options that are super durable and ideal for filtering medium- to small-sized debris. There are also budget-friendly alternatives that come with less maintenance and may offer a sufficient level of protection for your gutters depending on certain factors, such as whether you live in an area that deals with higher-than- average rainfall levels.
If you have the skill and patience to go the DIY route -- as well as a power drill and extension ladder -- you can save a good amount of money by avoiding professional installation. Many DIY products have costs that break down to less than $10 per linear foot.
Total costs for some DIY gutter guards typically start at around $200, while professionally installed systems could cost between $1,000 and $4,000. This jump in costs can come into play for a variety of reasons: the size and location of your home, number of floors, and status of your existing gutter system can all affect installation costs.
Here's a quick look at the types of gutter guards available, plus how much you can expect to pay for each. Prices are given per foot and based on average cost breakdown (for DIY guards) and estimates for a one-story, 2,000-square foot house.
- Micro-mesh gutter guards: As mentioned, these kinds of gutter guards are typically the most reliable choice for balancing durability and effective filtering. also commonly corrosion resistant. Prices start at $4 per foot.
- Reverse-curve gutter guards: Unlike other gutter guards that function as a form of filtration unit, reverse-curve gutter guards (also known as gutter helmets or surface-tension gutter guards) redirect water via surface tension, leaving debris to slide onto the ground. These professionally installed gutter guards are effective and sure to last thanks to a simple one-piece design, but they may clash with your roof's warranty due to the way in which they're installed. Prices start at $2 per foot.
- Foam and brush gutter guards: Two prominent DIY gutter guards are brush and foam gutter guards. Each type is easily installed on your own: foam guards are simple inserts that sit atop your gutters, while brushes take it a step further by resting in your gutters. Think: giant pipe cleaner. Both types are effective enough at filtering out large- to medium-sized debris -- and great if your biggest concern is cutting down on gutter cleaning times. Prices start at $2 to $3 per foot.
- Screen gutter guards: One of the most budget-friendly gutter guards out there is this DIY solution, which is typically available in plastic or metal. The low-maintenance design allows you to simply place these screens above your gutter system, but this DIY gutter guard isn't terribly effective at filtering out smaller bits of debris -- plus the screens can damage or warp over time. Prices start at $1 per foot.
Why your home needs gutter guards
"Debris and water sitting in a gutter can get really heavy, oftentimes pulling away at your roofing," says Dowd. "Usually, we see some pretty bad fascia damage, which can lead to a roof repair if the gutters are not draining correctly. So they're worth the initial investment of protecting your home from future damage and your wallet from unnecessary repairs."
Fascia -- not to be confused with the plant or the pretty color fuchsia -- is the board that runs along the lower edge of your roof below your existing gutter system. You may not notice water damage right away, but this part of your roof is first in line to be affected should your gutters get clogged up.
To prevent this type of deterioration, the best defense is a good offense, which in this case, means taking action before problems start to crop up (and after a period or two of heavy rain or snow, they will). As Dowd pointed out, gutter guards are an investment -- it's all about fortifying your home against down-the-line problems such as extensive or pervasive water damage.
Don't wait until you have to calculate the costs of gutter guards and costly repairs to your roof. Keep things running smoothly atop and around your home by purchasing thetoday.
Our process for picking out the best gutter guards
When comparing gutter guards, we took into consideration a number of things. In order to help you find the best gutter guards for your home, we stuck to the following criteria:
- Type and material: Since there's no one-size-fits-all option with gutter guards, we looked at the top picks for aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, foam, and mesh guards.
- Warranty: The best gutter guards offer warranties that last 20 years or longer. We prioritized companies that offer additional security for your gutter guards like transferable lifetime warranties.
- Professional installation: All of our picks for top gutter guard providers offer reliable installation services. The one exception would be DIY gutter guards, where the joys of installation fall on your shoulders.
- Customer reviews: We stuck with companies that boast a majority of positive reviews from happy homeowners.
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