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What are gutter guards? Everything you need to know about protecting your home gutters

While you're out there putting up holiday decor and sweeping up pile after pile of autumn leaves, take a look at your home's gutters. Whether you clean them several times a year or tend to forget all about them, your gutters could probably benefit from a little extra help -- that's where gutter guards come in.

The best gutter guards help to keep out debris of all sizes, from leaves and twigs to flecks of dirt that can accumulate over time. A quick online search will tell you that there are plenty of different gutter guards out there. 

Do you invest in professional installation from a reputable gutter guard company or go the DIY route? Do you fortify your home with mesh coverings made of rust-resistant metal or go with something relatively cheaper like foam blocks? Find everything you need to know about gutter guards below before making a decision. 

What are gutter guards? What do they do?

"Gutter guards are designed to keep out debris and animals, like birds looking to make your gutters their next nest," says roofing expert and president of Window Genie David Flax. 

"They also help direct the flow of water away from your home and prevent any clogs of stagnant water. This helps prolong the life of your gutters by preventing premature rusting. Since they block debris build up, guards also keep your gutters cleaned for longer periods of time."

Leaves, pine needles, twigs, dirt, and shingle grit: if you as a homeowner have beef with one or more of these common types of debris, gutter guards can help. These gutter covers are fixed to the top of your existing gutter system to help filter out unwanted particles. Different types may be more effective than others and some function differently (gutter brushes sit comfortably inside your gutters). Gutter guards are great for reducing -- but not eliminating -- your duties when it comes to yearly gutter cleaning responsibilities.

"It's important to note that no gutter guard is perfect -- you'll still need to regularly clean and maintain your gutters, but [gutter guards] do reduce the frequency of needing to clean them. Don't be sold on the thought that gutter guards are maintenance free," says Flax.

Some DIY guards are easily installed on your own and sit atop (or within) your gutters to keep out debris. Others are more involved and require professional installation; this typically comes with an at-home inspection as well. Some gutter guard companies offer additional services, such as gutter cleaning and long-term guarantees.

The best gutter guards for your home

From reliable professionals that will fortify your home for long-term gutter defense to DIY gutter guards that are worth investing in, here are our picks for the best gutter guards available today.

Protect your home from the whims of nature and keep your gutters clear of dirt and debris with these dependable and durable gutter guards:

Most recommended: LeafFilter Gutter Protection

LeafFilter Gutter Protection logo

LeafFilter gutter guards made it to the top of our list thanks to an effective micro-mesh design, easy installation process, and a wide service area that covers most of the continental United States.

The patented 275-micron stainless steel screen is said to be resistant to rust or corrosion. The fine mesh of these guards should keep out debris as small as shingle grit, according to LeafFilter.

Prices are not listed online and instead vary based on things like your home size and location. To get started, simply reach out to LeafFilter to schedule a free home inspection and quote. After a technician assesses several home factors (condition of your gutters, roof slope, whether your home is one or two story, etc.), you can finalize a price and schedule installation. 

A rep told CBS Essentials that base installation prices can start around $2,500 for a home with 200 feet of gutters to cover, but that can rise to over $10,000 if you opt into additional services like the repair or replacement of an old gutter system.


  • Stainless-steel micro-mesh design can be very effective at filtering out leaves, dirt, and other debris.
  • Available to homes nationwide with the exception of Alaska, Hawaii, and Vermont.
  • Services can include professional installation of new gutters if your gutter system needs to be overhauled before adding gutter guards. 


  • Professional installation cost estimates are much higher than what you'd pay for DIY gutter guards.
  • Like most gutter guard companies, LeafFilter doesn't list prices online. You'll need to schedule a consultation to get your own quote.

Best micro-mesh: HomeCraft Gutter Protection

HomeCraft Gutter Protection Logo

HomeCraft gutter guards come with several important features: stainless-steel micro-mesh screens, add-on services like the repair of your old gutter system, and a lifetime, transferable warranty.

This warranty is said to protect your home from future blockages. It is also easily transferable to a new homeowner should you move. Unfortunately, HomeCraft doesn't list the warranty's full terms and conditions online, which means you'll need to schedule a free inspection and estimate before learning more.

HomeCraft services homes in certain cities across 10 US states: Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Homeowners can expect total installation costs for these screen gutter guards to start at around $800.


  • Marine-grade micro-mesh design is exceptional at filtering out small debris and preventing clogged gutters.
  • Compatible with metal roofs.
  • A lifetime transferable warranty that's ideal if you plan to move in the near or far future.


  • No price estimates listed online. Quotes place average installation costs at anywhere between $800 and $4,000, so you'll need to schedule an inspection for a better idea of how much you might have to pay for HomeCraft gutter guards.
  • Some less-than-stellar customer reviews point to aggressive sales tactics and spotty communication following installation. HomeCraft currently holds a B rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

Best surface tension design: LeafGuard

LeafGuard logo

A trusted name in the gutter guard industry for 30 years, LeafGuard offers homeowners a unique, one-piece reverse curve guard to keep your gutters free of debris. The sturdy aluminum guard is said to handle more than 30 inches of rain per hour, making it a decent pick for gutter defense in an area prone to heavy rain.

LeafGuard designs each guard to fit a specific home, so you know you're getting a custom-fitted gutter guard with this company. LeafGuard makes itself available in more than 30 states; holds an impressive A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau; and ensures that its purchases come with a transferable lifetime warranty. 

The average cost to have your gutters upgraded by LeafGuard is estimated to start around $15 per foot, or $3,000 in total.


  • Straightforward reverse-curve design is more reliable than many DIY gutter guards.
  • Aluminum design is meant to last and can withstand rust, corrosion, and high rainfall.
  • Positive customer reviews praise LeafGuard for its high-quality gutter guards and professional installation services.


  • Definitely on the pricier side of things, LeafGuard may not be the best pick if you're holding out for something budget friendly.

Easiest installation: Original GutterStuff K-style 5-inch gutter guard

GutterStuff logo

These foam inserts by GutterStuff are a top pick for anyone looking for a straightforward DIY solution. No need to worry about cutting, fitting, or fastening screens to your gutters; these foam gutter guards simply and easily fit right into your gutters.

The foam design allows water to flow normally while holding up bits of debris on top. These are also a great choice if you value gutter guards that aren't noticeable from the street.

Available in four, five, or six-inch sizes (with five being the most common), these gutter guards come with 32 feet of product per purchase. In addition to the popular K-style design, which allows water to flow freely in a triangular area below the foam inserts, there are also half-round and fascia styles (the latter of which is ideal for deeper than average gutters). 


  • Super easy installation that involves little more than fitting the foam inserts snugly into your existing gutters.
  • With prices that break down to around $2 per foot, these are the cheapest gutter guards on our list.
  • Cleaning up is a breeze since these inserts are easily removed.


  • Shingle grit and small bits of dirt may still sneak in and build up in your gutters.
  • Leaves and other debris can build up on top of your gutter guards, which can weigh down your gutters if left unattended.

Get to know the five types of gutter guards

"There are several different types of gutter guards on the market: plastic, aluminum, or stainless steel," says roofing expert and owner of Quality Build Exteriors Mike Reedy. "We recommend aluminum because it doesn't rust or crack."

Rust-free aluminum can be an ideal material to look for in gutter guards. It is more likely to stand the test of time than plastic and it's more lightweight than stainless steel, making installation easier. 

"The gutters and guards available at big box stores are [typically] made of plastic," says Reedy.

"When plastic gutters heat up in the summer, they expand and can crack or pop off. If they are installed in the summer, they can contract in the cold winter weather, causing them to pull away from the home and allow water to overflow under the shingles. Plastic gutter guards can also expand and contract with the seasons, making them less effective at keeping out dirt and debris."

Although aluminum and stainless steel are top picks for quality that will last, there are still advantages to investing in other types of gutter guards. Here is a breakdown of your different options: 

  • Micro-mesh gutter guards: These steel screens are some of the most effective options when it comes to filtering out debris, plus they're highly durable (and typically corrosion resistant).
  • Surface tension/reverse-curve gutter guards: Also known as gutter helmets, these guards are installed directly onto the struts holding your gutters in place -- and therefore require installation by trained technicians. The unique "reverse-curve" design redirects water via surface tension, leaving debris to slide onto the ground.
  • Foam gutter guard inserts: These sit atop your gutters to filter medium- to large-sized bits of debris. If you're simply trying to cut down on gutter cleaning throughout the year, these budget-friendly gutter guards will likely suffice.
  • Brush gutter guards: These are, effectively, large pipe cleaners that sit in your gutters to catch debris. The big downside is that debris still needs to be cleaned out at least once a year (by you).
  • Screen gutter guards: Available in plastic or metal, this DIY gutter guard type might come with the lowest maintenance -- you simply position them above your existing gutter system. As Reedy pointed out to us, plastic screens can damage or warp over time.

How to install gutter guards

Gutter guards generally fall into two categories: professionally installed gutter guards, which typically require an inspection by a qualified technician, and DIY gutter guards. Depending on things like the size of your home, your budget, and your feelings toward DIY projects in general, a case can be made for either method.

With professional installation, you typically go through a process that any homeowner is likely familiar with. You reach out to a company for a quote, schedule a home inspection to finalize total costs, and decide on any additional services (some companies offer to repair/replace your existing gutter system if it's warped or damaged). Then and only then can you sit back and let the pros handle the rest.

Your home may appreciate the added assurance that comes with professional installation, but your wallet may bark in protest: Most sources list the average costs for professional installation between $600 and $2,600, and our calls for estimates on a one-story home with 200 feet of gutters backed that up (we heard "prices can start at around $800" a few times). Some customers claim to have negotiated with companies to get a lower price, so don't skip that part of the process when you call around.

Can you install gutter guards yourself?

First off, yes -- there are plenty of solid DIY gutter guards to choose from out there. Installing gutter guards can be a picturesque DIY scenario for homeowners and proud handymen or handywomen -- but you have to be up for the task. There's a lot of physical labor that comes with installing gutter guards on your own, from wielding a power drill to holding your own on a ladder for long periods of time.

"DIY might be suitable if you are comfortable working at heights and consider yourself to have basic handyman skills," says Nathan Garrett, real estate agent and owner of Kentucky-based Garretts Real Estate Group. "Brush or foam guards are typically easier to install... It would probably be best to hire a professional if you are going with the micro-mesh guards or reverse-curve guards since they may be more difficult to install, especially if you have a two-story home or complex gutter system."

How to pick the right gutter guards for your home

"Good gutter guards are not inexpensive, and with this, you get what you pay for," says Matthew Dowd, owner and operator of several The Brothers That Just Do Gutters locations in Palm Beach, Florida. 

"These should cost anywhere from $7 to $20 a linear foot -- very specific to the gutter system situation. This is an investment into your gutters, your roof, and your home. A good metal framed option will last you at least 20 years; plastic or vinyl-based products are often not worth the cost -- and often much more expensive. Try to find a company that sticks around these prices but can guarantee a job well done."

You can expect average costs for professionally installed gutter guards to fall somewhere in the price range given by Dowd, but there are a number of DIY gutter guards out there that will still get the job done, albeit at a fraction of the cost. It's all about your priorities. 

If you have a multistory home and value a professional setup above all else, look for micro-mesh or reverse-curve gutter guards that come paired with professional installation. If you want a rain gutter guard solution that won't break the bank, foam gutter guards are some of the best (and cheapest) options out there. Brushes like the well-reviewed GutterBrush leaf guard ($271 for 105 feet) are also top-notch options that can be installed in no time at all.

Sometimes, you just need a sign. If you're still on the fence about whether or not gutter guards are worth it, consider the following indicators that mean it's time to change your approach to gutter maintenance (and invest in a gutter guard): 

  • You have gutters that are visibly warped, bent, or sagging under the weight of debris.
  • Visible corrosion or rust on your gutters, which could indicate trapped moisture in or around your roof.
  • Tacky mold or mildew on your home's outer walls, which could indicate a gutter blockage.
  • Unwanted pests and critters have taken up residence in your gutters. If you see signs of insects, birds, or squirrels, first call a pest control company. Second: invest in gutter guards.

How we researched and picked the best gutter guards

Choosing the right gutter guard for your home is important, which is why we take things seriously when reviewing products -- especially the most popular and reliable gutter guards available today. These are some of the main factors we kept in mind while zeroing in on the best gutter guard products:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Customer reviews: We stuck with companies that boast a majority of positive reviews from happy homeowners.

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