Gutter Guard Installations: Here’s What to Know

Gutter guards can keep the leaves out of your gutters, so you have less cleaning to do.

Someone installing plastic gutter guards to get them to fit into place.
Image: IndyEdge/getty

Rain gutters help prevent water from pooling around your home and damaging your all-important foundation. But clogged gutters can be a pain to clean, and if left unchecked, they can cause damage as water trickles through cracks in the siding. That’s a problem you seriously want to avoid.

A gutter guard is designed to prevent gutters from getting clogged by pesky leaves and debris, keep your home dry and safe, and avoid costly foundational repairs. They’re easy to install and can reduce the cleaning and maintenance.

What Are Gutter Guards?

A gutter guard is a device that keeps rubble like dry leaves and pine needles out of your rain gutters. That rubble can build up and even become a fire hazard, especially if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Gutter guards can also keep critters like mice, bats, and birds from nesting in gutters, reducing the risk of water damage to your home.

Let’s look at a few types of gutter guards, including prices.

A graphic showing common types of gutter guards including brush, foam, mesh, reverse curve, and perforated screen.
Image: HouseLogic

Brush Gutter Guard

These inserts resemble pipe cleaners or bottle brushes that lie in your gutters. The stiff bristles catch larger twigs and leaves while allowing water to pass through undisturbed. These are easy to install and relatively cheap, at $1.25 to $4 per linear foot. However, since the bristles of the brush guards trap debris that can build up over time, they may be less effective than alternatives and still require regular cleaning.

Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards also sit in the gutter, allowing water to pass through while trapping debris. They are easy to install, but be wary of low-end products. Poor-quality foam gutter guards aren't a good choice. They can trap small debris leading to decay, which can become a hotbed for mosquitos. Expect to pay about $1.50 to just under $5 per linear foot of foam for your gutter guard installation.

Reverse Curve Gutter Guard

Also known as a surface tension gutter guard, this device features a sheet of metal that curves over the gutter opening, leaving only a small gap accessible. The curved guard allows water to flow into the gutter while dead leaves roll off the sheet and fall to the ground. These gutter guards cost around $3.50 to $6.50 per linear foot.

Mesh Gutter Guard

A mesh guard sits on top of your gutter and prevents rubble from entering. You can choose from materials like aluminum or steel and opt for different mesh sizes. Micro-mesh tends to be the most effective, but installation is more tedious. Prices range from 46 cents to $4  per linear foot based on the type of metal, the type of mesh, and whether the mesh is precut or on a roll.

Perforated Screen Gutter Guards

This sheet of perforated plastic or metal blocks objects from entering your gutters while water flows in easily. You can choose from materials like PVC plastic (51 cents to 86 cents per linear foot), aluminum (99 cents to $4 per linear foot), or steel (about $1 to $4 per linear foot).

How Much Do Gutter Guards Cost?

The national average cost to install a gutter guard is $335, and the average range is $69 to $600. Professional contractors may charge around $82 to $149 per hour for installation.

Labor costs vary depending on the type of home you live in. A single-story ranch home with a medium pitch roof may be a simple installation. On the other hand, a multi-story home with climbing vines or steep roofs may require safety equipment, extension ladders, or scaffolding, which will increase labor costs.

What Are the Downsides of Gutter Guard Installation?

Nothing is perfect, including gutter guards. Here are some of the potential downsides you’ll need to consider.

Gutter guards:

  • Aren't foolproof: Shingle dust, fine leaves, and other debris can still find their way into your gutters and cause clogs. A gutter guard may give you more breathing room between gutter maintenance and cleaning jobs, but you won't be rid of them.
  • May obstruct your view: While debris is building up over time, a screen or mesh gutter cover could obscure your view. That makes it harder to see when it’s time for a cleaning, which could lead to leaks or overflow.
  • Make it harder to clean gutters: If you've installed mesh or screen covers, you'll have to remove them every time you need to clean your gutters. This may require professional help.

How Do I Install Gutter Guards?

Installing foam or brush guards is simple enough for most people, as long as you’re comfortable on a ladder, since this type of installation is a matter of laying the guard into the existing gutter. If you're looking for a more permanent solution, like screens or mesh, you'll need experience. Measuring the gutters, cutting the mesh, choosing the right materials, and attaching the covers are all important steps in the task. In most cases, this is a job best left to the experts.

Let's look at a few key questions to ask before hiring a pro.

How to Find the Right Contractor

If you're considering hiring a professional to install a gutter guard, it’s a good idea to verify their expertise. These questions can help you make an informed decision.

  • Do you offer a warranty or guarantee?
    A warranty protects you from faulty or inferior quality materials. A guarantee from a reputable contractor may entitle you to a refund if their work proves shoddy.
  • Can you provide references?
    An experienced contractor will have a strong portfolio of work and will be willing and able to share images of completed gutter guard installations. They'll refer you to previous clients who can talk to you about their experience working with the contractor and how the work has held up over time.
  • Are you a licensed contractor?
    Make sure your contractor is licensed to perform work in your state. Licensed contractors must carry general liability insurance and workers compensation, so you're protected if any accidents occur on your property.

FAQs About Gutter Guard Installations

How Well Do Gutter Guards Work?

Efficiency depends on the type of gutter guard you've chosen. Brush and foam guards won't work as well as micro-mesh screen guards. All gutter guards can reduce the collection of foreign objects in your gutters.

What Is the Best Type of Gutter Guard?

Micro-mesh gutter guards tend to do most effectively prevent clogged gutters, which means you can spend less time unclogging your gutters. That said, they're not ideal for everyone, since cleaning them will likely require professional removal of the guards to access the gutter.

What Should I Consider Before Installing Gutter Guards?

Before jumping into a gutter guard installation project, think through your home, property, landscape, and needs.

How often do you usually clean your gutters? Can a cheaper DIY with foam serve the purpose? If you live in a relatively dry area, pricey gutter guards may not be worth the spend.

On the other hand, a gutter guard system may be worthwhile if you have a water drainage problem, you’re facing potential water damage from neglected gutters, the climate is more prone to precipitation, or leaf-shedding trees are located near the home.

The Final Word on Gutter Guards

Gutter guard installation may be a great idea if you don't have time to clean your rain gutters regularly. They'll help keep your rain gutters functioning well and your home free of water damage. But you'll still have to clean your gutter occasionally, and mesh or screen gutter guards will probably complicate the task. You may want to try a cheaper option and decide later if you need a lasting solution.

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