A Guide To Gutter Guards
If you find yourself spending too much time and effort cleaning out your gutters and fixing leaks, it may be time to look into gutter guards. Gutter guards are becoming a common sight in homes throughout the country these days, thanks to the development of easy-to-install guards which don’t require professional assistance. Marketed as a method to reduce or even eliminate the need for gutter maintenance, gutter guards come in a variety of forms. Many are effective at keeping gutters free of debris, but each type also has its drawbacks. We’ve compiled this list of the pros and cons of the most common gutter guards to help you decide whether or not to invest in gutter guards for your home or business.
Mesh guards are metal, vinyl, or plastic screens perforated with tiny holes, which rest on top of your gutters. The screens prevent debris from falling into the gutters, while still allowing water in through the perforations. Leaves and other small debris will usually wash over the guard, and hopefully off the roof entirely, limiting the need for cleaning.
- Easy to install
- Lightweight, limiting impact on gutters
- Effective at preventing gutter clogs from even small debris
- May simply shift debris to above the gutters, limiting their effectiveness
- Limits water flow into the gutters, increasing chance of overflow
- Often don’t last as long as other types of guards
Reverse Curve Guards
Reverse curve gutter guards are sheets of material placed over the gutters which bend backward at the edge of the gutter, channelling water into a small opening. The opening is just wide enough for water to pass into, while debris passes over the edge of the system. The guard is often made of material which easily passes debris across it, providing momentum to jettison leaves and needles off the roof while the water is routed into the gutters.
- Very effective at keeping debris, snow, and ice off of roofs and out of gutters
- Creates a surface unsuitable for bird or rodent nests
- Can usually handle large volumes of rainfall without losing effectiveness
- Often very expensive
- Vulnerable to damage from falling branches and other pieces of heavy debris
- Openings can occasionally be clogged by leaves and pine needles
Bottle Brush Guards
Taking the shape of their namesake, bottle brush guards are lengths of metal wire or other material covered in bristles. The bristles fill gutter and prevent leaves and other debris from reaching the bottom of the gutter, while still allowing water to pass through. Bottle brush guards typically do not pass debris over the edge of the gutter, but rather trap the debris in the bristles until it breaks down and washes away.
- Cheap and easy to install or remove
- Resilient and easy to replace if damaged
- Deters the construction of insect, rodent, and bird nests
- Not well suited for large amounts of debris, since the debris stays in the guard
- Does not eliminate the risk of plant growth within gutters, as seeds may become trapped in the guard
- Guard still needs to be cleaned periodically
Nylon gutter guards are thick sheets of nylon which are formed to fit into a gutter system, creating a screen over the top of the gutter. The screen allows water through while repelling debris, similar to a mesh guard. Unlike mesh guards, however, nylon guards are not fastened to the roof or the gutters, and do not rust. Nylon also allows more water to flow into the gutter than micro-perforated metal or vinyl.
- Light and sturdy
- Immune to rust, UV rays, and resistant to corrosion
- Can be shaped to fit most gutter systems
- Can be brittle, and break or tear under extreme conditions or heavy debris
- Does not fill entire gutter, leaving room for plant growth or nests under the cover
Working in a similar fashion to nylon guards and mesh screens, foam guards are placed directly into the gutter and create a screen for water to pass through and debris to pass over. Foam guards are typically pyramidal in shape, with a flat edge against the side of the gutter closer to the roof and the other forming the screen. This leaves a channel for unimpeded water flow beneath the guard in the outer half of the gutter. Foam guards are usually cheaper than nylon.
- Cheap and easy to install
- Often treated with chemicals to prevent moss growth
- Does not allow visible debris into the gutter
- Can be filled-in by micro debris from plants and shingles
- Vulnerable to accumulating oil from tar paper and other roofing materials, which can form a hydrophobic barrier, limiting effectiveness of the gutter
- Usually needs to be replaced within one to three years
This guide is an overview of the pros and cons of the most common gutter guards. The most important factors in the effectiveness of gutter guards for your home are the climate, proximity of trees, and your roofing material. If your home is more than 200 feet away from trees or other tall foliage, gutter guards may be completely unnecessary. Talk with an expert at your local hardware store to find out what makes sense for you.