Gutter Guard: The Three Types

So you’ve decided to cover your gutters with a gutter guard. Now you’re faced with a choice: which kind to get? There are three basic kinds, two more common than the other.

Mesh Screens

Mesh screens have been around since the beginning of the gutter guard business. They range from simple plastic diamond grids that screw into your gutters, all the way up to technologically complex systems such as LeafFilter, which use multiple screens to capture debris and grit.

Mesh screens have a distinct advantage: cost. While the really good systems will be relatively costly, if you really want to toss on a mesh screen, an afternoon at the hardware store and on a ladder will likely have it installed for you. Granted, you’ll likely be going back and reinstalling the cheaper options, which are designed to be screwed into your roof or otherwise fastened to your gutter: this is where you get what you pay for.

Their big disadvantage? Cleaning. While the screens will be able to keep debris out of your gutters, eventually those screens will become clogged, and you’ll have to clean them out. Most systems are at least designed so that removing the screens won’t be necessary; you can just wipe away the debris, although cheaper systems may require you to put in more elbow grease. At least it’ll be easier!

Nose-Forward Solid Gutter Guard

Next are the solid covers with a nose, like Gutter Helmet®. These work using capillary action: that is, the tendency of water to stick to a surface and stick to itself rather than just be pulled apart by gravity. It’s how the solid covers collect the water while dumping the debris: the water follows the nose into the gutter while the debris just slides right off.

While not necessarily for the home handyman, as some systems need to be professionally installed, the nose-forward design offers some real advantages in terms of protecting and keeping your gutters clear, as well as keeping you off a ladder. It’s much harder for debris, especially tiny particles from roof shingles, to get in compared with a mesh system, and unlike a mesh system, you’ll never need to clean off the covers. Many nose-forward gutter guard designs incorporate advances to help push the debris off your roof, to make it easier for their customers.

However, all that debris washing off has to go somewhere, which means you’re going to need to do a little more raking than you’re used to. But at least you won’t be climbing anything to do it!

Simple Gutter Guard

These are rare, and mostly found as part of seamless systems: a cover with a small lip that still leaves a large gap, and is mostly designed to stop debris washed off a roof.

These are mostly around for ease of use when extruding the seamless system, and have largely been left behind by advancing technology in the seamless gutter industry, which allows gutter contractors to extrude gutters with very complex covers and designs. Nonetheless, you may still occasionally see this, although using it seems an awkward compromise between screens and nose-forward designs.

There you have it: the three covers you’ll see. Choose wisely, as your back and schedule will thank you.