Should I Get Gutter Guards? (Updated for 2021) | High Five Gutters

Should I Get Gutter Guards? (Updated for 2021)

By High Five Gutters on December 14, 2020

Gutter guards are a system installed on your home gutters that is supposed to prevent leaves and other debris from entering your gutters. The companies that make and sell them claim that you’ll never have to climb a ladder to clean your gutters again. Or at least not as often as without them. The question is, do they work, and is it worth installing gutter guards on your roof?

In This Article:

Types of Gutter Guards

There are multiple types of gutter guard systems out there. Some of the most common are listed below:

  • Gutter Screens
  • Gutter Covers
  • Gutter Helmet
  • Leaf Guards

They have different names but they are all designed do the same thing – prevent leaves and debris from entering your gutter system. When properly installed and functional, these systems do prevent large items like leaves and twigs from entering your gutter. One downfall to consider is that these items can collect on the gutter edge and build up. When wet, this build up can add significant weight to your gutter system, causing damage to the guards themselves, as well as the roof fascia.

Leaves on gutter guard

In addition, small items like dirt and tree seeds can slip through the guard mesh and collect in your gutter interior. If this debris is not cleaned out on a regular basis, it will lead to large gutter system issues such as blockages or sagging.

Brush Inserts

Brush guards a a DIY product that fits inside of your gutters and is supposed to prevent leaves and other large items from entering your gutters. Unfortunately, brush guards are prickly and will hold onto hundreds of leaves for the duration of the season. It’s best to avoid gutter brush inserts because not only do they not prevent debris from entering your gutters, they can also cause additional blockage should your gutters develop a blockage.

Foam Inserts

Similar to to others, foam inserts are another DIY product that fits inside your gutters and is designed to block any debris from entering your gutters. Foam inserts do block a large percentage of the gutter openings and will prevent most large items from entering your gutters. The challenge ist that the material can soak up water and become a petri dish of mold, mildew, and goo. And once foam guards are installed, it’s no easy task to remove them for cleaning. Once they’re removed they go into the garbage.

Mesh Screens

There are many versions of screen gutter guards. Some with large openings, others with small “micro” openings. These screen systems generally work well after their initial install, but they soon get clogged and blocked by leaves, twigs, and other debris. Once this happens, rain water has a difficult time draining through and often flows over the top of the screen and over the edge of your gutters. This can cause drainage issues along the side of your home. You can prevent this with annual maintenance, but the challenge there is that the maintenance will be more expensive due to the additional labor of removing and re-installing the mesh gutter guard system after cleaning.


A hood or a helmet system is a type of gutter guard that uses a solid sheet of aluminum or plastic to entirely cover your gutter opening. It leaves only a small channel at the edge in order to allow water to flow through, into your inner gutter tracks. These systems are better than the others listed above, but they do not prevent all debris from entering your gutter system. You will still run into issues with debris needing to be cleaned out, and similar to the mesh screen system above, you will encounter additional costs to remove and re-install a hood system after a cleaning.

What Gutter Guards Do Well

Even with their potential down sides, there are still a few things that gutter guards do well. A properly installed and maintained gutter guard system on a house surrounded by mature trees may actually be beneficial.

Blocking Leaves And Debris

If you live in an area with large, mature trees, gutter guards may not be a terrible idea. They may prevent large leaves and debris from clogging your gutters and keep the flowing freely. Assuming you go with a professionally installed, high quality system, you may be able to avoid cleaning your gutters for a few years at a time.

What Gutter Guards Do Poorly

With all of the online articles espousing the benefits of gutter guards, you are sure to find an equal number of articles explaining their downfalls. Some of the largest being ice dams and increased costs of scheduled maintenance.

Ice Dams

Some high end systems having built-in heating elements used to prevent ice from forming on your gutter systems. These heated systems will prevent ice from building up on your gutters, but will not prevent ice sheets from forming on your roof and sliding downwards, over your gutters. These ice sheets can slide down, over your gutters and cause hazardous situation for anybody or anything directly below.

Regular Maintenance

While gutter gutter guards may not require annual maintenance, they do still require scheduled maintenance. The mesh or grates on a gutter guard system prevent most debris from falling in, they do not prevent all debris from falling inside. After some time, this debris will build up and cause blockages and similar issues. If/when this happens, your gutter technician will be required to remove the gutter guard system in order to clean your gutters. This requires additional labor for the removal and re-installation of the guard system. There is a cost associated with the additional labor, so you should do the math to determine if the cost of installation + maintenance is worth it to you.

How Much Do Gutter Guards Cost

The average cost of gutter guards is between $6.00 and $10.00 per linear foot installed.

The average size of a house is around 2,000 square feet. Installing gutter guards in a house this size may cost you upwards of $2,000. This assumes 200 linear feet of gutters at $10 per linear foot.

If you were to go with a DIY option, you could spend about $1 per linear foot on mesh screens at a total of $200-250, self installed. A common issue with these DIY systems is that the gutter attachments are not as sturdy as professional installs leading to collapsing and failing guards.

Failing gutter guards

Purchasing expensive gutter guards will cost you roughly what you may spend to have your gutters cleaned annually for 5-10 years without gutter guards, depending on the trees and landscaping in your area. And you will still need to clean the gutters and guards a few times over that 5-10 year period.

There are a few additional ways of gauging the cost of gutter guard installation:

DIY Install

This will be your cheapest option. An example cost of DIY gutter guards is $200. This assumes $1.00 per square foot of materials installed on 200 linear feet of gutters. This can be achieved over a weekend with a tall ladder and a proper gutter attachment system.

Professional Install of a Big Box Product

If you have a handyman available to install a product you purchased from Home Depot or Lowe’s, a typical gutter guard system install will cost you about $200-300 in parts and another $300-500 in labor. A total between $500-800 can be expected for a handyman install. This price will vary depending on the skill of your handyman and your negotiating abilities.

Professional Installation of a Proprietary Product

As mentioned above, a professional installation of gutter guards will run you around $2,000 for 200 linear feet. You may be able to find a bit lower or a bit higher, depending on your location or the quality of materials used, but this is a rough nationwide average cost based on house size, linear footage of gutters, quality of materials, and skill of installers.

Are Gutter Guards Worth The Money

This is the big question. Is it worth investing in a gutter guard system, or should you pay for a professional to come out to manually clean your gutters? In our opinion, the cost and hassle of a gutter guard system is not worth it. Having professionals, like High Five Gutters, come out once per year is an inexpensive and hassle-free process that will ensure years of clear water flow and leak prevention.

Increased Cost Per Cleaning

If you install a mesh system or a helmet/head system, you will be charged extra by any gutter cleaning company that you hire. An average home has around 200 linear feet of gutters, and this can add substantial cost to a basic gutter cleaning due to the extra time of removing and re-installing the guard system

Damage Prone

Gutter guards, particularly plastic gutter guards, are incredibly damage prone. The plastic material easily warps and cracks, especially after a season or two in the elements. Be cautious if you’re placing a ladder on your roof or mounting Christmas lights. These actions can easily damage your gutter guards, rendering them ineffective in that broken section.

So What Should You Do

If you haven’t figured it out by now, High Five Gutters does not recommend gutter guards. We recommend a regularly scheduled routine of gutter cleaning from a professional vendor. Some homes are ok with a once per year schedule, while others would benefit from a twice per year cleaning. Generally, your cleaning requirements will depend on the volume of mature trees and bushes surrounding your home. You can also ask your gutter technician for their opinion during your next cleaning appointment.