Angie’s List: Should I get gutter guards?

Paul F. P. Pogue
Angie’s List
Gutter guards can extend the time between gutter cleanings, but don’t think of them as a replacement for properly cleaned gutters. (Dreamstime/TNS)

If you’re sick and tired of climbing a ladder to scoop leaves out of gutters, gutter guards and covers may be an answer. However, they’re not a replacement for regular gutter cleaning.

Gutter guards and covers are essentially designed to act as a filter over your gutters in an attempt to block debris from entering your gutter without inhibiting the gutter’s ability to draw water away from the roof.

Although these additions are often advertised as a cure-all solution to cleaning your gutters, many models may only block larger debris, while allowing smaller debris to enter the gutters despite the shield. Fall leaves and spring flower petals, seed pods and buds can still block up your gutters over time.

Clogged gutters can damage your fascia, eaves, roof and foundations, so this is an important decision.

Gutter guards can be purchased in a variety of categories, including screens, inserts and reserve curves. The type you need will depend on your home’s location, as certain types of gutter guards are better in different circumstances.

What you should expect to pay for gutter guard installation will depend on the length of your gutters and the type of guards you need to purchase. Gutter guards and covers cost between $.40 and $10 per foot. You can expect installation to cost $9 per foot on average, but this will vary widely. Certain installation methods take more time. Snap-on guards go in quickly, while screws and bolts add to the installation time and cost.

If you have a steeply pitched roof or multiple rooflines, the job will require more time and cost.

Although having gutter guards and hoods dramatically reduces the number of times you will have to clean out your gutters, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t ever have to do the work. Experts recommend cleaning your gutters at least once every two years, even with gutter guards and hoods installed.

Here’s a look at the pros and cons of different gutter guards, and their material cost:

Metal mesh screens: These sheets of metal have holes punched through them and stop most debris. Anything smaller than the holes will still get through. They cost $1.20-$4 per foot.

Micro mesh screens: These steel or aluminum frames are covered with fine wire mesh. It’s one of the most effective options, but the material cost around $9 per foot.

Plastic or vinyl grid screens: These are not as durable as metal guards, but they’re among the cheapest, at $.40 to $4 per foot.

Full surface tension covers: These solid pieces allow water to flow into a gap between the guard and gutter. Debris flows off the edge. They’re effective, but cost between $4 and $8 per foot.

Gutter brushes: Long rolls of brush inside the tray allow water to pass through but block leaves. They do need to be periodically cleaned. They cost about $4 per foot.

Foam inserts: These fit inside the trough and allow water to pass through while leaves get washed off. They cost about $2 per foot, but are far less durable than other options.


Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit