Common Types of Gutter Guards: Explained

We’ve talked a lot about the integral part gutters have in protecting your home from environmental damage. Gutter guards are an added feature intended to reduce the possibility of damage caused by clogged gutters, as well as limit the frequency of cleanings and maintenance. There are many different types of gutter guards, and all claim to be the best. However, before we discuss which gutter guard we prefer, let’s take a look at the design options available on the market today.


Gutter screens come in several varieties including roll-out, hinged, and snap-on. They are typically manufactured from plastic or metal. These type of guards are usually promoted as easy to install and inexpensive.

One significant issue with gutter screens is that the ends of the sections aren't sealed-off.  This creates gaps where leaves, debris and sticks can get through.  It also creates opportunities for small animals such as squirrels and birds to wedge their way under the screen to nest.  Another problem that arises is leaves, sticks and stems getting caught in the large screen openings, creating a greater problem of built up debris. Oak tassels and helicopters are also notorious for finding their way in and getting caught on top.

Also, if the screens simply roll out or lay on without secure fasteners, they can blow out of position or completely off the gutter altogether.

Bottle brush guards simply lay in the gutter channel. Pretty much the only positive thing about this type of guard is that it isn’t visible from the ground. The brushes may help a little with large leaves, but actually trap smaller debris and seedlings in the gutter. The bristles snag almost all types of debris and actually hinder it from being washed away with a normal rain. Plus, if you’re looking for easy maintenance, this most definitely is not your option. In order to clean out your gutters you will have to first clean the brushes by removing them completely and shaking out all that clogged debris. At least when cleaning gutters with no guards at all it is easy to scoop and bag the debris.


Gutter inserts are the least effective of leaf protection options. They come in different formats, from foam to the rounded bristles we discussed above. Inserts are designed to be placed into the gutter trough and repel leaves and debris while permitting rain to pass through the membrane or brush. They seemingly work for about a year, then the material begins to deteriorate. This product has also been found to trap fine particulate matter in the gutter, making it more difficult to clean effectively. Another issue with inserts is that they can't absorb rainwater fast enough.  Even with moderate rainfalls, the water runs directly over the gutter, causing landscaping and drainage issues.


Permanent gutter covers are professionally installed systems that are designed to allow rainwater to flow in and debris to fall away. They are permanently attached with nails to the roof or under the bottom couple rows of shingles. Anytime you put holes in a roof you increase the risk of roof leaks. These systems advertise the water adhesion theory. It’s a dome type system that the water is supposed to adhere to as it falls and wrap around the cover. The issue is that with heavy rains the water shoots right over the guard. This issue also applies to any solid gutter cover. Another  problem with these type of guards is that the opening will allow for debris to enter (especially maple seeds) and for small birds to enter and build nests. Since the covers are fixed, permanent systems, there is no way to get into the gutter to clean it out without ripping out the system and risking roof and/or gutter damage. 

Through all of our years of business and experience, Zander Gutter Contracting has researched and tested several types of gutter protection. In our opinion, The LeafTech Gutter Protection System is by far the most effective system out there for the price and is the only product we will stand by.

LeafTech Gutter Guard will: 

  • Protects your gutters from leaves, seedlings, pine needles, birds and squirrels

  • Fits securely over the gutter while still enabling water to flow over and through

  • Can be used on all sizes of K Style and Half Round gutters, including copper

  • Pays for itself within 3-5 years by eliminating annual cleaning costs

  • Comes in many colors & copper

  • Ends are sealed to prevent animals from nesting

Click here to learn more oh how the LeafTech system works.

It’s often a commonplace practice of many roofing contractors and builders to offer a gutter guard system either free or at 'extreme discounts' as an added bonus of new construction.  These “cost effective” gutter guards often result in homeowners discovering a clogged mess when it comes to cleaning time. We are constantly removing all types of dysfunctional gutter guards. Removing these covers to clean can result in additional fees for time and labor. If you are in the market for a new roof or gutters and are offered free or discounted gutter guard be sure to ask what type of guard it is, if there is a no-clog warranty, and consider it carefully before having them installed.

It’s important to remember that even with the best and highest quality gutter guard system, your gutters still need to be checked periodically to make sure they are functioning properly. It’s tempting to assume that with a gutter guard you can forget about regular maintenance. Winter snow and ice, falling tree limbs, and industrious animals can cause damage that is often undetected until water damage occurs. Regardless if you choose to install guards or not, keeping your gutters maintained is critical to avoiding water damage to your home.

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