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Products and Materials

Products and Materials

Simple Screen Gutter Guards Better Than Pro-Installed Systems (and way cheaper)

comments (15) August 17th, 2010 in Blogs
Mike_Guertin Mike Guertin, editorial advisor

Flat gutter screen - 12 years of service
Crowned gutter screen performs best 
Foam gutter insert is easy to install but collects small debris on top.
Flat gutter screen - 12 years of serviceClick To Enlarge

Flat gutter screen - 12 years of service

Photo: (c) Mike Guertin


I love Consumer Reports' subtitle to their evaluation of gutter guards - "Do-it-yourself systems beat the pros."The results of the gutter guard testing appears in the September issue and confirms what I suspected; simple gutter screens work better at keeping leaves out and letting water into the gutter than the solid gutter caps with louvers along the front edge that are typically installed by dealer/installers. And when you compare the price - $20 to $30 per linear foot (installed) for the solid gutter caps vs. gutter screens that can be had for 30 cents per foot – it's a no-brainer.Even if you hire someone to install an inexpensive gutter screen you can save thousands of dollars; plus the screens work better.

Simple gutter screens work best  The gutter screens that seem to work best are models with a half-round crown shape.   Metal screens hold their own crown shape and plastic ones lay over half-round clips to keep the crown form (photo). Two models from Amerimax were picked as 'Best Buys' by Consumer Reports.  The diamond holes in the plastic and metal matrix are ¼ in. to 3/8 in. and have minimal solid web material in between.I suspect that the greater percentage of open area to material helps let the water enter easier during heavy rains.On the downside, the crown shape makes these gutter screens visible from the ground. 

I installed flat plastic gutter screens on my house 12 years ago; the low profile can't be seen from ground level (photo).I haven't had to clean the gutters yet but during heavy thunderstorm downpours some water leaps over the gutter.I think the wider plastic matrix between holes reduces the amount of water that can filter through.

Solid gutter caps have an Achilles heel   Solid gutter caps rely on the surface tension to get water into the louvers.  Surface tension works fine when the rain is light (or on home show displays) but the force of heavy rain exceeds surface tension so the water cascades over the front edge rather than rolling around it and into the slots. Sure, most of the gutter caps do a good job at keeping the leaves out but if they only collect half the water – what's the point – especially at a premium price tag.

Foam inserts are easy to install but debris piles up on top   I installed samples of Owens Corning RapidFlow gutter foam inserts on one section of my gutters to see how they compared (photo).RapidFlow is similar to three models tested by Consumer Reports.They're easy to install and run $4 - $5 per linear foot – more than ten times the cost of gutter screens.On the downside, I've found they collect fine debris on top that reduces how much water passes through the foam when it rains.Spruce needles, maple seeds and pieces of leaves lodge in the top of the foam and don't blow off.


posted in: Blogs, Gutter Guard, Gutter, Leaf Guard, Leaf Screen, Gutter Screen, Gutter Cap

Comments (15)

Globalmeshservices Globalmeshservices writes: This is really fabulous news article regarding to Gutter Guard. I appreciate your work. Thank you for sharing with us.
Posted: 4:34 am on December 9th

Gutterpro Gutterpro writes: Well, Gutter guards play vital role for your home. It’s save you from rain water, sunlight, leaves etc. I have read your article, really this is a beneficial news for every people. Thank you for sharing with us. I will wait for your next article.
Posted: 12:27 am on December 9th

Jackaustin Jackaustin writes:
I like your Blog it give me very informative information, which helpful for problems.Please give such
valuable information regularly.
Posted: 5:02 am on June 4th

webfunz webfunz writes: Just went through a complete roof repair nightmare and had to replace a large section of rain gutter along with the entire roof. I never realized how expensive this stuff can be. Taught me a lesson about being more vigilant on cleaning the gutters. After the roof and gutter repair I can't afford the full gutter guards but I found something much cheaper I hope will work. - They're not expensive but that's what kind of concerns me (the "get what you pay for" issue). Should I wait and save up for the full gutter guards or would something like this work? Anyone ever used these or something similar?
Posted: 6:06 pm on May 14th

frenchy10 frenchy10 writes: I have tried several gutter cover/guards. I find that none are quite perfect. However the system offered by worked and looked best for me over the years.
Posted: 7:55 pm on November 6th

markgoth markgoth writes: I use the Mastershield guter guard simple because it allows water and water alone. I've had many problems with the pine needles that keep on piling on my gutter and I resorted to Mastershield and it worked for me.
Posted: 4:26 am on April 27th

bluegoat bluegoat writes: Dick's Lumber in Vancouver is where I got the ground level gutter cleanouts.
Posted: 2:07 am on September 3rd

CubeSquare CubeSquare writes: Mike,
Your my new hero. I'm so pleased to see Consumer Reports enter the blog space of Fine Home Building. It just raises Fine Home Building up another notch in my personal opinion of the magazine. I've always loved both. I have nothing to do with Consumer Reports, other than being a subscriber. So, when I read your report about gutter screens, two of my subscriptions were validated. Thanks, CubeSquare.
Posted: 4:08 pm on August 26th

cdnseller cdnseller writes: Bluegoat:

Where did you get those cleanouts? I need to get some!
Posted: 1:33 pm on August 26th

Jstdky Jstdky writes: If you have maple trees, these screen-type gutter guards are pretty much worthless. The seed pods (the little helicopters) that maple trees drop in the spring get caught in the screens. The seed end slips through, but the wing gets caught and you have to go up and pull them out by hand. They won't wash out with water, won't suck out with a vacuum, and won't blow out with a leaf blower.

So if you put this type guard on, cut down your maple trees!

Posted: 8:10 pm on August 23rd

bluegoat bluegoat writes: I went for a two step system, one install the smart screens (aluminum from Canadian Tire - recommended by holmes on homes) and secondly I installed cleanouts at the ground level. I haven't seen too many stores that carry the cleanouts but it is a piece that flares out and has a screen. The other thing I did was to remove the filter at the downspout gutter interface that prevents debris from falling down there. Anything that does get past the smart screens will then flow down the downspout and end up in the ground level cleanout.
Posted: 4:56 pm on August 23rd

rkh2 rkh2 writes: I have the gutter guards that the article is talking about and they work great for me. My only problem is that I have many tall pines on my lot and the needles get stuck standing up which makes for a messy looking gutter from the ground but the gutters are functioning fully. I also have several maple trees which drop a bunch of leaves in fall and the guards do an excellent job of keeping them out. I just use scaffolding with wheels to do my annual cleaning and have had the guards now for many years. I am quite pleased with them and the price at Home Depot is quite right.
Posted: 8:29 am on August 23rd

bigswede69 bigswede69 writes: I don't know if I'm getting dumb in my old age Bob.....but
I'm confused!!What did you put in your gutters and what did you tear out and what cost you 250(other than the ladder)
Bear in mind I'm getting up there in my 70's and don't think as fast as I used to!!
Posted: 6:43 am on August 23rd

BobGaffney BobGaffney writes: After two sets of estimates, one from a roofer, one from a "specialist, both over $3,000, I bought a taller ladder and installed the brown snap-ins from Home Depot 4 years ago. I put them in all the gutters of my house and barn. The ones I bought were the "premium" ones with the screens, and in higher rains the water flowed over them. So I went up the ladder again and tore the screens off (they peeled off easily) and haven't had a problem since. Total cost about $250 (including the new ladder) and as far as I'm concerned that's it for gutter cleaning for another 5 years. The only spot I need to clean is an inside corner where my big barn roof makes an ell - debris accumulates for about 2 feet, and I have to clean it once a year. So I agree with the writer - forget the pros, or at least instruct them to install the stuff you buy yourself at HD.
Posted: 6:58 pm on August 20th

paintrboy paintrboy writes: Here in NS we've had a few gutter's that have been ripped off from ice accumulation in the winter. Was especially bad a couple of years ago. Most company's when contacted stated that the guards "should come out in late fall and be re-installed in the spring.". If this is the case then why not just clean them if I gotta get up there every season anyway.
Also a big help is to get the largest downspout available.
Posted: 2:43 pm on August 17th

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