How to Choose the Right Gutter Guards

Every spring and fall, most people have to get up on a ladder to clean out the gutters. It’s a dirty job. A really dirty job. That’s why some people turn to gutter guards. Gutter guards can be helpful…but not all gutter guards are created equal.

seamless gutter

There are several types of gutter guard to choose from:

  • Mesh gutter guards
  • Foam gutter guards
  • Gutter covers
  • Industrial nylon gutter guards

Of them all, only industrial nylon gutter guards are capable of keeping you off that ladder.

Mesh gutter guards still have a bunch of holes in them, so really fine debris can still get through. The worst culprits are pine needles and helicopter seeds. It may take both of those items a little longer to clog up your gutters, but they’re persistent, and they will manage eventually. That means you will have to uninstall your gutter guard, clean the gutter, and then re-install it. So much for saving time.

Next, there’s foam gutter guards. These are better. They fit right into your gutters, and they can be lifted in and out of your gutters with relative ease. They don’t admit any fine debris because they’re busy filling the gutters themselves, but because they’re made out of foam they do allow water to pass. The problem is foam doesn’t do a good job of standing up to precipitation. You’ll get a year out of them at most before they’ll need to be replaced.

Gutter covers are just loony, in my opinion. They don’t let much water into your gutters. 90% of that water just goes right over the side of your house, which defeats the purpose of having gutters in the first place!

Industrial nylon solves all of these problems. It is water permeable, so water gets through just like it’s supposed to. But small debris still can’t get through these gutter guards, which means your gutters stay clean and clear. The nylon lasts for about 25 years, which makes it an excellent long-term investment for any homeowner. If you live in a snowy area I’m also told the black color attracts the sunlight enough to melt snow and ice, which prevents ice dams. I serve the Tampa Bay metro area, so I wouldn’t know, but if it’s true that’s just one more reason why these home gutter guards really work.

Now, industrial nylon isn’t 100% maintenance free. You’ll still have to clean the tops of the gutter guards from time to time. They can’t work if they’re covered in leaves, and nothing stops debris from accumulating on top of these gutter guards. However, this chore takes a lot less time and effort than a full gutter cleaning does. For most people, that still makes this type of gutter guard an ideal investment.

Todd Dudkewic has served the Tampa Bay metro area as a licensed gutter contractor for the past 35 years. Learn more about Todd and his company at

Erin Emanuel