Gutter Guard Installation: 10 Tips for DIY Installation

Rain gutters play a crucial role in keeping our homes in good repair. Gutters collect rain from the roof and ensure your home stays safe from water damage, whether on the roof or the foundation. Gutter guards, pieces of mesh that go over gutters to prevent debris from clogging anything, can be expensive, so you may want to install them yourself.

When installing gutter guards yourself, it’s best to use snap-on guards. Snap-on gutter guards will make the entire process much quicker and easier if you don’t have much experience. Take time to plan everything out and do as much pre-installation as possible before getting on a ladder or the roof.

Many gutter guards on the market today can be installed by the average DIY’er. If you intend to install your gutter guards yourself, read on because the information I compiled below will be of great help.

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Best Tips for Installing Your Own Gutter Guards

If you choose to install your gutter guards on your own, consider the following tips to make the job go as smoothly as possible:

1. Take the Time to Organize and Plan

Before you begin the installation, it is good to organize your supplies and plan out the project before starting. 

An excellent first step is to list all the required materials and tools, such as wire cutters, gloves, metal crimpers, measuring tape, etc. Be sure to include the appropriate screws and other hardware needed on your list. You want to have everything you need in your possession before you even get on the ladder. 

2. Check Your Roof Warranty

If you have a roof that is still under warranty, check the policy before installing your gutter guards. 

Ensure that your warranty coverage will not become void if you alter your roof with DIY gutter guards.

The same holds for your home insurance policy. If you inadvertently compromise the integrity of your roof with your installation, you may not be protected if your roof sustains damage in a storm.

3. Clean Your Gutters 

Before installing your gutter guard, you will want to ensure your gutters are clean. Clear away any debris and, if possible, run a hose into the gutter, making sure the water has a clear path through the downspouts. 

4. Dry Your Gutters

Once you have cleaned your gutters, be sure to dry them before starting your gutter installation. If you need to apply any adhesives or sealants during installation, it’s crucial to have a dry surface for application. 

5. Inspect Your Gutters for Damage

Before installing your gutter guards, be sure that you inspect your gutters for signs of age and damage. If your gutters are not in good repair, there is little sense in investing time and money into this project.

Things to look for are rust, holes, bends, and cracks. If you find any of these conditions, be sure to fix them before installing your guards.

You also want to ensure that your gutters are not loose or falling away from the fascia.

6. Read the Manufacturer’s Instructions

We are all guilty of it. As experienced DIY’ers, we often think we can figure it out on our own. In the case of gutter guard installation, it is best to follow the instructions as close as possible. Gutter guard installation isn’t a project where mistakes are easily corrected, and the smallest detail could make or break your success. 

7. Do as Much Work as Possible While On the Ground

It is an excellent idea to do as many tasks as possible while still on solid ground and not upon the ladder. 

You should do jobs such as measuring and cutting gutter guard pieces on the ground instead of attempting to do it on the roof or while standing on a ladder.

8. Use Snap-On Guards for the Easiest Installation

If you are looking for the quickest, easiest gutter guard install, snap-on guards are probably your best bet.

Snap-on screen guards can fit any size gutter and often do not require any tools to install. These guards are a quick fix for clogged gutters as they don’t need a lot of time to install. They are also inexpensive compared to other gutter guard systems.

9. Metal Lasts Longer than Plastic

If you want your gutter guard system to last as long as possible, choose one made of aluminum, not plastic. 

Although plastic tends to be cheaper, it also cracks, fades, and warps over time. Aluminum guards cost more but will last much longer than plastic.

The longest-lasting guards are the metal mesh type that filters out everything but water. 

10. Wind-Proof Your Gutter System

Wind can be the worst enemy of your gutter system.

Be sure to install gutter guard fasteners to strengthen your system against wind and other harsh weather such as hail. Gutters without reinforcement are prone to screens and other guard components blowing off your roof. 

Is it Hard to Install Gutter Guards?

Depending on the gutter guard system you choose, installing gutter guards is typically not difficult. Foam and brush guards are very easy to install. Just measure the length of your gutters, cut the required size of foam or brush, and install it in your gutter. 

Don’t worry if you measure incorrectly and don’t cut enough of the foam or brush. Add in another piece to fill the gap. You can piece these two types of gutter guards together without affecting their efficiency. 

Conversely, if you have cut a piece that ends up being too long for the gutter, you can remove the excess without any problem.

Many companies offer perforated screen and reverse curve gutter guards for the DIY’er that wants an easy installation. The difficulty level of installing one of these systems will depend on factors such as the condition of the gutters and the installer’s skill. 

Higher-end micro-mesh screens like the Leaffilter gutter guard system are trickier to install, and so they require professional installation.

Can You Install LeafFilter Yourself?

LeafFilter is a popular brand of mesh gutter guards. It is made of stainless steel micro-mesh and intended for installation on existing gutters. It starts at around $12.00 (installed) per foot and can go as high as $35.00 per foot. The cost will vary depending on your roof and how many stories you have. 

The LeafFilter gutter guard system must be installed by a certified Leaffilter professional. Investing in a Leaffilter system is a long-term investment in the longevity of your home.

Once you’ve installed LeafFilter, you will never have to worry about clogged gutters again. A lifetime warranty backs this system, and you will never have to worry about clogged gutters again as it offers a permanent solution to the problem.

Types of Gutter Guards

Before you get to the installation stage, you must choose your gutter guard system. When choosing which gutter guard system is best for you, consider the following; how well the system will fit your existing gutters, budget, and the climate where you live. 

Most gutter guard systems are DIY friendly, while a couple requires professional installation. Here are five different types of gutter guards and what you should know about them.

1. Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards are made from porous foam polyurethane formed into long blocks set right into your gutter. They are triangular, which creates a channel underneath them to allow water to flow.

The foam keeps out all types of debris and is especially effective at keeping out pine needles. Debris settles on top of the foam, where it will eventually blow away, or you’ll need to clean it manually. Water finds its way through the foam into the gutter.

This type of gutter guard is also suitable for keeping snow and ice from accumulating in your gutter, making it an excellent choice for a cold climate. 

Installing foam gutter guards is certainly easy enough for a DYI project, as they need to be measured, cut, and placed in the gutter. That’s it! It is recommended, of course, that you clean your gutters before installing the foam.

Foam gutter guards will need replacing about every 2-3 years, depending on whether you leave them out during the winter, in which case they won’t last as long. You should expect to pay around $100 for 32 feet of foam.

2. Brushes 

At around $3.00 per foot, gutter brushes are the most economical solution for clogged gutters. Brushes are cylinder-shaped and made with thick, heavy plastic bristles which catch leaves and larger debris while letting water pass through the gutter.

Brushes are also an excellent way to keep snow from accumulating in your gutters, as they will stay on top of the brush until it melts into water and runs off. Leaving them out during winter, however, will shorten their lifespan.

This type of gutter guard will last around 4-5 years and need cleaning once or twice a year, depending on how much debris reaches your roof.

3. Perforated Gutter Guards

This gutter guard type consists of a metal or plastic sheet (PCV) perforated with small square or diamond-shaped holes. The sheet slides under the shingles and then fits over the edge of the gutter. 

These easy-to-clean gutter guards allow water to flow freely down the roof and into the gutter while catching larger debris such as leaves and needles. Unfortunately, these sheets don’t typically catch granular matter from your shingles as the perforations are too large. 

Perforated gutter guards will last indefinitely, especially if you choose the metal version. PCV may become weakened over time depending on conditions and usage. However, with regular cleaning, both versions should last 5-10 years and cost around $2.00 to $4.00 per foot.

4. Reverse-Curve Gutter Guards

These gutter guards are also known as Surface Tension Gutter Guards, a classic design that has been around for many years. This gutter guard is excellent at keeping large debris out of your gutter, as well as small animals and nesting birds.

The curved guard fits under the edge of your shingles and curves over the gutter, leaving just enough space for water to run down the curve and under so that it can enter the gutter. Everything else falls off the edge of the guard, including snow. 

Although there are some DIY options for this type of gutter guard, it is usually best to have a certified professional or dealer do the install. 

Professional installation and yearly cleaning will help this gutter guard system last for many years and costs around $10.00 per foot installed.

5. Mesh Screens

If you have an asphalt shingle roof and notice an accumulation of shingle granules in your gutters, mesh screens may be the best solution.

Mesh screen guards on the market today are made of super-fine metal mesh that only allows water to pass through. These guards fit tightly over the gutter and butt closely up the edge of the roof.

Any debris that does not blow away will accumulate on the screens and is easy to access and clean off. 

These guards are a step-up from the perforated guards as the holes are so small that they are barely perceptible to the human eye. They offer a permanent solution to blocked gutters.

Mesh guards need to be installed by a professional. If you do not install them properly, they can be prone to gapping, bending, or become loose and ineffective. 

With a yearly cleaning, these guards can last a lifetime. The longevity of these guards justifies the higher price tag.

Final Thoughts

If installed and maintained correctly, gutter guards are worth installing on your house. 

Depending on how heavily treed your area is and how much rain you get, a gutter guard could save you a significant amount of time and money.

There are guard systems suited for every budget and installation skill level. Even the most inexpensive product can help keep your gutters clear and working correctly.

Sources

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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