Before we discuss the different varieties of gutter guards, we should describe what a gutter guard is. The reason you have to clean your gutters in the first place is that leaves, twigs, acorns, and other small debris fall into the troughs and clog the system so that water cannot run through them smoothly. So, a gutter guard prevents the debris from getting into the gutter system in the first place. They are something that blocks large debris from getting into your gutters and there are two main types.
The first type of gutter guard is the mesh or screen variety. With mesh or screen gutter guards, a piece of aluminum or plastic with small holes is fitted over the gutter. The holes are large enough to let water through, but too small to allow leaves or other tree debris to fall in. This is the less expensive kind of gutter protection system. You can even make your own gutter screens with some chicken wire. The advantage of this kind of system is that it is easy to remove if you do need to get inside the gutters to clean. One disadvantage is that it is possible that someone might be able to see the screen from the ground and they are not necessarily the most attractive addition to your home.
The second variety of gutter guards is solid covers. Instead of a mesh or screen with many holes covering the top of the gutters, there is a solid piece of plastic or aluminum. Then, at the very edge of the gutter system there is a small side slot that lets water in. You might be wondering why the water doesn’t just fall off the edge if the entire gutter is blocked by a solid barrier. The answer is something called water adhesion. The water running down your roof clings to the gutter guard longer than the debris that falls off the edge of the roof. As the water slows down and clings to the edge, it falls into the gutter. This type of gutter protection is much more attractive to the observer, but it is much more expensive.
The advantage of having a gutter guard system at all is that you will have to clean your gutters less often. Instead of having to clean out leaves and junk twice a year, you might be able to get away with cleaning them once every other year. Another advantage is that, with the solid gutter guard systems at least, they add beauty to your home. The curb appeal of your house will be higher. That can help with resale value.