Do you remember using pipe cleaners for craft projects in elementary? Brush gutter guards are similar. This option consists of many cylinder-shaped brushes with bristles that stand upright in your gutters. The tops of the bristles create a ledge that catches large debris, allowing the water to pass through.
While this is an affordable and relatively easy-to-DIY option, brush gutter guards are not a smart solution in the long run. The spaces between the bristles can catch smaller debris, which adds up over time to cause clogs. When weighed down, the large debris will clog up your gutters, requiring annual maintenance.
To thoroughly clean gutter brushes, you’ll often have to manually remove, clean and then reinstall brush gutter guards — a cumbersome and time-intensive process. Skip a cleaning? Debris can break down and, in a moist environment, become a breeding ground for mold.
Gutter Filtering Foam
Foam gutter guards are another fairly inexpensive option that is easy to install on your own. A piece of foam is cut to the specifications of your gutter and placed tightly in your gutter. The snug fit allows larger debris to stay on the top of the foam, not in your gutters.
Foam gutter covers are fairly effective for a few seasons, but eventually, debris will pile up and begin to decompose within the foam, putting your home at risk for a complete obstruction and, potentially, gutter mold. Like brush gutter guards, foam gutter covers also require annual removal, cleaning, and reinstallation. It all adds up, and you’ll do more work than if you had no gutter protection at all.
Plastic or Wire Mesh Screens
Mesh screens, depending on your material choice and price point, may be installed on your own or may require a professional gutter guard installation. The screens fit over the top of your gutters; holes in the screen allow rainwater and other precipitation to fall in and through while catching the largest debris on top of the screen.
Plastic screens can often be lightweight. So in heavy winds and tough storms, these can blow off of your gutters completely. And their light weight means they’re not durable; they’ll collapse under even a small amount of debris.
Aluminum screens offer slightly more protection due to their sturdier construction. But aside from a longer life, you face all the same risks as plastic screens. Regardless of the size of the openings, mesh screens do prevent 100% of debris. The small items — think seeds and pine needles! — can sneak through those small holes.
Like all options besides K-Guard, mesh screens require you to lug that latter out for seasonal cleaning or to hire a pro for pricey maintenance. If you delay cleaning, this organic matter can begin to decompose, leading to sludge and even gutter mold!
Furthermore, mesh screens can result in an unsightly appearance and take away from your curb appeal. You’ve likely seen maple tree “helicopter” leaves sticking out of mesh gutter hoods, or even tiny trees and plants that have sprouted from seeds! Leave the plants to actual planters.