The Most Ineffective Types of Gutter Guards

gutter guards kansas city

As a homeowner, you’re likely familiar with the importance of a properly functioning roof or correctly installed siding. Both components of the home’s exterior contribute heavily to your protection from the elements, but they’re not the only component worth paying attention to. One part of the home that’s often underestimated is the gutter system. The gutter system is responsible for facilitating the flow of water, debris, and other items down and away from the house.

While the gutter system performs this task admirably, the truth is that your gutters can become easily clogged, which requires a lot of cleaning and maintenance to keep them flowing and functioning at their best. Cleaning your gutters can be a time-consuming and even a dangerous task, which is why gutter guards were invented to reduce the upkeep necessary for keeping gutters free and clear of clogs without the work.

According to manufacturers of gutter guard systems, by installing a gutter guard you can expect dramatically reduced maintenance and lower instances of cleaning needed. However, not all gutter guard systems are the same. Gutter guards can be professionally installed or DIY, and come in a range of different materials that work differently and perform differently as well.

Truthfully, some gutter guard systems just aren’t worth the installation, while other systems are—and can save homeowners plenty of time, money, worry, and hassle. So, when it comes to having a gutter guard system installed, how can we ensure that the system we choose is the right one?

There are two keys to a successful gutter guard installation:

  1. Make sure the gutter guard is installed correctly by a licensed contractor
  2. Choose a surgical-grade steel mesh gutter guard system, and avoid the rest of the options. According to experts and Consumer Reports, this is the only type of system that actually works like it’s supposed to.

At Smart Exteriors, we’ve seen how effective steel mesh gutter guards are for homes in Kansas City and the surrounding areas—which is why we always encourage homeowners to have them installed over other options. In this guide, we’re going over the other systems that give gutter guards a bad name, and why you should avoid them for your home installation.

Gutter Guard Systems to Avoid

Much like anything else you purchase for the home, there are multiple options available for your consideration. This wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing—except that in the case of gutter guards, only one option offers the performance homeowners need to consider it a good investment. Here are the other options on the market:

Brush Gutter Guards

This is a gutter guard made up of bristles. Think giant pipe cleaners, and you’ll have an accurate idea in mind of what brush gutter guards are. These are designed to fit inside the gutters in an upright position. The purpose of this position is to keep leaves and debris at the top of the bristles while letting rainwater through.


  • They are easy to install as DIY or by professionals.
  • Inexpensive compared to other systems.


  • Won’t block all debris. Smaller pieces can still get through.
  • Easily clogged.
  • Cleaning requires the complete removal of the gutter guard system.

The Bottom Line

Brushes are only so effective to begin with, and are a hassle to manage and clean. You’re better off without a gutter guard than investing in this option.

Foam Gutter Guards

Like brush gutter guards, the foam option fits inside the gutters. The promise with this option is that debris won’t build up in your gutters with foam gutter guards.


  • Cheap and easy to install.


  • Seedlings and other plant life can grow inside the foam guards, which may cause gutter damage.
  • Clogs are prevented inside the gutters, but they cause clogs can form at the top of the foam gutter guards.
  • Some foam guards are potential fire hazards.
  • This option also requires complete removal to clean followed by a re-installation.

The Bottom Line

Sure, foam gutter guards are cheap and simple to install, but the sheer hassle and potential damage to your home make this solution one that’s best left alone.

Reverse Curve Gutter Guards

Also known as a surface tension gutter guard, this option is meant to move rainwater down. In addition, the reversed curve is designed for leaves and debris to drop to the ground instead of building up in the gutter system.


  • This option is professionally installed, which means a warranty may be offered.
  • Better than foam or brush gutter guards.


  • Roof shingles will be lifted, which voids the roof warranty.
  • Noticeable from the ground, which means potentially lowered curb appeal.
  • Possibly expensive since some companies require you to purchase new gutters so they fit.
  • Clogs still build up, especially at the opening.
  • Pest problems such as bees or wasps located at the openings.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, this option will get the job done in the short-term. However, the number of future problems waiting for you makes this a choice to avoid if at all possible.


As the name implies, this solution is made up of screens with openings that fit onto the top of the gutter system. These can be done as a DIY project or by a professional.


  • Simple to install
  • Affordable


  • The openings are large enough for most kinds of debris to get through
  • High winds can blow these gutter guards away
  • Clogging is a legitimate issue

The Bottom Line

If affordability is your main concern, then this might be the option for you. However, the protection offered is average at best, so if you can afford professional installation, there is a better option available.

The Top Choice for Advanced Gutter Guard Protection

This gutter guard option gets its own spotlight. Why is that? Quite simply, because it’s the only option that truly works like its supposed to. Both homeowners and contractors have searched for a true solution to easier gutter maintenance. Today, that solution looks to be realized with stainless steel mesh gutter guards. Before you get too excited and purchase this option, there are some things to know beforehand.

There are numerous micromesh gutter guard options available in different materials. Some are steel, aluminum, or other types of metal. Don’t settle for anything less than high-grade, surgical-quality, stainless steel mesh gutter guard systems. This level of quality is more expensive than other options, but the benefits outweigh the negatives.


  • Comes highly rated by Consumer Reports.
  • A permanent solution to clogged gutters.
  • Backed by warranty (usually, be sure to verify with your contractor).
  • Professionally installed.
  • Highly durable.
  • Easy to install.
  • Corrosion and rust-free.


  • Some variations are inferior to other options when it comes to quality.
  • More expensive than other options.
  • Requires professional installation.

The Bottom Line

This is the solution for homeowners who want a maintenance-free gutter guard system that actually does its job. As long as you stick to the stainless steel option we referenced and have it installed by professionals, you won’t have to worry about quality concerns. Keep in mind that while the upfront cost is higher, the long-term payoff will make this a worthy investment for years to come.

If you’re ready to check out our gutter guard options, Smart Exteriors is here for you. Give our team a call today to speak with one of our agents about our outstanding gutter guard installation services in Kansas City, or fill out our online form to schedule your free, in-home assessment.