What are gutter guards - and do they really work?

They're sold as a problem solver, so we've spoken to the experts to see if they're all they're cracked up to be

Metal mesh gutter guard
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We've been hearing a lot of chat about gutter guards recently - but what actually are they? And do you really need to use them? After all, surely gutters do the job they're meant to do...

Well, it seems like these inexpensive additions to your roof may save you a lot of time, stress and money. And allow you to continue avoiding from cleaning your gutters so often (or is that just us?!)

'Gutter guards do a good job of keeping leaves, moss and twigs out of your gutters, so they don’t get blocked up,' explains property and construction expert Thomas Goodman from Myjobquote.co.uk.

'This reduces the need for frequent clearing, saving you time and money. It’s important to keep gutters clear, so rainwater doesn’t flow into the fabric of your building causing material damage and damp. So, most homes benefit from gutter guards.'

Thomas Goodman
Thomas Goodman

Thomas has worked as a property and construction expert for MyJobQuote for six years and has worked in the construction industry for over twenty years. 

He continues to work on building projects, while also providing expert construction and property advice to industry professionals and DIY enthusiasts.

Why should you use a gutter guard?

Metal mesh gutter guard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Let's take things right back to basics - why should we be using gutter guards and what are they doing that your gutters can't do by themselves?

'Gutters are an essential part of the roofing system and help to prevent problems such as damp, condensation and water ingress by channelling away rainwater from roofs, windows and doors – meaning it’s imperative they’re well looked after,' notes Turrou Landesmann, trading manager at Drainage Superstore.

Hedgehog style gutter guard on black plastic guttering

(Image credit: Getty Images)

'While a good guttering system can last between 20 and 50 years, it needs to be well maintained within that time which includes regular clearing and ensuring there aren’t any leaks,' continues Turrou. 

'If you’re seeing a constant build-up of debris or experiencing problems with insect infestation, it could be worth investing in gutter guards.'

'Gutter guards are placed either above or into the gutter to prevent leaves and big items of debris from entering the guttering system; they’re a huge help if you’re surrounded by trees and constantly having to clear the gutters or if you've experienced extra debris from storms.'

How do I choose a gutter guard?

Metal mesh gutter guard

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are few main types of gutter guards to choose from including brush, grille and grids.

'The brush or hedgehog type of gutter guard are easiest to fit,' explains Thomas from MyJobQuote. 'They simply sit in the gutter, so you can install them without fixings. As they’re bendy, they have no trouble fitting around corners.'

'The grille types are a little more complex to fit as they’re trickier to cut to size and need fixings to secure them to your gutters. But as they sit on top of your gutter, they maximise the capacity of your gutters to deal with heavy rainfall.'

'If your guttering isn’t perfectly straight, then you’ll find mesh grilles are more flexible than the solid grid type. You may prefer rounded rather than flat grilles, as they don’t collect as much debris on top.'

How do you maintain gutter guards?

Red brick terraced house with whit windows, doors and guttering

(Image credit: Future PLC/Oliver Gordon)

'It’s still important to regularly inspect and clean your gutter, even with a gutter guard, for optimal protection,' notes Turrou from Drainage Superstore. 'Depending on the surrounding environment, you may still have to remove leaves and twigs by hand once or twice a year but should overall see the benefits.'

'However, no guards stop smaller debris such as dirt and seeds from entering your gutter,' explains Thomas from MyJobQuote. 'So you’ll still need to clean them from time-to-time, whatever style you fit.'

'Don’t forget, to add downpipe guards too. These are especially important where there’s tree cover or nesting birds as sticks and other large debris are more likely to drop inside and block your pipes.'

Is there a downside to gutter guards?

Back of brick terraced house with modern white extension

(Image credit: Future PLC/French+Tye)

'They’re relatively inexpensive and work with most domestic gutter systems, so if you’re finding that you’re having to clear the gutters more often than a couple of times a year, it could be worth adding some guards,' says Turrou from Drainage Superstore.

'While they play an important role in the gutter in reducing the build-up of detritus, they can’t be seen from the ground so the aesthetic of your property isn’t compromised.'

While those are some extra positive notes on gutter guards, there must be a downside? Well, not really. 'But, if you live in a bungalow with easy-to-reach gutters and you have plenty of time for maintenance, guards may not be necessary,' muses Thomas from MyJobQuote.

Thea Babington-Stitt
Managing Editor

Thea Babington-Stitt is the Managing Editor for Ideal Home. Thea has been working across some of the UK’s leading interiors titles for around 10 years.

She started working on these magazines and websites after graduating from City University London with a Masters in Magazine Journalism. Before moving to Ideal Home, Thea was News and Features Editor at Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc and Country Homes & Interiors.