|There are many different kinds of gutter protection systems available today. The different basic types of systems include gutter guards, gutter covers, gutter screens, or gutter filters. All of them are intended to let the water drain into the rain gutter while keeping possible debris (leaves, tree flowers, seeds, seed pods, twigs, etc.) out of the gutter.
Without any protection system, debris will collect in the gutter, partially or completely blocking the planned flow down the downspout. If the rain gutter becomes full of water, it will then flow over the edge, falling to the ground or running down the fascia board or the wall of the house. Various kinds of damage can result. To avoid these problems the homeowner needs to regularly clean all debris out of the rain gutters, or install some kind of gutter protection system.
Different strategies are used in different system designs. Some use some type of coarse screen or plate with small holes or slots. The water goes through the holes, the debris doesn’t. Often the debris remains on the surface, dries out later, and is blown off by the wind. Essentially, this is also the principle of the new filter device, which uses open cell foam instead of a screen. Other systems will create a flow pattern where the water goes one direction and the debris another.
If the particular device is completely successful, only water will enter the gutter and there will be no debris to accumulate there. As a result, the homeowner should never have to clean out the rain gutters again. If the system is less successful, there may be some debris that accumulates. Most of these systems greatly reduce the requirements for periodic maintenance, but do not entirely eliminate it.
The different names are not definitive. Covers and guards both may have holes in them, or not. It seems more a matter of choice by the manufacturer as to what someone thought sounded best.
So, if you decide to install such a system, how much will it cost? Here is a little information to get you started in the right direction. The two most common gutter types are K-style or half-round gutters. Different types of covers, screens, et cetera have different features. They may be made from aluminum, steel, copper, polypropylene, a special polypropylene foam, or PVC. Go to GutterSupply.com for descriptions of many different types and styles.
The least expensive material available at GutterSupply.com is a Diamond PVC Snap-In Cover. It comes in three-foot sections and costs $0.58 per foot. If the average house requires 120 feet of rain gutter, the material threshold price for the least expensive type of gutter cover job is around $70, not including any additional clips or hangers, if required. The next step up, cost-wise, in the cover group is more than twice as much, at $1.77 per foot in 4-foot sections. The base material cost for the average house has now jumped to around $215. The most expensive basic material in this group is for a cover made of powder coated steel at $3.75 per foot. This style of cover, in copper, goes for $7 per foot.
As a group, aluminum or steel gutter screens are the least expensive. Typically, they come in precut sections three or four feet long. They are available to fit either K-style or half-round gutters. Installation consists of laying the screen into the gutter or clipping the screen onto the gutter. Retail prices for the material run from $0.82 per foot to $1.36. Some kinds of screens are also available in copper. The cost for copper is considerably more, up to $5.04 per foot. If the average house requires 120 feet of rain gutter, the base material threshold price for the least expensive type of gutter screen is around $100 to $165. Of course, this does not include installation.
The group of hybrid gutter guards includes different styles and designs ranging from $0.89 per foot to $4.30 per foot. Materials include aluminum, copper, or polypropylene.
A gutter filter system is the most expensive of the non-copper systems. It consists of a specially shaped block of polyether-polyurethane foam as the filter material. This block completely fills the K-style or half-round gutter, providing a flat surface top. The foam blocks come in four foot lengths and are very simple to install. The price for this system runs $5.30 to $7.70 per foot depending on the type and size of your gutters. This puts the base material cost at $640 to $925 for our average size home.
Sock Woodruff is founder and partner of GutterSupply.com, the leading manufacturer and distributor of gutter supplies, gutter machines, gutter covers, and related tools and equipment.