Gutter Screens VS Gutter Guards: What’s the Difference? - Backyard Boss
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Gutter Screens VS Gutter Guards: What’s the Difference?

Are you tired of ladder climbing, rain exposure, a clogged gutter that gets your hands all sticky and dirty? Cleaning the gutter can be a thing of the past if you invest wisely in a pair of gutter guards. But, make no mistake, there is more than just one type of gutter protector out there.

Today we’re going to examine the differences between gutter screens vs. gutter guards, by analyzing their construction and materials, while also taking a look at the costs.

Gutter Screens VS Gutter Guards Comparisons

Screens ​​​Guards
Shur Flo Gutter Protection System
LeafFilter Gutter Guard
  • Made from metal or plastic.
  • Easy to install.
  • Doesn’t require roof repairs.
  • Different installation methods.
  • Easy to install.
  • Available in different materials.
  • Quite inexpensive.
  • Won’t void the roof warranty.

A Closer Look

When you purchase gutter protectors, there are two main things to keep in mind: can the options you’ve hovered over keep out the main types of debris found in your yard? And are you covered in case the system isn’t functioning properly/doesn’t turn out to be efficient?

There are a lot of things to consider before choosing screens vs guards, especially since these products are so different in terms of construction, how they are installed, how much they cost, and how they actively work to keep your gutters clean. Here is some information that might prove useful in your quest to finding efficient gutter protection.

Gutter Screens

Plastic guard over new dark grey plastic rain gutter on asphalt shingles roof at shallow depth of field.

Construction & Materials

A screen guard is normally made from either plastic or metal and is a more affordable option compared to the more complex systems out there. Just as the name suggests it, this type of gutter protector acts as a screen, a barrier if you will, standing between the actual gutters and whatever debris would normally find its way inside them and cause potential damage.

Depending on what material they are made of, both of these types of gutter screens can have their own advantages and disadvantages. For example, plastic gutter screens may not be that resistant in extreme weather conditions, while the metal gutter screen is exposed to rust and corrosion.


Screens are an extremely common form of gutter protection. They are most efficient near homes where leaves are the main problem. The main disadvantage with a screen is that the openings on the surface of the screen may be large enough to allow smaller types of debris to pass through, such as pine needles. If pine needles get stuck in the holes, you may have to take parts of the screen down and clean them.

Ease of Install

Handyman installing plastic gutter guards on a home.

Plastic screens are super easy to install, but the process does depend on the instruction given by the seller/manufacturer. They can be installed in different ways: some are slid under the roof shingles, while others are just dropped in place and secured.

Estimated Costs

Depending on the brand chosen, prices may vary from ten cents to two dollars per foot. The overall costs depend on the type of screen chosen, as well as the length of the entire gutter system surrounding your house.

Gutter Guards

Raptor Gutter Guard

Construction & Materials

Gutter guards have broader types of actual protective systems that go in and on the gutters. The most common types of guards are those made from foam and brush. Brush guards are known for their cylindrical shape and are very similar to wire cleaning brushes.

Foam gutter guards are just foam inserts that go inside the gutters, in order to block debris from entering. These foam inserts have a generous pore-filled surface, which makes it easier for water to penetrate their surface, and end up in the gutters. Foam gutter guards are normally made from polyurethane foam, but they can be treated will all sorts of substances, like those that make them UV resistant.


The efficiency of these two types of gutter guards is extremely questionable. Bottlebrush gutter guards are really good at filtering out leaves and other forms of large debris. However, they do require some maintenance, at least one per year.

The good news about brush inserts is that the mechanism isn’t prone to rusting due to its construction, and also allows water to pass freely through the spikes that trap the debris. The bad news is: really small debris particles can be a nuisance, and still end up in your gutters.

Foam gutter guards, on the other hand, allow water to penetrate the surface and reach the gutters, but what about the moist environment that favors the apparition of… so many nasty things. When you look at the big picture, foam gutter guards are efficient because they take up most of the space inside the gutters, so there really isn’t any room left for debris.

However, foam can retain moisture, and a humid environment is perfect for developing mold and bacteria. There is also the question of durability. Foam inserts won’t last longer than two years, so they are considered an unworthy investment by a lot of homeowners.

Ease of Install

LeafsOut Gutter Guard System

Both foam and brush gutters guards are super easy to install. They have been through of and construction in such a way so that anyone can install them without the need of any professional help. These systems are simply placed inside the gutters after they’ve been thoroughly cleaned.

Estimated Costs

As some of the least expensive types of guards, the price for such products can go as low as $20, but can also rise up to a few hundred bucks. It all depends on the quality of the product, as well as on the length of your gutter system.


Bottom Line

Having a protective system like this installed can no longer be considered a fancy home improvement features, but rather a necessity that keeps both the owners and the house protected. To determine which type of guards or screens are the most efficient ones in your particular situation, you need to know which types of debris are the most common threat for your gutters, and then plan your purchase accordingly.