Gutter Helmet vs. Leaf Guard: Which is Better?

By Gutter Expert Henry Gerbin
Published On

Are you wondering if gutter helmets or leaf guards are better for your home?

Well, you definitely came to the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • All about leaf guards and gutter helmets
  • Their pros and cons
  • How they compare
  • Which one is best for you

And much more!

How Do You Fix A Hole In A Gutter(1)

So, if you’re looking for answers on whether gutter helmets or leaf guards are better, keep reading our cost guide below to learn everything you need to know.

What are Gutter Helmets and Leaf Guards? 

Gutter helmets and leaf guards are gutter covers that protect your home from falling leaves. They both install over the top of your gutters to prevent clogs and reduce how often you need to clean them.

Most homeowners install gutter helmets or leaf guards to prevent their gutters from getting clogged.

While gutter helmets are installed on the gutter itself, leaf guards are usually placed inside your gutter or at its top. 

Here are the key differences between gutter helmets and leaf guards.

Gutter Helmets 

Gutter helmets are gutter covers that protect your home from falling leaves. They are installed directly above the gutter to keep it free of debris, which is necessary for proper drainage.

Gutter helmets can be made of metal or plastic and typically have a more modern design than leaf guards. They are typically thick and have a gutter-shaped design, so they fit seamlessly on the gutters.

There are a few different types of gutter helmets or gutter guard systems:

  • Surface tension gutter guards – these aluminum gutter guards are a reverse curve shape and are the most common type. Debris can sometimes get stuck in the reverse curve gutter guard, but otherwise, they are effective.
  • Screen and mesh guards – These are the most common type of gutter guards. They have a plastic or metal inner surface with small to large holes (like your window screen). Smaller sized mesh holes are needed to prevent pine needles from entering. Leaffilter is a popular brand of this style.
  • Foam gutter guards – foam gutter guards are basically pool noodles that insert inside your gutters. They are good at blocking leaf buildup but may aid the growth of mold, bacteria, and algae.
  • Bottlebrush gutter guards – these are cylindrical and look like large pipe cleaners (also known as brush guards), and are efficient at keeping out debris.

All gutter guards work by blocking debris from entering the gutter in some fashion. 


  • Gutter helmets are an effective way to prevent leaves and other debris from building up inside your gutters
  • They reduce how often you have to clean out your gutters 
  • They’re easy to install and block most small and large debris, without blocking rainwater 


  • They’re xpensive and require professional installation to function properly
  • Some types still get clogged with smaller debris (pine needles, etc.)
  • Mesh type gutter guards may overflow in heavy rainfall

Leaf Guard

Leaf guards work differently from gutter helmets because they cover the top of the gutters instead of sitting inside them.

They are essentially a curved “hood” that keeps debris out and directs rainwater straight from your shingles into the gutter through the scientific principle of liquid adhesion.

They are one continuous piece of aluminum that is custom fit to your gutters. This prevents issues experienced with numerous sectional inserts (like clogging).

Leaf guards are gutter covers designed primarily for use in homes with deciduous trees nearby because they prevent all types of small objects – including:

  • Tree branches
  • Leaves
  • Acorns
  • Pine needles
  • Berries
  • And more

Leaf guards stop these things from clogging up your gutters during the fall season when they start falling off the trees surrounding your home at a rapid pace. 

Plus, leaf guards are very thick and durable so you don’t have to worry about them breaking.


  • They’re durable and can withstand impacts from falling branches
  • They’re wide and block the majority of debris
  • They reduce the need for gutter cleaning
  • Leaf Guards can also prevent icicles and ice dams from forming


  • They’re one of the more expensive gutter solutions compared to gutter helmets
  • If they break (which is rare) you need to replace the entire section because they’re custom-made

Additionally, leaf guards almost always require professional installation, which only adds to their cost.

Gutter Helmet vs. Leaf Guard

So, now that we know what gutter helmets and leaf guards are and how they differ, let’s find out how they compare.

Here’s how their important aspects compare.


Gutter helmets are made by a variety of manufacturers. Some have lifetime warranties, while others have one-year or multiple-year warranties (most have at least 20-year warranties if they’re not lifetime). It really depends on the type and brand.

On the other hand, leaf guards are made by a single company and have a lifetime warranty. So, until you sell your house or move, your leaf guards are guaranteed for life.


One of the most desirable aspects of leaf guards and gutter helmets is that they significantly reduce how often you have to clean your gutters. After installing gutter helmets or leaf guards, you will only need to spend about 15 to 30 minutes once or twice a year cleaning your gutters.

Why do you still need to clean them with these protectors? Unfortunately, no matter what type of gutter cover you use, they will still let some dirt, grime, and other particulates into your gutters.

Dirt alone is enough to clog, weigh down, and damage your gutters. But, since it’s smaller, it takes longer to accumulate than leaves, twigs, acorns, etc.

Additionally, if you don’t clean your gutters, mold, algae, mildew, and other toxins can start flourishing in your gutters and spread to other areas in your home while slowing water flow.


How efficient gutter protection systems are is essential. Most of them do a fantastic job at filtering out most debris, leaving only the tiniest particles.

Gutter covers with mesh screens are usually the most efficient but may not perform well in heavy downpours. This is because rainwater can pass through the mesh fast enough to overflow into your yard.

Since dirt still passes through even mesh filters, a thick layer of mud can form in the base of your gutters if you give it enough time.

On the other hand, Leaf Guards push debris away and rainwater into the gutters due to their innovative, curved hood design.


A significant difference between Leaf Guards and gutter helmets is cost. Leaf Guards and installation cost between $2,000 to $7,500 on average. 

In comparison, gutter helmets and gutter guards cost between $250 to $1,500 on average, including installation.

But there’s no such thing as a “free gutter,” meaning you’ll either have to pay for extra maintenance or leaf filter guard gutters. Also, keep in mind that your cost will vary per linear foot of gutter on your home. 

It is worth noting that Leaf Guards are a more permanent solution than a simple screen that snaps on top of your gutters.


Gutter helmets are easy to install if you’re looking for an alternative solution compared to traditional gutter cleaning methods. However, there is usually some kind of installation process that must be done by professionals or yourself before using them. 

They also require regular upkeep and maintenance to function correctly over time.


Gutter helmets are made from various materials, including vinyl, aluminum, copper, and stainless steel. They have polyester mesh or plastic grating installed on top of the gutters to prevent debris from collecting inside your gutter system.

Leaf Guards are typically built from the same material as gutter systems. This means they will be composed primarily of either aluminum, galvanized steel, or copper, which all have their own unique properties for long-term durability against elements such as rusting or corrosion.

Which One is Best For You? 

Choosing between Leaf Guards and gutter helmets can be a difficult choice. What it really comes down to is your budget, the amount of maintenance you want in the future, and the style you like the most.

Both Leaf Guards and gutter helmets are high-selling gutter accessories.

In our opinion, having any gutter protection is better than none at all.

Leaf Guards protect your gutter from leaf incursion during the fall season when leaves typically clog gutters with ease. 

They also have excellent accessories against other types of debris such as pine needles, twigs, or acorns, which can easily be blown into your gutters at any time throughout the year.

On the other hand, gutter helmets also offer complete protection against all forms of guttering blockages by covering 100% of a roof’s guttering system both above and below roof level. They stop almost anything from entering through those points.

In our opinion, Leaf Guards appear to let fewer particles into the gutter and require the least amount of maintenance. However, they are also the most expensive.

Why Should You Use Gutter Helmets or Leaf Guards?

Gutter helmets and leaf guards protect your gutters and reduce maintenance. Yes, they cost money upfront, but they save you more in the future. 

They do this by reducing maintenance intervals and extending the lifespan of your gutters and downspouts.

Gutter helmets and leaf guards are both excellent protectors for your gutters and your home.

What are the Risks of Clogged Gutters?

Gutters run along the edge of your roof and take rainwater from your roof to downspouts, which drain away from your home. Clogged gutters can cause water to overflow, which will leak onto the perimeter of your home.

This can damage your foundation, water damage can pop up inside wall insulation and interior drywall of your basement, and the runoff could flood your yard and destroy the landscaping you worked so hard on.

When gutters are clean, you avoid having this kind of problem. Gutter helmets and leaf guards prevent clogs and the ensuing issues from popping up.

The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do To Maintain Your Gutters?

The best thing you can do to maintain your gutters is keep them clean and free of clogs. This prevents clogs and all of the expensive damage that overflowing gutters can do to your landscaping and home. Clean gutters are healthy gutters. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

Whether you have gutter helmets, leaf guards, or none at all, you should clean your gutters at least once a year. This will ensure you have no clogs or an abundance of algae and mold growing in your gutters.

If you don’t have any gutter protectors and many trees surrounding your house, you may have to clean your gutters more frequently than once a year– twice a year or once a quarter are common intervals.

How Our Gutter Pros Can Help!

Our gutter experts can help you decide between gutter helmets and leaf guards, then install them for you. We can also help with anything else you need to maintain a healthy rain gutter system.

We provide free quotes and any gutter service you need – repairs, upgrades, gutter cleaning, and more.

So, give us a call or fill out our form for help today!

Meet Your Gutter Expert

Henry Gerbin


Whether your gutters are leaking, broken, or you're just someone considering the purchase of your first set of gutters Henry is here to help. He regularly contributes his thoughts and knowledge with the RegionalGutterRepair readers publishing guides and studies on the latest in gutters.

More Gutter Guides

Request A Free Gutter Service Quote

By submitting your info on this form, you are agreeing to be contacted regarding your service request by means of telephone, email, or text including using pre-recorded or auto dialed phone calls or text messages to the phone number you have provided, including your wireless number, if provided. Consent to contact doesn’t require you to purchase service. Please note you may be matched to one of our trusted partners such as Craft Jack or Angi. By using this service, you agree to our Terms Of Service as well as to Angi Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.


Fast Free Quotes
All Gutter Types Covered
Punctual Service
Best Pricing
Simple Payment Plans
Clean & Courteous Crew