How to Install Gutter Guards

Text: Installing Gutter Guards | Background Image: Man installing gutter guard

Most homeowners dread climbing a ladder and cleaning out gutters, but it’s one of those home maintenance chores you just can’t ignore. That’s why gutter guard systems are becoming popular fixtures on homes today. Here, we’ll discuss the best gutter guard for a DIY job and the steps for homeowners to follow when installing gutter guards.

In this article:

What is a Gutter Guard?

Gutter Guard
Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan / Flicker / CC BY-SA 2.0

A gutter guard, also known as a leaf guard, is designed to keep large debris out of your gutters and allow rainwater to flow unimpeded to a downspout and then harmlessly to the ground. Its purpose is to make your gutters more manageable. It is not a foolproof system; small debris such as pine needles, twigs, and dirt can and will cause buildup over time in your gutters. If not properly maintained, this can lead to a clog.

Poorly maintained gutter guards can ruin the fascia directly behind the gutters, the foundation of your house, the landscaping that surrounds your house, and even can cause flooding.

Gutter guard systems can be bought on Amazon, of course, and locally at a nearby Costco or Home Depot.

Advantages of gutter guards include:

  • Saving you time and money by helping to maintain the gutters
  • Protecting your roof from water damage and leaks
  • Protecting your gutters from rust and corrosion
  • Detering against animal droppings that could lead to disease exposure

Best DIY Gutter Guard

Some gutter guards are pretty complex systems that require some skill and experience to install properly. These installations should be attempted only by a DIYer with some construction background or a professional installer.

For the purposes of this article, then, we’re going to focus on gutter guards that can be handled by the average homeowner; Snap-on gutter guards. Although typically not as durable as screw-fastened options, snap-on gutter guards are your best bet for a seamless DIY guard installation.

The quality of a good snap-on gutter guard comes down to the material and design of the guard. The majority of them are made of stainless steel, aluminum, or vinyl. Stainless steel types tend to be the most durable and long-lasting.

Snap-on gutter guard costs are comparable to most other gutter guard systems. The overall cost depends upon the material you buy and the amount of gutter guard needed to do the job.

Pro tip: Buy a small section of gutter guard to test out before investing in all your material. Install the test piece, and make sure that it is the quality that you need.

How to Install Gutter Guards

Step 1: Read Instructions

The important warranty that comes with your gutter guards can be quickly voided due to an incorrect installation, so sticking to the product’s specific steps is imperative in order to avoid malfunction.

Steps 2: Lift Shingles and Slide the Gutter Guard Into Place

Insert a putty knife between the shingles and underlayment. Lift the shingles just enough to insert the edge of the guard. Be careful not to damage the shingles or the plywood underneath. If a shingle happens to crack, slide the guard section into place and use the putty knife to apply roofing cement over it. Never leave a cracked shingle unsealed. Rainwater will infiltrate the crack and could damage your roof and seep into your attic.

Aligning the gutter guard section with your roofline, continue to lift the shingles and slide your guard into place until you’ve reached the end of the first section. 

Step 3: Clip the Guard Section Onto the Gutter’s Lip

Align the outer edge of the gutter guard section with the outer rim of your gutter. Clip the guard over the gutter’s lip and snap it into place. This step may vary by product.

Step 4: Overlap Your Sections

Repeat steps two and three to install the remaining gutter guards while overlapping the sections by a half inch, unless directed otherwise. Most manufacturers recommend overlapping your guard sections by a half inch to one and a half inches. Make sure to check your installation guide for specific instructions. 

Step 5: Cut Miter Joints to Connect Corner Gutters

Measure a 45 degree angle into the end of a guard section. Ensure that the side which slides into the roofline faces inward and the one that connects to the gutter faces outward.

Mark the angle and trim the end of the gutter guard section with tin snips or a utility knife. Repeat this step to cut the corresponding angle into another guard section. 

Step 6: Trim the End of the Guard Section

You’ll most likely end up with a section of guard which needs to be trimmed in order to fit snugly. Use a good pair of tin snips or a utility knife to trim the end of the last guard section.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I install gutter guards myself?

Gutter guards can be installed by homeowners with general handyman skills. Some guards are more difficult to install than others, so do you research and make sure to read all gutter guard reviews. 

Do I still have to clean gutters that have gutter guards?

Gutter guard or no gutter guard, it is a good practice to clean your gutters once or twice a year. The purpose of a gutter guard isn’t to keep every single piece of debris from getting into the gutter, but rather to increase the water flow rate. 

Therefore, gutters and their gutter guards will need to be maintained properly. The good news is, cleaning is less time consuming when your gutter guards are working the way they’re supposed to. 

Installing gutter guards can be tricky work, and sometimes it’s better to leave it to a professional so you have confidence that the work is done right the first time. Check out our stable of gutter installation professionals here for expert help.

Main Photo: IndyEdge / Shutter Stock

Madeline Hoppe

Madeline Hoppe

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, Madeline Hoppe is a customer service expert with a deep respect for the written word. In her down time, she enjoys low-key nights watching movies with her family or heading to one of Tampa Bay's local beaches on a summery day.