This is one of the most often asked, and most controversial questions in our industry. Again, I’ll state “there is no best leaf screen, only the best one for your job, budget, and appeal.” There are three ways to keep leaves, debris, and other objects from clogging gutters. These are leave strainers, leaf screens, and solid gutter covers.
Leaf Strainers are screens or devices put over the hole to the downspout. If you can keep the hole from being blocked, the gutter will not overflow. However, this is not a substitute for frequent gutter cleaning.
Leaf Screens do just that, they screen out leaves. They are made of heavy wire mesh and when placed on the gutter, will let water in and block the leaves. However, they will let in dirt and smaller debris. Therefore, gutters still have to be cleaned, but not as often as gutters without leaf screens.
Gutter Covers are solid metal covers that fit over the gutter in such a way that they actually separate the debris from the roof water. They work on the principal of surface adhesion. That’s to say that water will stay attached to metal even when the surface changes angles. That’s where the debris separates from the roof water. It’s fascinating to watch, and it’s very effective in preventing debris from entering the gutter. Unfortunately, it cannot be used on all roofs here in Southern California.
In deciding which one is best, you need to consider several things. How bad is the problem, how much will it cost, what will it look like, how often will I need to clean the gutters, and how effective is it for my situation? This is where the expertise of a local, reputable, and experience rain gutter contractor is invaluable. Deal with a contractor who offers a variety of products. Do your homework and ask a lot of questions.