best gutter guards

Ever driven down the road and seen your check engine light come on?

After the initial shock of wondering what the heck could possibly be wrong, the next logical step for most is to get the problem addressed. And sometimes, the problem isn’t major – perhaps a bad sensor, a small mechanical error or something similar. 

On the other hand, there is always the real possibility that your car has been telling you for sometime it is having some issues and the light was the straw that broke the camel’s back as the saying goes. 

Now, we get it… you’re wondering what this has to do with your home’s gutters. Similar to that check engine light, oftentimes warning signs are there when it comes to our gutters. But just like the car trouble, we don’t always see gutter problems (for a plethora of reasons, one being height). 

That is why today, we will teach you how to never have to worry about your gutters again! Here is what we mean:

  • You will learn what the best gutter guards do
  • Today, we will teach you the type of gutter guards
  • Lastly, we will share with you the very best, ranked gutter guards! 

The Best Gutter Guards For Your Home

What do gutter guards do?

Every fall, leaves fall, and some eaves will inevitably find their way into your home’s gutters every year. 

In addition to leaves in the fall, birds love nesting in gutters each spring and regardless of the season, sticks and pine needles  also clog downspouts and gutters. The correct gutter guard will protect your gutters from these issues – birds, leaves, sticks, pine needles – and prevent your gutters from clogging. 

As we will explain later in this article, some gutter guards can do all three, but many can do one, perhaps two of the three. So the trick to finding the best gutter guards is finding a guard that can protect your home’s gutters from everything! 

Lastly, options as homeowners is to either clean gutters 1-2x per year on your own, pay someone to clean your gutters (approximately $300 per year on average), or install gutter guards and let them do the work for you. 

Now, if you’re thinking your gutters are not important to protect, obviously we are bias, but think again. An intact gutter system is vital to making sure rainwater and melting snow are displaced appropriately throughout the seasons. Protecting your gutters is a must to prevent bigger problems like foundational issues and leaks. Those brittle, dry leaves can become heavy monsters when they’re soaking in your gutters and downspouts for a few days! 

All this to say, if you’re in the market for gutter guards, what are the best gutter guards?

The best gutter guards must do the following:

Rightfully so, some homeowners are turned off by gutter guards. They have had poor experiences with what we call low-quality gutter screens or vinyl gutter guards that simply don’t do anything but cause more issues. 

While gutter screens, gutter mesh, and vinyl gutter guards are certainly the cheapest option, they do not last long, they need to be maintained, and they break easily. Simply put, you would be better off just cleaning your gutters instead of putting a cheap, low quality gutter screen on your gutters. 

So if that is the case, what should be the best gutter guard for you? 

  1. Look for a gutter guard that is self cleaning. This means you don’t have to clean the guards, which if you have to clean the gutter guards, why get them?
  2. Ideally, you want the entire gutter protected. Some gutter guards will protect your gutters from leaves, but not birds. And bird nests are one of the leading causes of gutter issues!
  3. What kind of warranty do they offer and can you adjust them? This last statement might seem silly, but some gutter guard companies have strict policies about their warranties. If you were to adjust a guard or get a new roof, you would have to call them to do it or it can void your warranty. Instead of you owning your gutters, these companies make money off service calls, and really they own your gutters! 

All of this to say, we now know why you need gutter guards, what they do and what kind you need – so where do you start?

Common Types of Gutter Guards

Gutter guards can come in several forms including screen guards, surface tension gutter guards, and fine mesh gutter guards.

While the materials and design of each can vary, of the three, surface tension guards are your best bet. As you will later see when we rank the best gutter guards, our top pick is a surface tension guard. 

Surface tension gutter guards are typically more expensive, but they do the best job. We will not rank any gutter screens or gutter mesh simply because they’re not real guards.

They are screens that are simply placed on top of gutters that usually break and sag, thus not doing their job (see below in photos).

Gutter screens we removed from a gutter installation in Alexandria, VA 2020:

What was underneath these “Gutter Guards” from the same job above:

That being said we will quickly explain each:

Screen Gutter Guards:

Screen gutter guards are the most common gutter guards you will find because they are easy to install. Pros for screen gutter guards include easy installation, inexpensive, work with all types of roofs and keep leaves out. 

Cons: Easily damaged by sunlight and branches, can be seen protruding from gutters, REQUIRE maintenance/cleaning, difficult to clean, not durable. 

Surface Tension Gutter Guards:

Surface tension gutter guards are the most durable on the list, but typically the most expensive. They are designed to withstand branches, snow, ice, and windstorms while keeping the bigger debris out. The positive with surface tension gutter guards is they last long and require zero maintenance when installed correctly. 

Cons: Surface tension gutter guards are the most expensive on the list and have to be installed by contractors (sorry Home Depot DIY people). Sometimes, the difficult installation includes adjusting gutters, thus causing more work and they are easily underperforming during heavy rains. Homeowners report “Water flying off” their house during heavy rainstorms. This also depends on the specific surface tension guard! 

Fine Mesh Gutter Guards

Similar to the screen gutter guards above, fine mesh gutter guards do not let anything inside the gutter system. Pros include easy to install, can withstand weather, customizable for roof types, simple to clean when compared to screens. 

Cons: Still need cleaning and maintenance, limited availability and selection, and leaves can easily accumulate on top. They are usually just as expensive as surface tension guards, but they don’t work as well. 

Ranking the Three Best Gutter Guards

3. Gutter Helmet

Gutter Helmet is a surface tension gutter guard that comes in at number three for a few reasons.

Harry Helmet® | The Best Gutter Helmet, Gutter & Roofing Company

For starters, Gutter Helmet does a nice job of making sure leaves don’t enter your gutters, but they have quite a few cons:

Cons of Gutter Helmet:

  • Birds can still enter and nest
  • Rain water doesn’t always get into gutters
  • Complaints of rain flying off roof during storm
  • Over $20 per linear foot!
  • Have to have them fix, adjust, and take off if you want to get work done to your house!

2. LeafGuard

LeafGuard is a popular selection by many homeowners because overall, it does do a good job of keeping leaves out and protecting gutters. The design is made so leaves don’t enter the narrow entrance, however, water is supposed to flow right into your gutters.

However, the issue with LeafGuard is that when it rains hard, they don’t do so well!

LeafGuard Gutters | Seamless Rain Gutter Protection

The biggest issue with reverse curve gutter guards is that during heavy rains, multiple homeowners report water flying off their roof. Put another way, they don’t handle rain well, the most common complaint.

The small channel reverse curve surface tension gutter guards provide for the water through simply can’t manage all the heavy rain. Not to mention, they too are more expensive than #1 on the list!

So if the gutter guard can’t manage the heavy rain that accompanies spring and summer storms, what is the point? 

Finally, we have your #1 gutter guard solution:

1. Raindrop!

Products by RainDrop Gutter Guard - RainDrop Gutter Guard Systems

And here is your number one gutter guard for leaf protectionRaindrop Gutter Guards!

Raindrop checks the box for every single one. Unlike screen guards that are cheap but need cleaning, or surface tension guards that don’t require cleaning but don’t always perform, Raindrop gutter guards are known for their superior quality and performance. 

Raindrop® is made from its own unique blend of polypropylene.

This special blend of polypropylene and UV stabilizers can and will withstand the harshest storms, hottest climates and coldest seasons imaginable. This means it’s perfect for any region and location. Not to mention the durability the polypropylene provides! 

Watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB6TkjdhhgE&feature=emb_logo

Raindrop Design:

Raindrop gutter guards are designed to cover the entire gutter and prevent leaves, sticks, and birds from ever entering. Small debris such as some pine needles and other organic particles that enter are easily washed out by rainwater. 

This is why we offer a lifetime no-clog warranty! 

The gutter guards are installed under the roof shingles and attached to the front of the gutter creating a solid surface that can withstand heavy storms. Raindrop’s design is simple:

  1. Keep the leaves out
  2. Let the rain in
  3. Last forever
  4. Zero maintenance 

Fit & Flexible:

Raindrop® is the most versatile gutter guard available, working with every style of roof and fitting the most common 5” and 6” gutters. They can even be modified to fit gutters ranging from 4” to 10”. 

The “Flex-Flange” makes Raindrop® highly adaptable to work for every situation, thus installation is easy and simple. While we still recommend a pro installer to install gutter guards, Raindrop fits under the shingle and attaches to the front of the “K-style” gutters. 

Good for Ice & Branches:

Ice and snow sitting on gutter guards like the flat-mount mesh guards can actually weigh down gutters. Due to their black color, Raindrop® Gutter Guards heat up from the sun during the cold months, naturally melting snow and ice to keep water flowing into the gutters year-round.

As the video showed earlier, Raindrop gutter guards can also withstand branches that would damage most guards! 

Raindrop Gutter Guard Price: 

In addition to looking the best, on average the price for the product you get with Raindrop is unbeatable. We might seem bias, but we seriously love the performance and price range Raindrop offers. 

While cheap gutter guards don’t perform well and expensive gutter guards still require cleaning, Raindrop is right in the middle when it comes to price. 

On average, a single-family home is looking at gutter guards can expect to spend somewhere in between $1,000-$1,5000 on gutter guards for their home. Or look at it this way – 3-4 years worth of paying someone to clean your gutters

The Verdict:

It is clear, while we might seem bias, the best bet for gutter guards is Raindrop. To recap, here is why:

  1. Best price
  2. Best warranty
  3. Best product
  4. Best design
  5. Least amount of hassle

That is all you need to know! Oh and before we part, feel free to use our sister companies gutter calculator here to figure out how much gutter guards would cost!

roofing shingles

Looking for information on roofing shingles?

When it comes to your home’s roof, there is a very high likelihood that your roof has shingles. 

Asphalt shingles to be specific. 

And while there is a chance your roof has metal components, such as dormers or a porch area with metal, the roofing shingles you see on your home are almost always asphalt shingles (or sometimes cedar shake). 

Regardless, chances are you were searching for roofing shingles today to learn about the best ones? Or perhaps you were looking for the average cost of roofing shingles. Either way, here at Top Dog Home Pro, we got you covered, literally and figuratively! 

Today we will explore the following when it pertains to your roof’s shingles:

  1. What are asphalt shingles?
  2. What type and quality of roofing shingles are there?
  3. How much do roofing shingles typically cost?
  4. Roofing Repair vs Replacement

First, what are asphalt shingles?

Asphalt shingles happen to be the most commonly used form of roofing material in the states, more common than sheet metal or wood shingles. 

While the main component of asphalt shingles is of course asphalt, according to Guardian Roofs, they consist of either a fiberglass or felt paper base coated with a waterproof later of asphalt and topped with ceramic granules.

This creates a durable, waterproof, and lightweight shingle that can stand most elements mother nature has to offer such as wind, ice, snow, rain, and hail. Of course, like anything these days, there are different types of asphalt shingles. 

Types of Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles have evolved immensely over the past 20 years. Chances are if you have a roof that is from the ’90s or even still hanging on from the ’80s, the asphalt shingles you had then are nothing compared to what is offered today!

The two types of asphalt shingles are: 

  1. Three Tab Shingles
  2. Architectural Shingles

As you can see in the photo below, on the left the three-tab shingle is designed to look like three individual shingles, however, it is all one piece. These roofing shingles are flat, light-weight and the most economical when priced. 

On the right, the architectural shingles are thicker because of an extra layer of asphalt, but they are also sturdier and give a more unique/modern look. Architectural are a bit more expensive as we will soon cover, however, they last longer and have better warranty options because they are higher in quality. 

roofing shingles

That is not to say that if you elect to use three-tab roofing shingles you won’t have a healthy new roof, it’s just that more and more homeowners are looking at the long-term rewards of architectural shingles when they replace their roofs! 

Of course, costs matter but so does quality! 

How to know when the roofing shingles need to be replaced:

There are obvious signs that can indicate whether or not you need to replace your roof’s shingles. Let’s start with the super obvious signs!

  1. You have missing shingles, and it is obvious based on exposed underlayment or even exposed plywood. Urgency, ASAP!
  2. You notice that your shingles are curled or perhaps giving a “Buckled” look
  3. Your shingles are over 15 years old
  4. You notice lots of asphalt granules in your gutter downspout collectors

While these are some of the more obvious signs that you might need your roofing singles replaced, there other less common ones you might not be able to see. Perhaps your ridge vent is missing some shingles or your plywood is warped in some areas. 

In that case, if you don’t want to get on your roof (which we recommend NEVER getting on your roof) you can always reach out to have us take a look!

How much do new roofing shingles cost?

The cost for a new roof, roof repair, or new roofing shingles can vary. In this article here, we walk you through step by step how to gauge the cost of roofing shingles and a new roof. 

That being said, below you will find a quick view of how much roofing shingles cost per square, which is 100 square feet of shingles! For an accurate price, you can “Build” your roof here. 

roofing shingle costs

The price for roofing shingles varies depending on the quality of the shingle and the amount required for your home. 

For example, a standard 3-tab shingle installed by Top Dog Home Pro is $380 a square, whereas our architectural pro series roofing shingles by Certainteed run $425 per square installed. 

In the table below you will find rough estimates for replacing the shingles on a roof based on the approximate size of the home: 

3 TabArchitectural ShinglesPro Series
Townhome380040004250
Single-Family760080008500
Large Single-Family152001600017000

While these are average prices based on a normal roof replacement, there are other factors that can contribute to a roof replacement such as the condition of the plywood, layers of existing shingles, and any other possible issues that might exist. 

The best recommendation is to look further than just the price but to also look at the roofing warranty as well. While you might save upfront on 3 tab shingles, the warranty isn’t as good when compared to an architectural shingle!

>> Read about our Roofing Warranties here! We explain the entire process transparently and help you weigh the pros and cons of each shingle type!

Roof Replacement vs Roofing Repairs:

There is a saying in the personal finance world that when it comes to our finances, each situation should be treated personally, hence the emphasis on ‘Personal’ finance. The same can be said for your roof. 

While there are metrics that can determine whether an entire roof replacement is more suitable for your home, or perhaps a simple repair, the best thing to do is to first start with a roof inspection. 

Once you have your roof inspected by a certified roofing specialist/contractor, you should weigh your options. It’s vital to weigh all of your options:

  • Is there a possibility for an insurance claim?
  • How old is your roof?
  • Will the repair last, or is a new roof the better long term option?
  • Will a roof repair cost more than just replacing the entire roof?

Typically, if it is something simple like replacing a few shingles, checking out a possible leak, or replacing a section of a ridge vent, a roofing repair is a good option. 

However, when the amount of roofing shingles needing to be replaced reaches a certain threshold, or the repair costs are starting to get to 50% of the cost of a new roof, a roof replacement is usually a better option. 

For example, if a new roof would cost you $7,000, but the repairs cost $3,5000, it’s better to simply replace the roof. 

A new roof has a high return on investment for resale purposes and the new asphalt roofing shingles have amazing technology that makes it hardy and looks better!

Final Word on Roof Shingles –

Roofing shingles are not something we often think about until we have to. Perhaps you wake up to find a few shingles in your yard after a wind storm or you see a bare spot on the backside of your roof. 

There is also the chance that one day you notice that your home’s roof just looks very old. Either way, replacing your roofing shingles is something that should be viewed as an investment. 

So like any investment, it’s best to do your due diligence and get as much information on your end before moving forward with a contractor. 


Top Dog Home Pro proudly serves all of Northern Virginia and specializes in helping homeowners in Woodbridge, Fairfax, Lorton, Springfield, and many more with their roof!