The Pros and Cons of Foam Gutter Guards

black colored foam gutter guard

If you’re in the market for gutter guards but your budget is a little tight, you might consider some of the DIY options out there, like foam gutter guards. They are generally less expensive and will save on installation costs, but there are pros and cons to foam gutter guards. You need to know what they are before deciding whether they are a good option for you.  

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What Are Foam Gutter Guards?

Foam gutter guards are inserts that fit snugly in your gutters. They come pre-cut and shaped to match the size of most gutters, although some may need to be trimmed to fit.

They are made of either polyether, polyester, or polyurethane foam and are designed with holes that block large debris but still allow water to pass through and down your gutters.

Foam gutter guards have a trapezoidal shape. They’re typically 8 feet in length and 5 inches wide, with gentle ridges on top that act like fins to catch debris before it gets into the gutter. The foam is lightweight and flexible, allowing it to fit snugly into any kind of gutter design.

Pros of Foam Gutter Guards

Foam gutter guards offer a range of benefits that make them an attractive option for homeowners. Here are some of the pros:

Ease of Installation

DIYers and home improvement enthusiasts will be over the moon about this: foam gutter guards are a breeze to install. They don’t require any special tools, and you can usually trim them to fit perfectly, even in custom gutters.

With no need to hire someone or use any special tools, you can install them without breaking the bank—saving you both time and money.

Low Price Tag & Maintenance Costs

This is a biggie: foam gutter guards are inexpensive. They typically cost about $2 per foot and can be found at most hardware stores. What’s more, they don’t require a lot of upkeep.

Foam gutter guards are designed with raised ridges that blow off some of the debris in windy conditions. What’s left can usually be washed away with algaecide and rinsed clean once or twice a year. Easy peasy!

They Don’t Change the Visuals of Your Home

Foam gutter guards are often invisible from the ground, so they won’t detract from your home’s curb appeal. This makes them a great choice for anyone looking for discreet, no-fuss gutter protection without disturbing their home’s aesthetic.

While other gutter covers may stick out or disrupt the look of their roof’s contours and curves, foam gutter guards lay flat with your existing gutters.

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Cons of Foam Gutter Guards

black colored foam gutter guard
Photo Credit: Tom McNiff / MyGutterGnome

It’s not all sunshine and roses with foam gutter guards, though. Here are the downsides:

Lose Shape Over Time

Foam gutter guards are flexible and can be removed easily for cleaning. Unfortunately, their flexibility can also be a drawback: they weaken over time. Every time you take them down for cleaning, the foam loses some of its shape, and the fit in your gutters won’t be as snug.

Short Lifespan

Foam gutter guards are made from lightweight, flexible materials, so they don’t enjoy the same longevity as other styles. Most will start to break down after two to three years of use, with the most durable option maxing out at five.

Quality is also an issue: if your foam gutter guards aren’t UV-stabilized, they could start cracking and shrinking after just one summer.

Don’t Work Well in All Weather Conditions

Freezing temperatures are hard on foam gutter guards. If they’re not removed during the winter, the foams can freeze and expand in your gutters. As temperatures rise in the spring, they start to thaw and become a breeding ground for weeds and mold. They also don’t perform especially well in very heavy rain events. Although they’re porous, they don’t allow water to filter down as quickly as other styles.

Small Debris Can Slip Through

Foam gutter guards are designed to prevent large debris like leaves and twigs from entering the gutters, but small seeds or pine needles can slip through. The pores in foam gutter guards are small, but they can still get filled up with debris over time and impede the flow of water and cause clogs.

Any water that accumulates in the foam due to poor drainage can create a breeding ground for harmful pests like mosquitoes, and it can also create an excellent environment for mold, mildew, fungus, and more.

Foam Gutter Guards Vs. Other Options

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Foam gutter guards aren’t your only option. Here’s how foam gutter guards stack up against other different types of gutter guards:

Brush Gutter Guards

Like foam gutter guards, these bristle-covered inserts fit snugly in your gutters. Their bristles are designed to catch large debris before it gets in your gutter. However, brush gutter guards tend to build up debris over time and will require frequent cleaning. They do, however, have one big advantage over foam: the air circulation they provide can help to prevent rusting in your gutters.

Micro Mesh and Other Screen Gutter Guards

Most screens consist of metal sheets with perforated holes that let through moisture while preventing larger particles from entering. Of all the screen products, micro mesh gutter guards are the most reliable.

The tiny holes stop all but the smallest debris, allowing water to pass through your gutters. Micro mesh gutter guards usually need professional installation and require more maintenance than foam guards, but they offer superior protection.

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Reverse Curve Guards

This is the oldest type of gutter guard system and consists of plastic or metal curved pieces that fit along the edge of the gutter. Reverse curve guards force larger debris to slide off the roof shingles and keep smaller debris from entering the gutters.

They can be expensive to install and are visible from below, but they provide some of the most reliable protection available.

Foam Gutter Guards Tips

Pros and cons aside, foam gutter guards can still be a great choice for homeowners who don’t want to commit to the high cost and maintenance of other models. To get the most out of these foam inserts, here are some tips to keep in mind:

Don’t Focus on Price Alone

It’s understandable to be on the lookout for a bargain, especially when it comes down to keeping your expenses in check. However, buying from the lowest-priced provider isn’t always the smartest option. You’re going to want to buy gutter guards that are durable and reliable enough to do their job of keeping debris out.

Cut corners, and you could wind up regretting it and spending more in the long run. UV-resistant materials are best. Remember, these gutter guards will be exposed to the sun for a couple of years.

As any responsible homeowner knows, asking the right questions is just as important as the price tag when it comes to shopping around. Here are some important questions to consider when shopping for gutter guards:

• Do I really need a foam gutter guard system?

• What are the potential risks of using foam inserts?

• How often will I have to clean my gutters with or without guards in place?

• What other types of gutter guards should I consider?

• How much am I prepared to invest in this project?

• Can I clean my foam gutter guards myself, or do I need a professional?

• What are the reviews of the product(s) that I’m looking at?

Understand the Differences

What sets gutter guards apart is their performance.

Microfiber mesh screens are designed to catch debris much smaller than what foam inserts could manage, and they don’t need changing or cleaning as often either.

Vinyl and metal systems may require more maintenance and have a higher price tag, but they are usually best at keeping out debris. Consider what type of environment you live in and consider which one works best with the harshness of the weather.

Research Is Your Best Friend

When it comes down to trusting not only the salespeople you encounter but also the reviews posted online, research is your best bet. Read other people’s experiences with the product and review independent test results. It will pay off to take the time and read up on everything you need to know regarding the best gutter guards for your home.

Take everything with a grain of salt, including the sales rep’s enthusiastic pitch. Your ultimate goal is to make the right decision for your wallet and your home, so don’t rush into a purchase.

FAQ About Foam Gutter Guards

Do foam gutter guards work?

Yes, foam gutter guards do work. They are built to minimize the amount of debris entering your gutters, and they perform effectively at keeping out larger items such as leaves and twigs.

How long do foam gutter guards last?

Foam gutter guards are generally designed to last up to three years. However, with proper care and maintenance, they can last much longer. It’s not a permanent solution, but it’s a good choice for anyone on a budget.

Do foam gutter guards get brittle?

Foam gutter guards that are not UV-resistant may become brittle over time and will need to be replaced if they start breaking up.

Do foam gutter guards cause problems?

Foam gutter guards accumulate mud and moss. The best ones will prevent these while still protecting the gutters from insects and small animals.

How Do You Clean Foam Gutter Guards?

Maintenance-free is a bit of a misnomer with any gutter guard and a common gutter cleaning myth. For an easy gutter cleaning, start by removing the gutter guards from your gutters and disposing of any large debris. Rinse the gutter guards until all the dirt has been removed from their pores, then wipe them down with an algaecide sanitizing solution before putting them back up.


Do foam gutter guards work? Yes, they do. They may not have the same performance as some of the higher-end options, but foam gutter guards make an affordable and reliable choice for anyone looking for basic protection at a low price point. And though they’re not permanent solutions, foam gutter guards can last several years with proper care and maintenance.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive way to keep your gutters in tip-top condition, then foam gutter guards might be the right solution for you. But don’t make the decision lightly. Consider all of your options and research each product before pulling out your debit card. When it comes to gutter protection, we can all agree: the better prepared you are, the easier taking on life’s little rainy-day surprises becomes.

Still not sure whether gutter guards are right for you, or which one? Contact one of our gutter professionals, and they can help.

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Main Image Credit: Tom McNiff / MyGutterGnome

Adrian Nita

Adrian is a former marine navigation officer turned writer with more than 3 years of experience in the field. He loves writing about anything and everything but specializes in covering smart technology and gardening. When he's not writing, Adrian enjoys spending time with his family and friends or hiking in the great outdoors.