A gutter helmet's nose-forward design protects a continuous 3/8-inch water opening designed to keep leaves and debris out of the gutter, while a leaf guard's 5/8-inch vertical opening is less likely to prevent debris from entering the gutter. Gutter helmets, while appearing seamless, are comprised of 5-foot overlapping sections, making it possible, should there be denting or other damage, to replace only the damaged section. When a leaf guard gutter is damaged, it's necessary to replace the entire gutter.
Another gutter helmet advantage, as noted by the manufacturer, is its textured coating, which resists fading and purportedly performs 60 percent better than a leaf guard's smooth surface. Also, gutter helmets are designed to fit full-sized gutters, which can be pitched to provide the greatest amount of drainage in the smallest possible run. Leaf guard gutters are a single continuous piece, which must be pitched high to low and require more downspouts. The gutter helmet manufacturer also touts quality control and monitoring at its centralized manufacturing facility as an advantage over leaf guards, which are franchised and manufactured on the job site by dealers who buy gutter stock and pay a royalty fee to the leaf guard's parent company.
Gutter helmets attach to the roof and cover an open gutter while leaf guards are one-piece gutter and hood systems that attach to the fascia. Claims vary as to which type of installation is more advantageous and less damaging to a structure.