Homeowners, allow me to put my mind in the gutter for a moment now that most of the leaves have fallen. (Renters, mosey on. The gutter is not a place for you.)

You can pay big bucks to have the hooded gutters professionally installed ($13 to $28 per linear foot when I priced it three years ago) and never worry about it again. 

A cheaper alternative is the self-installed gutter filter. It's a dense, exterior-grade foam that comes in 4 or 5-ft. lengths. When I priced it by a local company in 2006 it was about $7.50 per linear foot--cheaper than Gutter Helmet or Leafaway but still pricey for foam. 

But on Costco.com, the GutterStuff filter is only $2.81 per linear foot, delivered. You have to buy 32 linear feet (eight 4-ft. sections). My concern with the foam inserts is that leaves will stick on top when wet. Eventually I think the leaves will blow off when dry, but I worry that anyone with falling pine tree needles will have gutters that resemble elongated pin cushions. The good news is that Costco will stand behind the purchase with a money back guarantee. According to the website, the product has a 5-year guarantee, but Costo's warranty is indefinite, even if the product is bought online.

I tried the Sheerflow fiberglass screens, which come in 4-foot sections in white or brown, at Menards. Fleet Farm, Home Depot and Lowe's sell a similar product. The Sheerflow has two screens, including a fine
screen mesh. The fine mesh, which is installed facing up, keeps out seed "helicopters," leaves and debris. Occasionally, wet leaves or seed debris collects on top, but it usually blows off when dry. At worst, you may need to get out the ladder to brush off the screens. Try these before you invest thousands in the hooded gutter system.
The two-layer screens work much better than aluminum inserts or the single-layer screens without a fine mesh on top (helicopters and leaves get stuck in the holes). One caveat: several readers have told me that they installed the Sheerflow product and find that the screens are so fine that water runs over the screens, not into the gutter. I have not found that to be true but am monitoring it.

Anyone else want to join me in the gutter?Do you have the foam inserts? Like 'em, hate 'em?  What's your own favorite or least favorite gutter guard?