MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter:
Gutter Guard System Comparison Guide
Pitting Two Popular Gutter Covers In Puget Sound
Head-To-Head In Five Key Categories.
Have you been searching for a proven gutter protection solution for your home? If so, you’ve come across MasterShield and LeafFilter—two of the most popular gutter guards in Puget Sound—during your research.
MasterShield and LeafFilter are both micromesh gutter covers. In fact, they were invented by the same person. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
LeafFilter is an older gutter guard. It was THE first micromesh gutter guard of its kind and became the prototype for future micromesh gutter-cover designs.
MasterShield is the newer, vastly improved version of the LeafFilter micromesh concept. It takes all the good aspects of LeafFilter while tossing out its problems.
Think of it this way: if LeafFilter is an iPhone 5, MasterShield is an iPhone 13 Pro Max. If LeafFilter is an analog television with rabbit ears, MasterShield is an Ultra-Definition 4K Smart TV. They have the same base technology… but the difference in features and performance is staggering. Note that this was written in 2022, so these were new things at the time.
Let’s compare MasterShield and LeafFilter in five categories and see just how different these micromesh gutter guards work in Puget Sound weather.
Table of Contents:
MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter: System Type
LeafFilter System Type: Micromesh
LeafFilter is what the kids might call the “O.G.” microfiltration gutter protection system. It was developed by builder/inventor Alex Higginbotham in 2001, and it became a smashing success. At the time, no micromesh solution like it existed.
LeafFilter micromesh gutter protection system.
But that was then. This is now.
In the 20+ years it’s been around, LeafFilter has never seen any major upgrades or enhancements. It’s virtually the same product that it was at the turn of the century—and that means it has the same weaknesses it had at the turn of the century.
MasterShield System Type: Sloped Micromesh
If LeafFilter is Alex Higginbotham’s “first draft” of a micromesh gutter guard, MasterShield is his fully realized Mona Lisa.
Alex created MasterShield in 2004 after realizing LeafFilter was a “design dead-end.” At that point, LeafFilter had been on the market for three years, so Alex was able to see what worked with the system… and what didn’t.
He used this data to guide the design development of MasterShield. This led to improvements in the following areas:
- Rather than lying flat on top of gutters, MasterShield could be installed on a slope to match a roof’s pitch
- Unlike LeafFilter, MasterShield’s casing was made with metal instead of plastic
- MasterShield introduced HyrdoVortex technology, which proactively pulls water into the gutters (rather than simply relying on gravity)
And the best innovation of all? Leaving room for future innovation.
This is where MasterShield really has the leg up on LeafFilter. To this day, MasterShield receives tweaks, enhancements, and upgrades consistently. We’ll explore these advancements in the next few sections.
MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter: Water Management
LeafFilter Water Management
With regards to water management, LeafFilter functions the same as other micromesh systems. Water enters through the screen and into your gutters, and gravity does the rest. Pretty simple, pretty effective…
As long as the screen isn’t clogged.
That’s the big problem with flat-lying micromesh gutter covers. They work fine when nothing’s blocking the screen—but it’s a rare occasion when there ARE no obstructions.
Foliage collects on flat-lying gutter covers like LeafFilter.
As such, LeafFilter’s water management issues are mainly due to clogging and damming. That’s something we explore further in the Clog Protection section.
MasterShield Water Management
MasterShield’s patented slope fixes the clogging and damming problems you get with flat systems like LeafFilter. The angle of MasterShield matches the pitch of your roof, which easily allows foliage and debris to roll off.
MasterShield can be installed at virtually any angle.
This slope eliminates the “shelf” effect, which creates an unobstructed path for water to flow into your gutters.
Here’s a brief video showing you how MasterShield handles water:
To further enhance water-management capability, MasterShield utilizes patented HydroVortex technology. The holes in the mesh wiring are specially shaped to act as siphons that actually help pull water into your gutters!
MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter: Clog Protection
LeafFilter Clog Protection
As mentioned in the Water Management section, a lot of LeafFilter’s issues are due to how it handles debris. This video review from a real LeafFilter customer tells you all you need to know:
Now, let’s break down LeafFilter’s clogging issues into four categories.
#1: Clogging Issues Due To LeafFilter Lying Flat
LeafFilter advertises that it has an 11º shedding angle. That means for every 2.5” up, it’s 12” sideways. This is commonly referred to as 2.5/12 pitch.
To put that into perspective, a typical residential roof pitch is 6/12. In plain English, LeafFilter lies like a flat shelf, rather than matching the angle of the average roof. And this is what happens…
Debris pileup on LeafFilter.
This mat of debris will block water from even touching the guard, diverting it right to the ground.
#2: Clogging Issues LeafFilter Has With Corners
For roof valleys and corners, LeafFilter has a water diverter. This diverter is supposed to help direct rainwater in your roof’s valleys into your gutters.
The problem: Because LeafFilter lies flat (sensing a pattern?), debris builds up next to the diverter. This leads to standing water that pools on LeafFilter and just… sits there:
When it comes to corners, LeafFilter can’t cut it.
This is actually WORSE than having no gutters at all. At least then, wet debris won’t soak water into your roof edge and cause you thousands of dollars in roof damage.
#3: Clogging Issues Due To LeafFilter’s Screen
Foliage isn’t LeafFilter’s only enemy. Like most micromesh gutter guards, LeafFilter is susceptible to clogging from shingle oil, algae, and dirt particles.
Here’s an up-close-and-personal photo of what that can lead to:
LeafFilter’s screen can become clogged with algae, dirt, and roof oil.
As you can see in the picture, a plugged-up screen blocks water from getting into your gutters. You might as well have no gutter protection at all!
#4: Problems Due To LeafFilter Being Plastic
Plastic is pretty neat stuff. But there’s a reason Alex Higginbotham switched to all-metal construction for MasterShield.
It doesn’t take long for the sun to warp and distort LeafFilter’s plastic substrate. In direct sunlight, the plastic expands; when it cools down again, the plastic casing shrinks.
When warping occurs, LeafFilter can separate at the seams. Here’s an example:
The red arrow shows where this LeafFilter cover has warped.
This warping can also cause the screen to tear away from the casing. Naturally, that will create an opening for debris to enter your gutters. Here’s another photo of LeafFilter’s plastic case warping:
Another example of LeafFilter warping due to weather.
In this image, you can also see how warping can cause a split in the screen, which lets in debris.
Bottom line: Puget Sound weather and plastic don’t mix.
MasterShield Clog Protection
When Alex Higginbotham developed MasterShield, he made certain to correct the clogging issues of LeafFilter.
- Expansion and contraction? Gone.
- Clogged corners? Gone.
- The “shelf” effect? Gone.
Here’s a look at how MasterShield eliminates problems common with other micromesh systems…
How MasterShield’s Slope Solves Debris Build-Up & Corner Clogs
As mentioned in the Water Management section, MasterShield is installed on a patented slope. This slope matches the pitch of your roof, so debris won’t get trapped on top of the system. MasterShield’s angled installation is also what keeps your corners and valleys free from foliage.
MasterShield’s slope means no clogs in corners and valleys.
And let’s face it: When leaves and foliage get wet, they tend to stick to surfaces. MasterShield solves this problem too. Its exclusive non-stick LeafRelease™ micro-filtration technology allows debris to dry—and therefore blow away—faster!
How MasterShield’s Copper Solves Screen-Related Clogs
The beauty of MasterShield is in its ability to evolve. In 2020, special copper wiring was included in MasterShield’s micromesh screen. This has proven to be a game-changer.
MasterShield’s copper technology breaks down dirt and oil.
Copper breaks down microorganisms and oil at a molecular level. It attacks algae, mold, mildew, dirt, and the other small things that can potentially plug the screen. This makes MasterShield the first self-cleaning gutter guard—and the first micromesh system to solve the clogged-screen dilemma.
How MasterShield’s Metal Casing Solves Warp-Related Clogs
It’s simple: Metal doesn’t warp and bend when exposed to heat and cold the way that plastic does.
MasterShield’s metal casing is 100% warp-proof.
When it comes to gutter protection, metal just makes sense. It’s stronger, more rigid, and longer-lasting than plastic. Period.
MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter: Installation
LeafFilter is a standalone gutter guard, so it can be installed on your existing gutters. If your eaves and downspouts are in good shape, there’s no need to replace them.
LeafFilter is screwed on top of your gutters, so it does not affect your roof’s warranty. In theory, it’s a good installation method. The problem, yet again, comes from LeafFilter being made of plastic.
Since plastic expands and contracts as the weather changes, fastening down LeafFilter’s casing causes it to warp over time. Here’s an example:
Screws pin down LeafFilter’s plastic case, causing it to warp.
As mentioned in the Clog Protection section, LeafFilter has to be installed at a very specific angle. Unless you have a flat roof, LeafFilter won’t match your roof’s pitch. This, in turn, creates the dreaded “shelf” effect that causes debris to pile up.
Like LeafFilter, MasterShield can be installed on your pre-existing gutters or new gutters you invest in.
MasterShield is put on your gutters with a special “floating” installation method. It’s secured—without screws—between your roof’s starter shingles and the first row of main shingles. The weight of the shingles locks MasterShield in place, and your roof’s warranty remains fully intact.
Here are signed letters from four of the roofing industry’s biggest manufacturers stating that MasterShield is 100% compatible with their products:
MasterShield Vs. LeafFilter: Warranty
LeafFilter has a really nice no-clog guarantee. Most no-clog guarantees just mean that if your gutters do clog, a gutter-guard company rep will come out and clean the clog. But LeafFilter promises to repair the issue or refund the purchase price if you experience a clog. This warranty is also transferable to the next homeowner.
Not too shabby!
The downside? It’s not a matter of if LeafFilter clogs… it’s when. As mentioned in the Clog Protection section, LeafFilter has several design flaws that create clogging weak points. Not all of these are covered in LeafFilter’s warranty, so be sure to read the fine print carefully.
Like LeafFilter’s no-clog guarantee, MasterShield’s Lifetime No-Clog Warranty covers the cost of repair or replacement… and then some.
If the clog damages your home in a way that’s claimable on your homeowner’s insurance policy, you’ll be refunded your insurance deductible up to $1,500. This warranty is 100% transferable to the next homeowner, which is an attractive selling point for potential buyers.
Schedule A Free Gutter Protection Quote Today!
If you want gutter protection that’s TRULY built to handle the Puget Sound weather, choose MasterShield from Leafless In Seattle. Contact Us today to schedule a free consultation and quote. We install gutter protection for homeowners in Seattle, Tacoma, Kent, and the surrounding areas.
We can’t wait to hear from you!