It's okay to keep your mind in the gutter if you're protecting your home from water damage
Let's take a moment to recognize the unsung heroes of our homes—your gutter system. The crucial drainage system does everything from protecting the stability of your foundation and fascia to warding off pest infestations. But when all signs point to needing new gutters, it's important to choose the right type for your unique home—and you have plenty of options to choose from.
What to Consider When Choosing Gutters
There are ways to save money when installing new gutters, but the professional eye of a local gutter installation contractor could save you thousands in water damage in the long run. Professionals will consider a few major factors when determining the best type, construction, and materials for your gutters:
The size, shape, and slope of your roof
How far your eaves hang over your roof edge
Your local climate
The age of your home
Your desired aesthetic
Like all home design choices, it's important to balance quality and function with cost. For example, if you live in a storm-prone area where you risk a rogue branch hitting the gutters, you'll need a more durable material to keep your gutters pulling away from the house. Steeply pitched roofs also face more pressure than flatter ones. In addition to the right measurements, the type of gutter is a key to success.
Seamless vs. Sectional Gutters
Here's one of the biggest debates in gutter design: seamless vs. sectional gutters. Sectional gutters are far more DIY-friendly, as you can snap individual pieces together and attach them to your home. But if you think of gutters like your plumbing—more seams mean more potential for leaks, friction, and decay at the joints.
Local seamless gutter professionals can customize a system to your home, creating one direct tube that encircles the eaves of your home. It's the pricier option, but also more durable.
6 Types of Gutters to Consider
While there are many parts of a gutter, from the ever-important downspout to the elbow joints, you'll find more than a few gutter designs to balance function and fashion.
1. K-Style Gutters
By far the most popular type of gutter, K-style gutters get their name from their vague resemblance to the letter K. Both the base and the back of the gutter is flat while the front exterior curves to look like a home's crown molding.
The strength of the K-style gutter lies in its signature shape. For one, installers can nail the back of the gutter directly to the exterior wall of the house. Its curved shape also catches more than half-round gutters and holds up better when impacted with debris.
2. Fascia Gutters
A slightly larger budget will cover the stylish and durable fascia gutters. This style connects to and blends in with your home's fascia board. In other words, someone from the street may not even know you have gutters at all.
Fascia gutters increase curb appeal and provide extra security for regions with extreme weather. Their large capacity is ideal for sudden storms and their strong attachment to your home makes them less likely to catch on a branch.
3. Half-Round Gutters
Half-round gutters are a common pick for their appearance and comparatively low cost but are not the best in high-precipitation areas. The design features a half-pipe, u-shape with a shallower vessel than k-style gutters. They typically attach to your home with attached brackets.
While these gutters take up less space on the edge of your home, they have the tendency to clog and overflow. If you opt for half-rounds, call in your local gutter guard installer to protect against debris.
4. Box Gutters
There's a reason you rarely spot box gutters on homes anymore. The style originated in the late 19th century and was often made of wood and lined with steel. The gutters work similarly to modern fixtures but are much larger and prone to leaks due to their direct attachment to a home. You may see the style on industrial buildings that can handle the extra weight, but they're rarely the right option for homes.
5. Valley Gutters
Roofs with multiple ridges, peaks, and gables—such as Victorian-style homes—may include a valley gutter where two roof edges meet. The valley gutter is either built directly into the seam of the roof or added as concrete or iron.
In theory, valley gutters are a great idea. They direct water and debris toward the main gutter system and keep it from sticking in these joints. However, the gutters can collect so much water from the surrounding roofs that it sends the flow up and over the sprouts below, causing it to land around the foundation of your house.
Valley gutters require a bit more cleaning and upkeep for this reason and are not always advised.
6. Victorian Ogee Gutters
Victorian Ogee gutters are very similar to k-style gutters, but not as common. They feature an S-shape on the outside but still attach directly to the fascia or by using brackets. The recognizable style mirrors the look of Victorian homes but borrows modern structure for better durability.
Common Gutter Materials
The material and measurements of your gutters will also vary depending on your budget, climate, and desired aesthetic. The material will also play one of the largest roles in the cost of gutter replacement. Here are some common materials and their related costs.
Aluminum gutters are typically 0.025, 0.027, or 0.032-inch thick and cost between $4–$7 per linear foot.
Copper gutters cost $15–$30 per linear foot but will cost more if you choose to treat them to avoid oxidation.
Galvanized steel will not last as long as stainless steel, but it is more budget-friendly at $8–$10 per linear foot.
Stainless steel avoids rust like galvanized steel and therefore lasts longer. It costs $16–$20 per linear foot.
Vinyl is very budget-conscious at only $3–$5 per linear foot, as well as easy to install, but they are not recommended for intense climates.
Wood is quite uncommon outside of original box gutters on historic homes, but new installation would cost between $12 and $20 per linear foot.
Who to Hire for Gutter Installation
When hiring the best gutter installation specialist in your area, they should be able to provide a full scope of the project before jumping in. Your estimate should include labor and materials provided in the total cost, potential fees that could change the cost, a timeline of the installation, and a payment schedule.
Spend time discussing your home's gutter options and different materials that will support each choice. The right design will save your attic, roof, and foundation, from costly water damage and many a headache.