What kind of gutters should I have?
Gutters perform the task of re-routing rainwater to protect your siding, windows, doors and foundation.
Steel or vinyl gutters have to be replaced at some point. Generally, you should start paying attention at the first signs of rust to avoid extensive repairs that will demand more time and money.
You will start to notice the rust when it shows up through the paint as little orange speckles, usually at the end of downspouts or at gutter seams that are separated or leaking. If you are seeing rust on the outside, it means your gutters have already started rusting on the inside.
Consider these four things when choosing gutters:
1. Gutter Material
2. Seamless or Traditional Style of Gutter
3. Gutter Shape
4. Gutter Size
The material you choose for your gutters will affect the look, durability, and amount of maintenance needed in the future. Choose a material that fits within your budget and home maintenance style.
A seamless gutter system offers several advantages that a traditional gutter just can't give. The biggest one being that there isn't a break in the gutter. However, don't rely on the myth that seamless means no leaks. Seamless gutters do still have "seams" and places where leaks can develop. There is a seam at each end of the gutter, at each outlet tube, and there is a seam every time the gutter turns a corner (bends). Leaks may start in any of these places.
So, don't buy a seamless gutter because you think it will never leak.
The greatest benefit of seamless gutters is that they require less maintenance. Depending on your choice of material and configuration, you could get away with many months of consistent use without any major cleaning. Seamless gutters are also hung far more securely than traditional gutters, lending an additional level of security to the home. Plus, chipmunks, birds and other pests have a harder time getting into seamless gutters.
Another advantage is that seamless gutters can be configured to many different colors and styles to match up perfectly with your home's exterior.
The biggest disadvantage to choosing seamless gutters is the cost. Since seamless gutters are cut to the exact lengths on site, you'll have to utilize the services of a professional seamless gutter installation company.
Traditional (Sectional) Gutters
Traditional galvanized gutters are pre-manufactured steel gutters, and need to be painted by the homeowner or a painting contractor after the installation. Galvanized gutters have an average life span of 18 years if they are cared for and cleaned on a regular basis. Typically galvanized gutters have an expansion joint every 20 feet.
Another benefit of traditional gutters is that they can be replaced in sections. When you start seeing rust or damage, you should take action. The earlier you replace your gutters, the better -- if you get it done early enough, you may only need to replace a few areas.
To determine the right sizes for your home, consider the climate and rainfall density of the area you live in. Also, take into consideration the shape of your roof and the surrounding foliage. A home that sees a lot of rain or has a steep roof should have a larger gutter system. Similarly, a home surrounded by tall trees will need a larger system to prevent clogging from falling leaves.
The thickness of your gutter material is rated differently, depending on the material you decide to use. The thicker your gutter system, the sturdier, durable, and more expensive it will be. Again, you should choose the right gutter system size to fit your home's needs as well as your budget. Aluminum systems range from .019 to .032 inches in thickness. Thickness of copper is usually rated in weight, with heavier weights indicating greater thickness. It is common to see 16 oz and 20 oz options for copper systems. Steel may be rated in either inch-thickness or gauge. Ask your gutter professional for recommendations and always get a second opinion.
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