Deciding on a Gutter System

Deciding on a gutter system for your home begins with the roof. The size of the roof, how much annual rainfall it has to deal with, and what it’s made of are just a few factors that determine the kind of gutters that’s best for your home. For a gutter system that will last a long time, choose commercial grade materials, the right size of gutters and downspouts, and a gutter contractor you can trust.

Popular Types of Gutter Materials

The top five gutter materials for residential gutter systems are aluminum gutters, copper gutters, vinyl gutters, steel gutters, and zinc gutters. Aluminum is the most common choice because it’s the least expensive type of metal for gutters; it is durable and weather-resistant, and doesn’t rust.

While copper gutters are high-end and the most expensive, homeowners choose a copper gutter system for its longevity and the beautiful patina it develops over time. They add a timeless appearance to any home’s exterior. For those looking for green options, copper gutters are a natural and sustainable resource.

Vinyl gutters are the least expensive all gutter materials. However, many professional gutter installation companies prefer to use longer lasting products. While it is true that the quality of vinyl gutters has improved over the years, it can become brittle as it ages.

 Sectional or Seamless?

A standard gutter system is sectional. As the name indicates, it is installed in sections which are joined together, forming seams. Seamless aluminum gutters, for example, are made from one continuous coil of metal. When gutters are manufactured like this, it reduces the number of seams where a leak can form. Because seamless gutters are installed on-site to the exact specifications of your roof, seamless gutters can be the ideal solution for a roof configuration that is complex or unique.

Right Size for Gutters and Downspouts

The most common size for a residential gutter system is 5-inch gutters. They are usually matched with 2 x 3-inch (rectangular) downpipes or 3-inch (round) downspouts. For larger homes, 6-inch gutters with 3 x 4-inch (rectangular) downspouts or 4-inch (round) downpipes will handle rainwater better than a gutter width of five inches. Where a 6-inch gutter system would really stick out, 5-inch gutters paired with 4-inch downspouts offers a way to increase the volume of water handled by the gutters without spoiling the aesthetics of the home’s exterior.

Do-It-Yourself or Hire a Professional?

If you’re an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, you might consider installing your new gutters yourself. But it might save you time and money, in the long run, to hire a professional gutter contractor to install them for you. Reasons to hire a professional over making your new gutter system your current DIY project include:

  • it’s safer for you – a professional contractor knows how to keep the crew safe
  • they do installations on a daily basis
  • they will know how to handle any unexpected problems
  • they will be able to correctly calculate gutter pitch and downspout placement

To ensure that your new gutters are installed properly, hire a reputable gutter contractor – ask for references, get a minimum of three estimates, ask a lot of questions, and check out the company’s website or ask for a business card.