Do You Need to Replace Your Gutters?
Are your gutters rusting out or rotting out the wood on your house? Are you spending a lot of time on a ladder cleaning them out? You may need to upgrade them. Good news! You have more choices than ever. Here’s what to ask your local gutter professional or what to buy if you do a DIY rain gutter replacement.
What’s the Best Gutter Size?
First things first: the width of your gutter channels is very important, as it will determine how much water volume your gutters can handle. You or your gutter installer should consider your area’s average rainfall, the pitch of your roof – a steeper slope needs wider gutters – and how many trees dump leaves on the roof.
Rain gutters usually come in widths of 4 to 7 inches. Five-inch K-style gutters or 6-inch half-rounds are the most popular. The standard has moved to a wider width in recent years – to 5 or 6 inches – only because it is more practical. The idea is to catch a lot of rain and minimize clogging. Downspouts should also be sized to match.
What are Seamless Gutters?
Seams are the first area in which gutters fail, and debris can catch on them easily. The joints between sections can also corrode. Seamless types offer many advantages. They are custom-sized right on the job site. An extrusion machine is set up on a street or driveway. Sheets of metal are fed in and bent into the proper shape and length. To prevent sagging, a single seamless gutter should be no more than 100 feet long. For very long expanses, two seamless pieces can be joined to a single downspout in the middle.
Which Gutter Material Is Best?
Vinyl doesn’t rust, but it has a shorter lifespan than metals and can crack.
Steel is extremely sturdy but it’s heavy and needs extra reinforcement. Over time, non-galvanized types will rust.
Aluminum does not corrode but can be pitted by hail or impact. However, thicker gauges can usually mitigate the problem. Metal gutters are available in a wide array of colors to blend in with your exterior palette.
Copper is a lifelong material and is priced accordingly. It won’t corrode, has welded seams that won’t catch on debris, another option that is also more expensive, both in terms of raw materials and labor. The downside? Rainwater can leach ions from the metal and react with other metals and discolor stucco siding. A professional gutter installation will prevent this problem.
Do I Need Leaf Screens or Leaf Guards?
Most people hate cleaning gutters. It’s tedious and can be dangerous. Gutters with leaf screens or half-pipes might be worth the extra expense. Leaf screens use heavy mesh over the channels to keep large leaves and debris out. Leaf guards have a rounded, enclosed top with a channel at the bottom. It lets water in and the debris flies around the top edge and onto the ground.
While it’s possible to install gutters yourself, sizing them requires expertise, and it’s almost impossible to create seamless gutters without a professional extruding machine. Look for a local gutter installer who offers experience, references and a written guarantee.