While not the most attractive or exciting feature on a house, gutters are very important to the overall health of your home. When it’s time to replace your gutters, it’s important that you make an educated and informed decision best suited to your home. Here’s what you need to know about the most common types and materials, and tips to help you pick the best gutters for your home.
It’s possible you’ve never really thought about your gutters or what they do exactly. Gutters play an important role in preventing water damage to your home’s foundation. They collect the runoff rain, snow, and water from your roof and divert it away from your siding and foundation to a different area where it will do the least amount of damage.
The best gutters are ones that quickly and efficiently move water away from your home. Everything else is based on cost and aesthetics. Below are the most common types and materials of gutters to consider.
Gutter Types: Sectional Vs. Seamless
Sectional gutters, sometimes referred to as seamed, come in 10 foot long pieces that are attached to your home’s fascia board with hangers. The sectional pieces are then snapped together with joiner pieces. The installation process is fairly simple and most materials can be purchased at home improvement stores. Adding sectional gutters to a 1300 square foot home is a project that will take roughly one weekend. You can enlist the help of a handyman to add sectional gutters to your home.
As the name suggests, sectional gutters come in sections that can be added or removed. Because of this, they are the easiest to replace and the most economical choice. If one section becomes damaged, simply remove it and replace with a new section. These gutters are available in vinyl, steel or aluminium, in a variety of colours depending on where you shop.
One drawback of sectional gutters is that there is room for leaks. At each point where the gutters connect, there will be a seam and divets. If damaged or disrupted, these seams can lead to leaks in your gutters. If you’re concerned about the potential for leaks, speak to a gutter installation specialist and ask if this is the best option for your home.
If you’re willing to pay more, you can have seamless gutters installed onto your home. Seamless gutters are available in more colour choices and do not leak like sectional gutters.
For seamless gutters, you will need the help of a gutter installation specialist. To achieve that seamless look, these gutters are made right on the premises of your home. Typically a mobile shop will arrive at your home and the technicians will get to work. They will measure the length of gutters you need and then perform a “gutter run out.” In this process, long pieces of aluminium are run through a machine that extrudes the metal and forms it into gutters instantly. This is a quick process with gutters coming out of the machine as fast as 45 feet per minute. Seamless gutters have no limit to their length and so can be custom fit to your home.
Due to the labour involved and the customization, seamless gutters do cost more to install and replace. Depending on the material you chose and the square footage of your home, you could expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $5000. There could also be an additional cost for labour, delivery, and the materials required to install. Be sure to ask about these potential additional costs when you get a quote.
Gutters come in a variety of materials, each with their own pros and cons. Ultimately the choice will come down to cost and aesthetics.
Pros: A popular choice due to its economical price point, vinyl gutters can cost anywhere from $4 to $8 per piece. When in good shape, they are very effective in moving water away from your foundation. Another benefit is the fact that they do not rust or corrode.
Cons: Vinyl is not the best choice for climates with extreme weather. The cold can cause the vinyl to become brittle and crack over time, requiring it to be replaced sooner than other more durable materials. In addition to cracking, poor installation can cause problems such as sagging.
Vinyl gutters are a good option if you live in a temperate climate and are in need of new gutters while on a tight budget.
Pros: Similar to vinyl, aluminium gutters are lightweight, rust-proof and easy to work with. Unlike vinyl, they are weather resistant and maintain their integrity in cold climates and can be painted. They can be used for both seamless and sectional gutters. A cost-effective option, they will run you between $6 and $12 per piece.
Cons: The main drawback with aluminium gutters is that they are not as structurally sound as other materials. They can be easily dented and become misshapen by a poorly placed ladder. While this means that they may need to be replaced sooner than other materials, they are a popular choice due to their price point and cold weather durability.
Pros: The sturdiest and most expensive option, stainless steel gutters are great for Canadian homes. While they do not necessarily perform better than other materials, they are a good option for harsh Canadian climates. This is because they are stronger and heavier than aluminium so they can withstand the weather better and last longer. Below freezing temperatures and heavy rains will not phase stainless steel gutters. They will not rust and will continue to look great for years to come.
Cons: The biggest drawback is cost. Stainless steel gutters will cost you between $11 and $33 per piece. While the initial investment is big, their durability and longevity mean it’s much less likely you will have to replace them any time soon.
Now that you have a better idea of your options, all that is left to do is make a decision. Consider your budget and how you want your gutters to look on your home. Do you care more about having new gutters right now or do you want to save up and invest in gutters that will last? The choice is up to you, but it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional. Speak with a gutter installation specialist to get their professional opinion about the best gutters for your home.
Cover image courtesy of House Logic.