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A Complete Guide to All Types of Gutters

Posted by Kevin Leahy on December 18, 2018

A man doing gutter repair and maintenance

Because they do their job silently without fanfare, rain gutters are often a forgotten part of the house unless something goes wrong with them. And unfortunately when that happens it can be costly for you with all the water damage and repairs.

Proper installation, maintenance and quality materials used all can play a big role in how your gutter system withstands the ravages of time and weather.

Gutter systems can come in many different types of gutter materials. Here is what gutters are made of:

Aluminum Gutters

Aluminum gutters have become of the most popular types of gutters (if not the most popular type of gutter), especially for residential gutters. These gutters are lightweight and rust-proof and if you are a DIYer, it won’t give you any particular headaches during the installation process. Other pluses with this type of gutters is that it, unlike vinyl, can withstand cold climates and can be painted whatever color will look best with the outside of your house. They also come in seamless models.

One of the concerns, with choosing aluminum gutters, however, is that it can be easily dented or bent from a whack from the ladder or being stepped on by accident. If you are going to go with aluminum gutters make sure they are made of primary aluminum which is of a higher quality and sturdier than if you choose a system made of recycled aluminum.

Stainless Steel Gutters

Vinyl and aluminum gutters are considered two of the best types of gutters because they are cost efficient, meaning that for what they cost, they do their job well. And they are not over the type expensive either. Stainless steel gutters are another great option, but they come with a heftier price tag. These gutters are the sturdiest of the bunch and they won’t rust at all so if you have the extra money to spend it is a good investment.

Wood Gutters

You don’t see wood gutters a lot because they are more expensive, but architectural purists who are trying to restore an old home, will want them. Be careful though because not all wood gutter products are as effective at their job protecting your home from water damage.

Copper Gutters

Copper gutters are also used in restoration projects. Although expensive, it has a lot of benefits. It doesn’t rust and never needs painting. Make sure to add a sealant though because copper will oxidize and turn green over time if not treated.

Vinyl Gutters

Another type of roof gutters are Vinyl gutters. These types of gutters are less popular though. Their benefits include the ease of installation and the fact that you never have to worry about them rusting. They are also a more economical choice. Because the pieces are lightweight and easily snap together, installation is also a lot easier making it easier for those homeowners who want to do the installation themselves.

The only caveat is that if you live in colder climates, there is the chance that the vinyl can crack over time, and if you don’t install these properly, you may have water pooling in certain sections.

Besides the material of the gutters, you need to decide between sectional versus seamless and K-Shape or Half-Round shape. Keep in mind that round downspouts today are only found on 19th century era houses and they must be one inch longer than the K-Shape to handle the same capacity.

If you live in the western part of the United States, you will also have the option of Fascia gutters which are fixed to a fascia board. It can also be fixed to the end of rafters. For houses built in the 1960s, the gutters might be an integral gutter system which can hold more water, but on the downside are more prone to leaks.

And if you prefer seamless gutters, you are going to have to go with an aluminum gutter system because that is the only type that currently offers a seamless option. In addition, when choosing the shape of the gutters, keep in mind that K-shape gutters carry more water and are more structurally sound than the half-round shape.

With all these options, it can be a bit overwhelming. Remember though that the most important thing is that your home rain gutters does its job moving rainwater quickly and efficiently away from your home. The rest just comes down to the look you prefer and how much you can afford to spend.

Preventing Gutter Leaks

Probably the most common reasons gutters leak and the one easiest to fix is clogged gutters. When you keep avoiding the dreaded chore of cleaning out your rain gutters, they will just fill up with debris making them unable to do their job, routing the runoff after rainstorms from your roof so it drains away from the house so there is no water damage.

When the gutters can’t do their job, the water will damage the roof and come down the walls of your home, and mold can become a real health hazard. When gutters are clogged they also will start to sag and may pull away from the fascia causing even more damage.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to regularly clean out the gutters yourself once or twice a year and after big storms for extra precaution. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, then you can always hire a gutter cleaning company to do it for you.

In addition, gutter systems endure a lot of wear and tear over the years so it is inevitable that leaks and holes will happen. If you are handy, a lot of this you can fix yourself. A leaky gutter joint can easily be sealed up with some caulk and small holes may only need some gutter sealant. For larger holes though you will need a gutter patching kit.

And sometimes there can be problems right from the start when a gutter system is not built properly. If you try to install the gutters yourself and you don’t have a lot of experience or you hire a company that uses a lot of unskilled workers, you make be at risk for poor craftsmanship.

One common mistake made by the uninitiated is installing improperly pitched gutters. Gutters should be pitched down toward the downspouts with at least a quarter inch of slope for every 10 feet otherwise you will end up with standing water.

Another installation mistake is when the downspouts are put too close the foundation of the house. When this happens the water will end up in your basement. If you don’t want to rip out the downspouts and redo everything, you can attach gutter extensions to the bottom of the downspout to redirect the water from the foundation of your home.

One of the last things you will need to consider is whether you are going to have them professionally installed or to do it yourself. If money is a worry, you can definitely save by installing the system yourself, but you need to make sure you know exactly what you are doing and that you are following safety protocols.

Regular maintenance is also important for the health of your gutter system. The SpoutOff system can also help reduce leaks. TheSpoutoff outlets are designed with a larger opening allowing for water to still run down even if other parts of the gutter are clogged. For more information, call The SpoutOff today.


  1. Christi Rodriguez says:

    Thanks for the information.

  2. Steve Smith says:

    I like that you said that regular maintenance could help provide a clean and functional gutter system. My uncle told me last night that he and my aunt were planning to have a gutter system for a cost-effective roof protection system for clogging. He asked if I had any idea what would be the best option to consider to have a proper flow of water off their home. Thanks to this instructive roofing guide article for the best planning approach. I’ll tell him he should consult a trusted gutter solution service as they can provide more information about the installation process.

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