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Rain gutters are more important than you might think. Not only do they keep rain from drenching you as you come in the door, but they also direct water away from your siding and foundation. This reduces the risk of water damage to your home, from foundation settlement and basement flooding to mold development.
Though gutters are a relatively simple structure, they come in various styles and materials that each have benefits and drawbacks. This guide will help you make sense of the different types of gutters and determine the right fit for your home. If you want to invest in gutter guards to keep your gutters clean, we’ve also researched and ranked some of the best gutter guard services in the United States.
Type of Gutters
Rain gutters come in four different primary styles. Read about each gutter shape in detail below.
K-style gutters are the most common type of gutter because they’re DIY-friendly and have a decorative look that resembles crown molding.
They come in standard 5-inch to 6-inch widths and often feature rectangular downspouts. They also have a flat back and can be nailed directly into your fascia boards, making them easy to install.
On the downside, K-style gutters are more challenging to clean than other gutters. Their inner angles collect a lot of debris, leading to rotting.
Half-round gutters feature a semicircular trough with a curved lip. This design makes them better suited for round downspouts. Like K-style gutters, half-round gutters come in 5-inch to 6-inch widths. These gutters were popular in homes built before 1960 and have a more traditional look. For this reason, they work well for historic and brick homes. If your home is historical or in an older neighborhood, your local ordinance may even require you to have this type of gutter.
Though box-style gutters are typically found on commercial and industrial buildings, they’ve been used on residential homes to give them an industrial aesthetic. These gutters are oversized and designed to handle large amounts of rainwater, making them ideal for homes with big roofs. They usually come in 7-inch and 8-inch widths, but some are as wide as 10 inches.
Unlike K-style and half-round gutters, box-style gutters aren’t hung on the edge of your roof. Instead, they have a high back section that tucks under your roof’s shingles. This means they have to be installed while your home is being built.
Fascia gutters are custom-built gutters that provide a seamless, contemporary look. You’ll need to work with a professional installer who will build a gutter system from one long piece of aluminum specifically tailored to your home. For this reason, fascia gutters can cost up to twice as much as half-round or K-style gutters.
Types of Gutter Materials
Gutters come in various materials to match your home’s appearance and budget. Read about the most popular gutter materials below.
Wood gutters add character to any home, but we recommend them if you have a historic home. They’re an easy way to make your exterior look more luxurious. However, wood gutters require routine treatment with stains or paint each year. Their interior also requires water-resistant oil. If not maintained adequately, wood gutters rot.
If you want one of the most low-maintenance gutter options, pre-weathered zinc gutters are excellent. These gutters don’t rust, and they include a self-sealing patina that prevents the formation of any scratches or cracks from falling debris. This means you get good-looking gutters for a longer amount of time; zinc gutters have a lifespan of up to 80 years.
Made from PVC and plastics, vinyl gutters are among the most common types of gutters. Though they’re easy to install, they aren’t very durable, lasting an average of only 10 to 20 years. Vinyl tends to deteriorate particularly quickly in wet climates.
Aluminum gutters are another popular option for gutter systems. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years and work well for DIY installation. Aluminum gutters are also rust-resistant, but they’re more susceptible to cracking than other metal gutters because they’re lightweight.
Galvanized Steel Gutters
Galvanized steel gutters are more durable than aluminum ones and require professional installation. These gutters are durable and function well even in wet climates with heavy rainfall. They have a longer average lifespan of 20 to 30 years but may rust if not correctly maintained.
Important Gutter Terms to Know
There are many words and phrases related to gutter systems that you likely haven’t heard in your everyday life. Some of these may be confusing, so we’ve listed some of the most important terms to know below.
- Downspouts: This is the part of your gutters that runs vertically down the side of your house. These segments direct water from your roof to the ground or a collection vessel.
- Downspout Elbow: This refers to the angled piece at the bottom of a downspout. It resembles the look of an elbow and directs water further away from your home’s foundation.
- End Caps: End caps fit onto the end of each gutter to seal it off.
- Hangers: These are strips of metal that support the bottom of the gutter and prevent it from sagging. They’re typically unnoticeable unless you’re looking for them directly.
- Mitered Corner: This refers to the piece of gutter that fits on your roof’s corner.
- Section: This is a unit of measurement for each piece of gutter.
Gutters can be overlooked parts of your home that add a ton of protection and security plus extra flair and character. Consider all the information above to determine which type of gutter is best for your home’s needs.
We also recommend that homeowners look into gutter guards. These improve your gutter system‘s efficiency, reliability, and longevity by preventing clogs. Read about our top recommendations for gutter guard services and gutter installation below.
- Material: Steel micro-mesh
What We Like: LeafFilter offers a three-piece gutter guard system made of micro-mesh. These are the most efficient guards because they catch even small debris like pollen and shingle grit.
LeafFilter also aligns the gutter cover to blend seamlessly with your roof. The company offers various gutter colors to match your home’s aesthetic.
Call for a free quote: 800-940-4391
Read more: LeafFilter Review
- Material: Steel micro-mesh
- Warranty Length: Transferable lifetime
- Get a Quick Quote: Visit HomeCraft site
What We Like: HomeCraft Gutter Protection provides new gutter installation and replacement for its marine-grade, stainless steel micro-mesh gutter guard. The guards have a raised diamond design that allows them to push out large, flat debris-like leaves easily. HomeCraft’s guard also has a powder-coated aluminum frame that fits almost any gutter size.
Read More: HomeCraft Gutter Protection Review
Frequently Asked Questions About Types of Gutters
How much does it cost to install gutters?
Gutter installation costs between $1,000 and $5,600 for 200 linear feet. The national average is around $3,234. Low-end options like vinyl gutters cost around $3 to $6 per linear foot, and high-quality options such as steel might cost around $10 to $20 per linear foot.
Are vinyl gutters better than aluminum?
Aluminum gutters are more durable than vinyl, but they’re more easily dented. Consider your local climate and typical weather conditions to determine the best types of gutters for your home. If the weather is relatively mild where you live, vinyl is an acceptable option. However, if you experience intense storms and wind, you may want to consider aluminum or a more durable gutter material like steel.
Why are clean gutters important?
Cleaning your gutters is important because it ensures a clear pathway for water runoff to be directed away from your home’s siding and foundation. Gutter cleaning also helps you avoid damage to your landscaping from overspills, mold, mildew, and corrosion on your gutters and roof.
How We Chose the Top Gutter Guard Providers
We researched and analyzed dozens of gutter guards and gutter guard companies to create an in-depth review methodology. We formulated a rating system based on the factors homeowners find most important. We evaluated each provider’s gutter guard design and aesthetics, service offerings, customer service and communication, quote process, warranties, and financing options.
We created a separate rating system for DIY-installed gutter guards sold on retailer sites. We evaluated these guards based on their quality of materials, aesthetics, communication, warranty, customer reviews, and cost.
We evaluated each provider’s reputation using independent, third-party sites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Google My Business pages. For products, we analyzed the customer reviews on whichever online retailer primarily hosts the product.