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Rain gutters may not seem like an important component of your home, but they are, in fact, one of the most crucial if you live in an area that’s prone to lots of rain, sleet, and snow. Gutters are your number one line of defense against water damage to your house. But if they’re installed incorrectly, rain gutters can cause more trouble than they prevent.
If you’re an experienced do-it-yourselfer, you might think you can handle the job over a weekend. But, because it’s so vital that gutters be correctly sloped, sealed, and affixed, your best course of action is to hire a reliable, licensed contractor to do the job properly. While it might seem overwhelming to find someone you can trust, Spout Gutter Pros is here to help! Gather free quotes from reliable, experienced gutter contractors near you. Click now for estimates from licensed, insured rain gutter installers today!
Benefits of Installing or Replacing Gutters
Rain gutters play an integral role in keeping your home dry, safe, and well-maintained. More than just collecting rainwater and sending it elsewhere, rain gutters perform plenty of functions that all serve to prevent costly damage. Making sure your gutters are functioning and well-maintained is one of the surest ways to protect your home’s value over the years.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of installing or replacing gutters on your house:
- Protect home’s foundation: Rain gutters work by catching excess water from heavy rains or melting snow and diverting the water into rain barrels or drainage systems. If you don’t have gutters, or they’re not functioning as they should, that extra water will pool around the bottom of your house, seeping into the foundation. Once your foundation is soaked, mold and mildew will begin to form, sending harmful bacteria into your home, damaging your drywall and your health.
- Protects roof: Most gutters are hung directly below a home’s roofline. If the gutters are clogged, the standing water can soak the shingles, causing damage to the eaves. It can also rot the wooden fascia boards the gutters are affixed to, allowing unwanted moisture to enter your home and weakening the gutters’ fastenings.
- Prevent erosion: Excess water spilling over from the roof or from poorly functioning gutters can lead to heavy gushes of water washing the soil away from the foundation of your home. This can hurt your landscaping and cause your foundation to weaken. The first step is to make sure your gutters are clean and free of blockages. Then you will need to check the slope to ensure that water is being diverted the right way. Installing splash blocks at the end of the downspouts can help to better direct the water, as can creating a flow path out of stones at the splash blocks.
- Protect landscaping: You spend a lot of time and money on creating attractive landscaping that increases your home’s curb appeal. But one heavy downpour can wash that all away or rot out the plants if your gutters are faulty. Again, making sure the gutters are properly flowing and diverting the water away will prevent soil erosion and protect your grass and plants.
- Prevent basement flooding: Water that pools along your foundation can seep through cracks in the walls and flood your basement. A wet basement has little to no ventilation and will become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, leading to toxic conditions in your home. Making sure that your downspouts and splash blocks are directing water away from the foundation will help to prevent basement flooding.
- Protect home’s exterior: Poorly hung or backed up gutters will overflow during heavy rainstorms, resulting in tons of water flowing down your walls. Over time, the water will get under the paint, causing it to bubble, flake, and peel. It can also cause algae to grow, resulting in unsightly black stains streaking down your home’s exterior. Maintaining your gutters will prevent having to fix this extensive damage to your walls.
- Prevent mold and mildew growth: We’ve all heard of black mold that forms in water-damaged buildings. Mold and mildew are well-documented as causing serious health problems when people are exposed for extended periods of time. A good rain gutter system can prevent water from seeping into drywall and causing toxic mold to develop.
- Prevent damage to/cracking of sidewalks, driveways, patios: Pooling water can also ooze under poured concrete, seeping into cracks and weakening the structure. Over time, this leads to cracking of sidewalks, driveways, and even back patio areas which can cause the cement to buckle and break. This is dangerous to visitors and pedestrians and could lead to lawsuits if they happen to trip on broken pieces and fall.
- Keep people dry coming or going from the house: Rain gutters collect the rain and direct it down drains instead of flying over the edge of your house. This helps to keep people walking by during a rainstorm from getting soaked by sheets of water pouring off your roof.
- Reduce pests and insects: Mosquitos, termites, and other insects love to hang out and breed in standing water. If your gutters are not working as they should, or are clogged, you’ll be left with puddles of gutter water after a rainstorm that provides the perfect environment for unwanted pests. You can ensure that yours isn’t “that house” in the neighborhood by keeping your gutters clean and well-maintained.
- Improve home’s appearance: There’s nothing more unsightly than sagging or broken gutters on a home’s exterior. Not only will they not provide the function for which they’re intended, they just look terrible. Replacing warped old gutters is a quick fix to improving your home’s curb appeal quickly.
Can You Install Gutters Yourself?
The internet is full of videos showcasing how easy it is to install new gutter systems on your home, but the truth is, it’s actually very hard to do yourself. Even if you go with the most lightweight, sectional gutters, you will have to lift and hang gutters around your entire roofline which can be back-breaking work. And the system has to be put together and hung precisely or it will not work, potentially causing your house more harm than good.
You are better off hiring a gutter contractor to do the work for you. They will be able to advise which material is ideal for the style of your home and the weather conditions in your area. Then, they’ll work with you and your budget to determine which way to go; with a sectional system or seamless. Sectional systems require precise measuring of the individual pieces to fit snugly under the roofline. The sections also need to be joined professionally at the seams or they may begin leaking as the roofing cement wears away or clogs cause backups and holes.
Seamless systems are cut into long, continuous sections that cover each side of the home. They are typically made from heavier metals as well. They are harder to handle and weigh more, making it difficult for one (or even two) DIYers to lift and hang. While they are prized for their ability to last a long time, they can develop leaks at the corners where they meet the downspout if they’re not soldered correctly.
Then there’s the slope. A contractor will mark the highest point of the gutter run on the fascia 1¼ inches below the flashing. Then they’ll mark the lowest end of the gutter run at the downspout, measuring a slope that goes down about ½ inch for every 10 feet of run. This is a task that’s not the easiest for lay people. If the slope isn’t measured accurately, the gutters won’t be able to do their job adequately and water will either build up or run over the edge of the gutters.
Another consideration is the hangers. Different materials and profiles require different types of hangers. A contractor will know which works best for the system you’ve chosen and how best to affix them. If the hangers aren’t spaced and screwed in correctly, the gutters could come loose and sag or fall away from the home.
What Does it Cost to Install Rain Gutters?
Most companies charge per linear foot for gutter installation or replacement, so your home’s size will affect the price of materials and labor. The larger the house, the more linear feet of gutter is required, increasing the price. And if you have more than one story, you’re likely to pay more for added safety equipment and insurance costs.
The material you choose for your gutters and the style are the biggest factors in determining the installation cost of rain gutters. Sectional gutters tend to be more affordable than seamless which are custom-crafted for you at your home.
Typical prices for materials are as follows:
- Aluminum is popular and affordable at about $4-$7 per linear foot.
- Copper is durable but expensive at $15-$30 per foot.
- Stainless steel lasts a long time and costs about $9-$20 per foot.
- Vinyl is the most affordable, but not the most durable, at $3-$5 per foot
Factors That Affect the Cost of Installing Gutters
Once you’ve made the decision to install a new rain gutter system, it’s time to assess your budget. Many factors go into the pricing of new gutter installations—some of which you may not have taken into account. Spout Gutter Pros outlines just a few of the factors that can influence the overall cost of a gutter system.
- New install vs. replacement: If your gutters are falling apart and leaking, you will probably be looking at replacing the entire system rather than repairing sections. If so, you’ll want to factor in the cost of removing the old gutters and disposing of them in an ecologically sound manner.
- Roof height, slope, pitch: The taller your roof, or more angular, the more your gutter installation is likely to cost. Roofs with an extreme slope or pitch are harder to work with, especially if they’re on a two-story house. Not only will the installation team need extra safety equipment, but the job will also require more insurance and may take longer, depending on the degree of difficulty, resulting in higher labor costs.
- How much guttering: The larger your home, the more guttering will be needed—it’s simple math. Gutter materials are sold by the linear foot and you’ll require more if you have a large home.
- Other components: Besides the gutters themselves, installing a gutter system requires additional components such as gutter hangers, downspout extensions, splash blocks, and drains. These items will be included in the overall price so, again, the larger the job, the more these expenses will add up.
- Adding a leaf guard system: Adding a leaf guard system to your new gutters can help to prevent a lot of maintenance. Many people choose to incur that expense up front to save time and money over the years.
What to Know Before Installing or Replacing Your Gutters
Before installing or replacing your gutters it’s helpful to do some research. Gutters come in many materials, so you’ll want to determine which is ideal for your climate. In addition, you should check out the many styles that are available and decide which is the best match for your home.
Types of Gutter Materials Commonly Used
With so many gutter materials available, it can be hard to decide which is best for your home. If you’re getting ready to make the big decision about which type of gutters to purchase, consider the following:
- What is the rainfall like where you live?
- How much do your gutters need to handle?
- What’s your budget like?
- What style is your home?
- Do you live in a historic home?
Following is a top-level guide to gutter materials and some of their pros and cons.
Vinyl gutters are one of the most common options in the U.S. Not only are they affordable, but they also come in a wide range of colors and profiles. The downside to vinyl is that it is not as durable as metal. It tends to dry out in extreme heat or cold and can easily crack, requiring frequent repairs. In addition, vinyl gutters are usually sold in 10-foot sections that have to be caulked together. That caulking can become brittle and flake off, leading to leaks around the joints. Because of this, vinyl gutters usually need to be replaced more often than other materials.
Aluminum is another very popular gutter option. The material is very lightweight, yet strong. It is resistant to corrosion and completely weatherproof. Aluminum does not rust and holds up well in cold weather. You can purchase aluminum gutters in either sectional or seamless styles. In addition, they can be painted to match any color home, making them a versatile choice. The downside to aluminum gutters is that they are not as strong as something like copper, and they can be dented by falling debris. But all in all, they are usually a good choice.
Galvanized steel gutters are made of steel that’s coated with a layer of zinc. The coating protects the steel from snow and ice and holds up well in most environments. Galvanized steel is also dent-resistant and shows less damage than other materials. It is lightweight and inexpensive but should be installed by a professional. The steel has a tendency to rust if scratched, leaving the metal underneath exposed. In addition, the metal does expand and contract in heat and cold, so it can start to change shape, leading to sagging over time.
Next to copper, stainless steel gutters are some of the sturdiest on the market. They are treated with a zinc layer that not only protects the metal but gives it a distinctive high-gloss shine. With regular cleaning and polishing, these gutters will retain their strength and good looks for decades. One thing to watch with stainless steel is that the zinc layer doesn’t get scratched or the steel can rust. Stainless steel is much more expensive than galvanized steel, but if you have the budget, it’s an investment worth making.
Copper gutters are one of the highest-quality types you can buy. They are super strong and rust-resistant. They don’t dent and they’re available in both sectional and seamless varieties. They look beautiful and are the perfect addition to period homes. The downside to copper is that it is a very heavy material and it’s very expensive, making installation much costlier than other materials. But the good news is, if you clean and maintain your copper gutters properly, they’ll last a lifetime.
Consider Seamless vs. Regular Gutters
Rain gutters come in two main types: sectional and seamless. Sectional gutters are available in 10ft–20ft sections and connect to each other to create an entire gutter system. They are made from vinyl, aluminum, stainless steel, or copper. Sectional gutters are popular because they are affordable and can be cut to fit any size house. But they have their drawbacks. They are only as strong as the materials used to seal the joints where the sections meet. Over time, they can rust at the seams, leading to leaks, or sag when filled with heavy leaves or ice.
Seamless gutters are often considered a better choice as they are manufactured onsite in long, continuous gutter “runs” that are cut from one piece of metal. They are usually stronger and more dependable than sectional gutters because they don’t have seams that can become weakened over time. Homeowners like them because they tend to be leak-proof and won’t rust. They also come in a wide variety of colors so you can match the color of your roof or trim.
The biggest consideration when deciding between sectional and seamless is durability. The material you choose plays the biggest role in the lifespan of your gutters. Vinyl is used most often in sectional systems because it’s lightweight and versatile. Galvanized steel is also popular for sectional systems as it can withstand the harshest weather. People typically like aluminum or copper when going with seamless gutters due to the strength and longevity of the materials.
Common Styles of Gutters
Whether you’re building a new home or replacing an old gutter system, you’ll soon realize you have a very important decision to make as to what style of rain gutter to install. Rain gutters play an integral role in the overall aesthetics of your home, so the style you choose can make a big difference. Next, we’ll break down some of the pros and cons of the most popular styles.
U-shape, or half-round, gutters are traditional gutter shapes that have been around since the Colonial days. They are rounded on the bottom and open on the top as if you cut a tube in half. They hold less water than other styles but offer a time-honored look that is the perfect complement to an older style home. While the U-shape is consistent, you have many choices as to the front of the gutter including single-bead, double-bead, or even reverse-bead styles.
K-style gutters are widely used in construction today due to their elegant, decorative look. Rather than actually looking like a K, they are named K-style because they are 11th of the 12 most popular styles of gutters (labeled A-L). They have a flat back that is screwed directly to the fascia, a flat bottom, and a curved front that looks like crown molding. The square shape allows a lot of water to pass through, making them perfect for rainy locales.
Fascia gutters are custom-built seamless gutters that are affixed directly to a home’s fascia. If there is no fascia, they can be attached to the ends of the rafters, performing the same function as a fascia board. The back is flat, with a shallow flat bottom and a beaded front that angles out. Because they’re installed flush with the roofline, they have a sleek appearance, but can be hard to clean.
Victorian Ogee (or “Old Gothic”) gutters are designed to replicate the look of Victorian cast-iron gutters. They are more traditional in appearance and go well with period homes. These typically have more of an open “V” shape with an angled back and a subtly curved front. They come pre-drilled on the back for affixing directly to the fascia board. Because they are more of a specific look, they are less common so you can either choose from limited available sizes or have a set of custom gutters fabricated exclusively for your home.
V-shaped gutters are essentially pieces of wood that are nailed to the slope of the roof and then lined with metal. These have been in use for centuries and are usually found on period homes. They often had a cornice that became part of the overall design of the house. Today, you’ll most likely be replacing these as a historic feature rather than choosing to install them on a new home.
European seamless gutters are a wider form of half-rounds that have a bead on the front that turns outward. They are considered elegant, giving any house an aesthetically pleasing allure. They are usually found in copper, steel or zinc-coated aluminum and can handle even the toughest weather. They affix to the roofline with half-round hangers and then attach to round downpipes. The wider gutter, combined with the round pipes, allows lots of water to flow easily, making them very efficient.
How to Install New Gutters – Gutter Installation Process
So, you’ve decided it’s time for a new rain gutter system. You’ve spent time looking at all of the DIY gutter installation websites and decided it’s a complicated job, best left to the professionals. But where do you start? Spout Gutter Pros takes you through the process of how gutter companies install or replace gutters, step by step.
- Set a budget: The very first thing you’ll need to do is establish a project budget. Rain gutter installation costs can vary quite a bit depending on the materials you pick, the extra components you’ll need (besides the gutters themselves), and any add-ons you might want to include, such as gutter guards.
- Choose the material: The materials you choose for your gutter system are vitally important. They will dictate how well they hold up in your climate, how much maintenance will be required, and how much the overall project will cost. Gutters made of vinyl or aluminum are by far the most popular and cost-effective systems on the market but don’t necessarily last a long time. Hardier metals, like steel or copper, will be more durable but will cost considerably more.
- Select the style: If your home is modern, you’ll have many gutter varieties to choose from. You’ll be able to decide between box gutters, K-style, U-shape, fascia gutters and more—all of which come in many different materials and colors. If you have a historic/period home, or one that’s more traditional in design, you’ll want to match the style and your choices may be more limited. Then you’ll be looking at profiles such as Victorian Ogee, V-shaped or U-shaped Euro-gutters.
- Obtain quotes: Every gutter contractor has their own rates for installation. Beyond material costs, there are labor costs that will be dictated by the material you choose, the size and height of your home, and the difficulty of the job. It’s vitally important to get quotes from multiple contractors before you start, to compare rates. Spout Gutter Pros can help you get quotes from any number of licensed contractors in your area in just minutes—all it takes is one click and you’ll have the information you need to make an informed decision.
- Measuring & inspecting: Once you’ve chosen your contractor, they’ll come out and begin by inspecting your roofline. They’ll check your soffit or fascia for signs of rot and notate any repairs that will need to be made. They’ll measure the entire area where the gutters will be installed and create a plan, outlining the slope of the gutters, where hangers and downspouts will go, and any additional measures that might need to be taken to support the material you’ve chosen.
- Old gutter removal: Next, they’ll remove any existing gutters and downspouts. They’ll take the old materials away to where they can be disposed of responsibly.
- Gutter fabrication: After making any necessary repairs to the fascia which will be supporting the gutter system, the contractor will get back up on the ladder and mark the slope line in chalk, as well as the hanger locations. They will then install the hangers. Next, they’ll begin cutting the gutter sections to size (if you’ve chosen sectional) or fabricating the runs (if you’ve gone with seamless). They will affix end caps to the top end of the gutter run and cut holes in the low end for downspout outlets.
- Hanging the gutters: Now it’s time to hang the gutters. Their crews will pick up the sections and hang them in the brackets, angling them until they snap in properly. Then they’ll secure the gutters to the brackets by screw-mounting them through the front of the gutter. They will cover the joints between sections, or where the seamless runs meet at the corners, either with a strip miter of aluminum flashing, roof cement, or soldering (in the case of copper or steel).
- Installing the downspouts: Finally, they’ll secure the downspout outlet to the gutter with screws. They’ll attach a downspout elbow to the outlet tube to carry the water to the base of the house. Then, as a final step, they’ll add the splash block to help divert the water away from the home.
Your gutters are old and leaking and it’s time to replace them, but what kind should you buy? Get all the advice you need from licensed, local gutter professionals—request free quotes today with Spout Gutter Pros.