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Rain gutters serve a distinct purpose, collecting water runoff from your roof and sending it far from your home. You can choose a gutter profile that enhances your home’s design. Modern houses look great with box- or K-style gutters that match your trim. More traditional homes might look better with decorative half- or quarter-round gutters.
Whichever style you choose, you’ll want to find a reliable contractor to install, and if you’re going the custom route, manufacture the gutters for you properly. Visit Spout Gutter Pros to gather free quotes from licensed, insured gutter contractors in your area in just minutes!
Rain Gutter Styles
Did you know that the first rain gutters were used on buildings as early as 3000 B.C.? Fashioned out of wood, brick, or stone, they were utilized to move water away from buildings, keeping the walls dry and prolonging the structure’s longevity. The ancient Romans were the first to create entire systems designed to divert water away from not only buildings but streets as well.
Today, practically every home has a rain gutter system of some variety which collects water run-off from roofs and sends it to a drainage system elsewhere. And just as homes come in every design imaginable, so too do rain gutters. There are styles and colors to match every home, and the gutters come in all kinds of materials, ranging from inexpensive vinyl and aluminum to pricier coated steel and copper. Following, Spout Gutter Pros will take a closer look at the many profiles that are available for you to choose from, one of which will surely meet your budget parameters and design needs.
Box-style gutters look very much like K-style gutters in appearance but are built into the architecture of the house. They are often not regarded as gutter systems as they are a part of the cornice, hidden by trim, but they function exactly the same as more conventional gutter systems. Box gutters are considered to be more of a modern look and are perfect for homeowners who like a sleek, clean appearance. They are seamless, are manufactured from coated metals, and come in many different colors.
European gutters are a form of half-round gutter that have the bead on the outside and are hung with visible half-round hangers. These are classic in style and give a home a genteel, elegant appeal. European gutters are typically manufactured from strong metals such as steel and copper and are useful in areas that have rough weather or varying temperatures as they hold up well. Homeowners like half-rounds because they are wide open and less likely to generate clogs from clumped-up leaves or animal nests. The pipes that attach to the downspouts are full rounds that are wide and let water flow down easily.
Some homes do not have fascia—the long, straight board that runs along the lower edge of the roof which normally carries guttering—so they opt for fascia gutters. When installed, fascia gutters act both as fascia and as gutters, creating a smooth-looking roofline that whisks water away. Also known as “eaves” gutters, fascia gutters are attached directly to the roof rafters rather than the fascia board. They provide a clean, polished look and because of how they’re installed, can normally withstand rough weather well. The downside to these types of gutters is that because they’re embedded so deeply, they can be hard to clean. Regular maintenance is key to keeping fascia gutters functioning well for the long haul.
Flat Face/Straight Face
If you have a clean, modern home and want gutters that don’t look like gutters, then flat face, or straight face, gutters might be the perfect choice for you. Also known as “invisible” gutters, these are flat (or straight) on the front side and blend in seamlessly along the roofline. Available for both residential and commercial buildings, flat face gutters are seamless, made out of either steel or copper, and come in a variety of color choices to match your home.
K-style gutters are the most popular gutters available today. They are said to derive their name from the shape you see when viewing them from the side, but they’re not really K-shaped. In reality, the front of these gutters are usually curved and the bottom flat. The overall effect is closer to the look of crown molding you’d see on ceilings in your home. They are generally sold in 5”-6’ widths and are installed with rectangular downspout pipes.
K-style gutters are popular for many reasons. First, they are very attractive and work well on all home styles. Second, with their flat bottom and wide aperture, they hold a lot more water than their round counterparts of the same diameter. And because of their unique shape, they are less likely to dent with impact or sag when they become overly full of debris or ice.
Because they’re so common, K-style gutters come either in pre-fab sections that can be joined together, or seamless—the portable roll-forming machines have the design pre-programmed and ready to go. On the downside, the sharper angles, or seams where the sections are joined, can create snags where debris can get caught and develop clogs. The angles also make the K-style gutters harder to clean.
Half-round gutters date back to the late 1800s. They feature a semicircular trough with a curved lip in the front. They fit well and tend to look great on homes that have a European flair, like Spanish tile roofs or brick walls. They typically come in 5’’ or 6” widths and are effective at catching water. They are usually paired with round downspouts that help drain the water away from your home quickly and efficiently. Half-rounds are most often manufactured in a seamless profile out of aluminum or copper in a variety of colors. They are attached to the fascia and, unlike other systems, are meant to be seen rather than blend into the overall architecture. If you would rather they don’t stand out, they can always be painted to match your home’s color scheme.
V-Shaped, or Yankee gutters, are interesting as they are built right onto the slope of your roof. Also known as Philadelphia gutters, pole gutters, flush gutters, and standing gutters, these gutters consist of a V- or U-shaped wooden trough lined with metal—usually copper or coated steel—that’s affixed directly onto the roof and directs water away from the house.
Yankee gutters have been around since the 18th century and can be very simple in design, or more ornate. They look great with more historic homes and function well as long as they’re properly maintained. Guards and screens don’t work with these gutters, so you’ll have to keep an eye on the amount of debris that’s gathering in both the gutters and the downspouts. But the construction allows a good flow of water and with the durable metal lining, these gutters can last up to a century.
Victorian /Old Gothic (OG)
Victorian, or “Old Gothic” (OG) gutters as they are also commonly called, are very distinctive and have a decorative profile that looks terrific on traditional homes such as Victorians. They emulate the style of 19th-century cast-iron gutters with a flat open “V” design rather than a “U.” They are most often found on historic buildings that would have originally had this type of gutter in a cast-iron form, but they can work well on many types of properties. Victorian gutters come in both 5” and 6” widths but are fairly shallow so they are not ideal for heavy water flow. They will be fine for smaller homes, however. One other consideration is that they are not common, so you will have to have them custom-made for your home which can add to the cost.
Rain Gutter Sizes
The most common sizes for rain gutters are 5” and 6”, although they’re available as small as 4” and as large as 7”. Downspouts are commonly 3” or 4” in diameter. These sizes are usually enough to handle the amount of rain that falls on homes in most parts of the country. But houses located in areas prone to more inclement weather, or that have steeper roofs, may need wider gutters and downspouts to keep rainwater from overflowing. To determine what size gutters you’ll need, you’ll need to take several factors into consideration.
First, look up the maximum rainfall your area generally experiences in inches per hour. The higher the number, the larger your gutters will have to be to handle storms and heavy precipitation. Then, take a look at your roof. Is it flat or sloped? The steeper it is, the more rain can roll down and collect in your gutters. You can roughly calculate the number of gallons of water that can slough off a roof in a storm by counting the number of shingles along the roofline. Then, look at your downspouts. They’re more important than gutter size in carrying water away. When in doubt, go larger.
Choosing rain gutters for your home can be confusing and time-consuming. What style will look best with my home? Which requires the least maintenance? Get design suggestions and free quotes from licensed gutter contractors in your area from Spout Gutter Pros.