How do I Choose the Best Gutter Design?

Jessica Reed
Jessica Reed
Gutter guards help prevent gutters from becoming clogged with debris, including leaves.
Gutter guards help prevent gutters from becoming clogged with debris, including leaves.

When choosing the best gutter design for a home, the owner should consider what type of weather the gutter needs to stand up against, how much she wants to spend on the gutter, and how much time she has for maintenance. Each gutter material and type has its advantages and disadvantages, but knowing what she wants from a gutter will help the homeowner make the best decision for her particular home. The goals every gutter should accomplish, regardless of type or material, are to direct water flow away from the edges of the house, keep leaves and other materials from building up inside, and not require excessive maintenance to keep clean and working.

After choosing a budget range, a homeowner should look at how much debris typically builds up in the gutter and whether or not the gutters are exposed to intense weather on a regular basis. For these situations, stronger materials and gutter guards may help in keeping gutters working and clean. A homeowner should also consider whether the gutters are a long-time investment that needs a more expansive and durable material or a short-term investment where a cheaper material will work.

The most common gutter materials include vinyl or metals such as aluminum, steel, and copper. Vinyl and aluminum are both cheap options and are lightweight for easy installation. Typically, vinyl is considered lower maintenance than aluminum, but both may require occasional repairs.

Copper and steel provide strong materials that are durable, long-lasting, and will rarely need to be repaired, if at all. Copper does begin to change color over the years while steel does not. Steel is usually considered the strongest, low-maintenance option but is also the most expensive. Copper may cost less than steel but is still much more expensive than vinyl or aluminum. When choosing a gutter design, the buyer should pick a stronger material when living in storm-prone areas and choose steel over copper in wet areas, as the water will speed up the copper discoloration.

Once the homeowner has made a choice about the material for her gutters, she should consider whether she wants seamless or sectional gutters. Seamless gutters are less likely to clog or leak and usually require less maintenance than sectional gutters. They can cost more, however, and need a professional to install them. Sectional gutters are much easier to install and often cheaper, though they may develop leaks or clogs over time.

Shape is also a consideration. Round gutters can promote water flow and are harder to clog. The square or rectangular shape of traditional gutters may provide more support but have a tendency to collect debris. Rectangular gutters are the best candidates for adding on extras such as gutter covers for protection as part of the gutter design.

Finally, when making a final decision on her home's gutter design, the homeowner should consider whether she wants to add some sort of covering to her gutters. Gutter coverings block debris from falling into the gutters, preventing clogs and thus lowering the amount of maintenance a homeowner must do. Smaller holes block out more debris, though thin or small items can still fall through the cracks. The openings on gutter covers range from slits to mesh coverings and the owner should choose based on the size and shape of the debris she frequently has trouble with.

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    • Gutter guards help prevent gutters from becoming clogged with debris, including leaves.
      By: rekemp
      Gutter guards help prevent gutters from becoming clogged with debris, including leaves.