Learn about all the different types of gutters you can choose for your home. Gutters are a very important home feature that helps protect your home from water damage. The gutters and features you choose can help protect your home from water damage.
Building a house requires a lot of decisions including what types of gutters to install. If replacing gutters, you also need to consider your options. While gutters are popular, there are alternatives to gutters. While not something most people think about regarding their home, gutters serve a very important purpose. You notice that when they start flooding. It’s either time to clean them (a big, unpleasant job) or replace them if they’re malfunctioning.
This article sets out the many types of gutters you can choose from for your house. We break down the classifications by shape, material, construction, size, colors and features. We also have a detailed article setting out several charts and diagrams of gutter systems and parts here.
Table of Contents
- Overview Gutter Diagram
- I. Shape
- II. Material
- III. Construction
- IV. Sizes
- V. Colors
- VI. Guards
- VII. Frequently Asked Questions
- Video: How to Install a Gutter on Your House
Overview Gutter Diagram
Here’s a general overview gutter chart showing 24 gutter shapes.
A. K-Style Gutters
Source: Home Depot
K-style gutters are the most popular type of gutter used nowadays, and if you buy a home it will probably have this type of gutter on it. It’s a common misconception that they are named after their shape, but they are not shaped like a “K”. Instead, their name is derived from a national association that lists it as option “K” in the available and common types of gutters. They are very popular because of their appearance and how decorative they are. These gutters have a much curvier profile than other types of gutters, and homeowners generally love the way they look. The look is often considered to closely mimic the appearance of crown molding, which is popular for homeowners to install around their ceilings in their homes. They can hold more rainwater than rounded gutters are able to, making them an ideal choice if you live somewhere where it rains a lot. In addition, they come in a number of sizes and materials, and there are many roofers who are able to make them on-demand at a site to fit perfectly on the home. This means there will be a seamless end product that won’t leak very easily. Also, because of the flat back on the k-style gutters, they can be screwed flush against the fascia of the home, creating a seamless look.
B. Victorian Ogee
“Old Gothic” gutters as they are also commonly called, are very distinctive and have a decorative profile that looks great on certain homes. This style is based off of cast-iron gutters that would have been very popular during the 19th century, and it has a traditional yet stylish look that can look great. This type of gutter is best suited for more traditional homes that are Victorian or period homes, but with the right styling of your home it can look great on most properties. They are shallow gutters, which means they can’t handle all of the water flow that other gutters can, and so they work well on much smaller homes. In addition, you will need to have these gutters custom made, as they will not be something you can simply buy off the shelf in a big box store.
Most commonly installed on homes that do not have fascia boards already in place, these gutters perform double duty by acting like both a gutter as well as a fascia board. They will hide the edges of the rafter tails so you can’t see them when looking at your home. This creates a smooth line along your home and also prevents water damage or animals from trying to enter your house through the rafter tails. These gutters are not commonly used if you do have fascia installed on your home, but they are a great option for those homeowners who have not yet taken that step.
D. Half-Round Gutters
Source: Home Depot
If you are in the market for gutters that will add a certain appeal to your home without being overly flashy, you will want to look into half-round gutters instead of k-style gutters. These are generally a bit more traditional in their appearance and will work perfectly on homes that are a specific architectural style. Even once you choose to install half-round gutters, you will still have a few decisions to make. They are available in a number of different styles, including double-bead, single-bead, and reverse bead style. These differences will not affect how well the gutter performs or how difficult it is to install on your home, but are all a matter of personal preference as to the appearance. They are also available in a number of different materials, making it easy for each homeowner to perfectly customize their gutters and get ones that match their home, complement their style, and add plenty of curb appeal. They can be easily cut to match the length of your home, and even have options for hidden hangers so that people will not see how they are attached to your home.
E. European Gutters
These gutters are a type of half-round gutters and have the bead on the outside of the gutter where it is more visible. In addition, they are attached to the home with a visible half-round hanger. Many people choose these style gutters because they are very aesthetically pleasing and will add a lot of class to your home. This is especially true when you choose copper European gutters, which will look as great the day that they were installed when they are shiny and new to when they have begun to age and get their distinctive patina. This is a great gutter choice if you live in an area that is prone to temperature swings or severe storms that will batter your gutters. These gutters are generally made from stronger materials and will be able to better hold up in wild weather without being damaged or ripped from your home. The downpipes that are fastened to these gutters will be full-round, which means they will be wider, allowing more water to flow through them quickly without being clogged. This is great for the very wet and rainy days that these gutters perform so well in. Animals and birds are less likely to build homes in these gutters, as these creatures prefer the angles that are seen with the k-style gutter, which will give them a little protection. These gutters are not designed to work well with gutter guard systems, but you won’t have to worry about keeping out creatures, and any leaves or sticks will quickly wash down your large pipes and away from your home.
Source: Home Depot
This is probably the most common type of gutter that is currently available, and for good reason as they are incredibly lightweight and easy to install. In addition, when you choose aluminum gutters, you won’t have to worry about any corrosion affecting the appearance of your gutter and you will be able to easily match the color of your gutters to the rest of your external color scheme. This means they are easy for a professional to install, can usually be created and cut right at your home, and you will be able to choose the color you want. In addition, they usually cost a lot less than some of the other alternatives, so it’s easy to see why they are so popular.
Source: Home Depot
These gutters are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts, but people don’t install them on their homes to save money. As long as your new copper gutters are installed correctly, you will not have to worry about mildew or mold growing on them, and you also won’t ever have to worry about painting them. They will just get more beautiful as time goes by and will add to the curb appeal of your home. Unfortunately, they won’t last much longer, if any, than aluminum gutters, and this short life span combined with the increased price makes some homeowners wary of installing them. The typical 16 oz copper option is not very much stronger than aluminum, meaning they can be easily damaged by a falling tree or large limb.
C. Galvanized Steel
These gutters are simply steel that has been covered with a thin layer of zinc to protect the steel. While these gutters are amazingly strong, they will also rust if they become damaged. This means that homeowners who opt for steel gutters have to be willing to quickly complete any necessary repair work once the gutters have been dented or scratched, or they will have to put up with damaged and rusty gutters. It’s imperative that only experts install galvanized steel gutters, as if they are not correctly installed, there may not be enough drainage in the gutter. This means you will have standing water next to your home. Once you install galvanized steel gutters on your home, it’s imperative that you clean them out regularly to remove any clogs that are forming and keep away any rust.
Another steel option, this is coated with a combination of both aluminum and zinc, making it an incredibly strong metal gutter that can stand up against damage and rust. Made by dipping steel into liquid zinc and aluminum, this is a specialty gutter that you will have to work with an expert to get. It’s important to take into consideration where you live before you opt for this type of gutter, as they can greatly outlast galvanized steel depending on your location. In some places, they will even last nine times longer than galvanized steel.
While zinc gutters are a much bigger investment than aluminum gutters are, they will usually last twice as long, making them a great option if you are going to be living in your home for a long period of time. They are made from zinc with small amounts of both titanium and copper and are left unpainted. Over time, these gutters will develop a protected coating or patina similar to copper gutters that will serve to protect them from the elements.
Source: Home Depot
Compared to aluminum gutters, vinyl gutters are much less expensive. They are made of a strong plastic that will protect them from being dented or bent and will never corrode. This is important if you live in an area with regular heavy storms, but do not want to have to be constantly cleaning out your gutters each time it rains. Since they are so lightweight, they are easy to both cut and install, so you can have them installed on your home quickly if you are in an emergency or a big rush. Since these gutters aren’t painted and are actually the same color all of the way through the plastic, if they ever get scratched by a tree branch or a ladder leaning up against them, you won’t have to worry about being able to see it from the ground. You do have to be a little careful when buying vinyl gutters, as you want to make sure you are not buying ones that have been cheaply constructed. Vinyl gutters that are thinner will sag with age and time and can actually grow brittle and shatter. This is something you will want to avoid, especially if you live in a particularly cold area, as cold is detrimental to vinyl. It’s generally a good idea to talk to your roofer about getting thicker vinyl gutters so they will last longer. You’ll also love how quickly they snap together and can be installed, but it’s still a good idea to hire a professional to do the work so you don’t have to worry about any leaks.
Source: Home Depot
These gutters are ones that have been pieced together from different lengths of gutters and then trimmed down to fit perfectly on your home. The lengths are attached with connectors and can be made to fit any home, no matter how many corners or how long the sides of the house are. They are not custom made and can easily be cut and installed right on the property with a hacksaw or other cutting device. While these gutters are ridiculously easy and quick to install, they do come with a few drawbacks. Each place where you have used a connector, you will be at risk of leaking. This means water can pour down the sides of your home instead of away from it, possibly causing mold or mildew. This is a risk many homeowners are willing to take, as sectional gutters are very affordable, and you can help mitigate the chance of leaks when you take time to get on a ladder and clean out your gutters on a regular basis.
Made from just one piece of material instead of being pieced together in sections, seamless gutters only have joints at downspouts and in corners, ensuring that they are very sturdy and won’t accidentally spring a leak in a hard storm. Since they are generally made from very strong materials, you will enjoy a durable and lightweight gutter that was made to last. Unfortunately, these gutters are more expensive than sectional ones, but increased peace of mind is worth it to homeowners who opt for these gutters. You will have to call in an expert roofer to install seamless gutters on your home as they are always going to be custom made so they can perfectly fit your home, and they require special equipment to make, cut, and install them. You will have a number of color options to choose from, so you can be sure to pick the most attractive gutters for your home.
There are two main common sizes of gutters, and one of them is 5-inch. This is most common in the K-style gutters. For most homes, this will be a large enough gutter to handle the amount of water washing off of the roof, but if you live in a particularly rainy area, you will want to opt for wider downspouts to be installed with your new gutters. This will help your gutter system get the rain away from your home quickly.
Source: Home Depot
Common in half-round gutters, the 6-inch isn’t the largest size gutter available, but for most homes it does the job. If you are worried you will need a larger gutter than the standard 6-inch, it’s important to talk to your roofer about your maximum rainfall intensity, the pitch of your roof, and the drainage area square footage. With this information, your roofer will be able to double-check that a 6-inch gutter will be big enough for your home and that you won’t be at risk of any water damage. You do not want to go too large without a good reason, as it can begin to affect the appearance of your home.
Source: Home Depot
Neutral color gutters are almost always a great choice as they won’t clash with the appearance of your home or stand out too much. It’s a good idea to think about the color of your garage and then match the gutters to that color. Since your gutters are often visible from the road, choosing a white, tan, gray, or brown color that will blend in with your home while still outlining it and giving it sharp lines is a very good idea.
Source: Home Depot
Depending on your personality and where you live – as some homeowners associations will not allow bright and bold gutter colors – you may choose for a color that will stand out from the rest of your property. Kelly green, bright blue, and even pink are all possible and can look great on your home. It’s important that you consider the style of your house, what kind of exterior decorating you have done, and the landscaping around your home before you commit to bright gutters. Done correctly and when installed professionally, bright gutters can add a lot of architectural interest to your home and make it stand out from others.
You can keep from constantly having to clean out your gutters when you install gutter guards, but choosing the right kind can be tricky. The most common type are screen guards that are available in a number of sizes and materials and work well to keep out large items such as leaves. Unfortunately, this will allow smaller debris to enter, and homeowners have to remove the screens to then clean out the gutters. They also get clogged easily when too much debris rests on top of the screens. They are very easy to install, however, and can be either dropped in your gutter or gently slid up and underneath your shingles.
B. Fine Mesh
These are similar to screen guards, but do a great job at keeping out even small debris. Only tiny debris like shingle grit will be able to block these screen, so while they do need a little regular cleaning, it won’t be as intensive as it will with screen guards. You can slide them under the shingles like screen guards, or screw them into the fascia, creating a stronger gutter and helping it hold up to major weather problems. Look for fine mesh guards that are made from stainless steel so they won’t be easily damaged.
C. Surface Tension
These guards rely on surface tension to help water drip directly into your gutters while all debris slides off and away from the home. Large items such as leaves and sticks generally follow this process, while smaller debris will sometimes get into your gutter, but be washed away. It’s imperative that the guard is installed carefully so it matches the angle of the roof. These guards are much easier to see than the other options, so homeowners who are very worried about aesthetics will generally pass them by. Heavy storms can cause water to shoot out from the house, but they work perfectly in normal rainstorms.
D. Foam Wedges
Also popular are foam wedges that you install by placing them into your gutter. They are triangular and will allow water to run through them and into the gutter while still blocking any debris from reaching the actual gutter. They have the added bonus of keeping mosquitos from being able to breed in any standing water in your gutter and are not visible once they are installed, making them an ideal choice if you are worried about the appearance of your gutter. They can quickly be cut to size and installed without any special tools, making this a fast home improvement project.
VII. Frequently Asked Questions
Who, When, and Where Was the Gutter Invented?
Water channeling technology has been in use for thousands of years. Romans brought the earliest rain gutters to Britan around 50 AD. The technology was re-introduced by the Normans after an invasion in 1066; wooden gutters were featured on famous structures like the Tower of London.
The first gutters were made of clay and stone. Later rain gutters were made of wood and lined with lead. The modern iron gutter was developed by Joseph Bazalgette in 1849 as part of a greater sewer system for the city of London. This system kept moisture away from houses, directed sewage away from the river, and greatly increased the health of the local population.
How Long Do Gutters Last?
Steel and aluminum gutters last around 20 years. If treated well, copper gutters can last up to 50 years. These are expected lifespans, but you should replace your gutters whenever they show obvious signs of wear and damage.
Old gutters start to display signs of rust and structural weakness. You might notice warped metal, chipped paint, holes, leaky joints, sagging, and splits along the ridges. On a rainy day, inspect your gutters to see if the water is flowing smoothly through the channels and away from your home.
Can Gutters Be Repaired?
Gutters can be repaired in many circumstances. Small holes can be patched with a material similar to the original gutter. Joints can be reconnected to prevent leaks. Sagging gutters can be supported to better hold the weight of rainwater.
Whether a gutter can be repaired depends on the amount of rust damage and the structural integrity of the metal. A professional repairman will be able to inspect your gutters and determine if they should be fixed or replaced. Small leaks can be fixed, but if there is extensive damage, it’s usually cheaper to install a new gutter.
Can Gutters Be Recycled and/or Reused?
Most recycling centers will readily accept steel, aluminum, or copper gutters; you may even get a scrap metal price if you bring them to the correct location. Vinyl and plastic gutters are recyclable, but some centers may not accept them.
Old gutters in good condition can be reused for a variety of household projects. You can use them to make shelves, edge landscaping, or create interesting art pieces. Don’t use rusty gutters for these projects, and make sure that you clean the gutters thoroughly before bringing them into your home.
If you order a new set of gutters, the installation company will usually dispose of the old gutters free of charge. This is a good choice if there is no recycling center in your area.
Can Used Gutters Be Sold? If so, Where?
You can usually sell metal gutters to a scrap metal recycling center. Actual prices vary, but used aluminum can sell anywhere from 20 to 70 cents per pound. Contact the recycling center first; you may need to clean or prepare the gutters for scrapping.
Can Gutters Overflow? If so, How Is This Prevented or Fixed?
Gutters can overflow if they are not properly maintained. You can usually fix this with simple cleaning and repair. Never try to fix an overflowing gutter during a storm; wait until the area is dry to perform your maintenance.
A debris clog is the most common reason that gutters overflow. Clean your gutters frequently to remove leaves, dirt, and trash. Clogs often occur in downspouts; you can get rid of a clog by using a leaf blower, a hose, or another type of forced pressure.
Gutters can also overflow if they are improperly positioned. Your gutters should be level with your house and tilted slightly towards the downspout. To fix this, repair any support structures. You may also want to install a gutter guard.
If your gutters always overflow in heavy rain, they might not be big enough for your local weather conditions. Installing larger gutters is a quick solution to this problem.
Can Gutters Be Painted?
Gutters are often painted to improve their appearance; in fact, many aluminum gutters are manufactured with a coat of white paint. The right paint will keep your gutters from rusting and significantly increase their lifespan.
If you want to repaint your gutters, start by washing them, stripping any old paint, and sanding the surface to achieve an even coating. Remember to use a rust-proof primer, and choose a paint that is appropriate for an outdoor environment.
Always remove gutters before you paint them. The part of the gutter that sits against the house needs to be painted to prevent rust damage.
Video: How to Install a Gutter on Your House
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