The idea of water leaks, flooding, and broken pipes in your home can conjure scary thoughts of water damage. The hero of safeguarding your home from heavy rain storms and melting snow is your gutter system. A proper gutter and downspout system can protect you from a waterfall of rain cascading down your roof when making the dash between car and front door. But more importantly, it protects decks, the home’s foundation, basements, and helps prevent water from seeping into your home and causing costly damage. Whether you need a gutter repair, gutter replacement, or gutter installation on a new build, Modernize can help you understand your many gutter and downspout options. We will also let you know what to ask a contractor when your project kicks off.
Types of Gutters
While all gutters serve the same primary purpose – to keep your home structurally safe and sound from water damage – homeowners have different types of gutters to choose from. The gutter’s material impacts the system’s longevity, strength and durability, weather-resistance, and cost. New gutters typically come in materials like aluminum, steel, copper, zinc, and vinyl.
It is worth investing in a durable gutter system to avoid gutter repairs, as well as costly damage to your home down the road. Keep in mind that the amount of rain and snow a geographic location gets influences not only the gutter material that works best, but also the size required and maintenance.
The following are the best types of gutters on the market, as well as their pros and cons.
1. Aluminum Gutters
Aluminum gutters are a popular low-cost, low maintenance gutter system
Cold climate friendly
Can dent and bend over time
Average Cost per linear foot:
$8.30 - $15.10
Aluminum gutters are the most popular choices for rain gutters for U.S. homes, thanks to their easy installation and low cost. This lightweight material comes in a variety of colors, but can also be painted as needed. Aluminum gutters are resistant to rust, able to withstand extremely cold temperatures, and can stand strong against inclement weather.
However, the curb appeal of aluminum can diminish over time. Aluminum is susceptible to denting and bending, though thicker options are available to reduce these concerns. These gutters can also become bent easily if you choose the recycled aluminum rather than more sturdy options.
On average, homeowners can expect to paybetween $8.30 and $15.10 per linear foot for aluminum gutters. The national average cost per linear foot for aluminum gutters is $11.70. Aluminum gutters last approximately 20 to 25 years, with proper maintenance.
2. Vinyl Gutters
Vinyl gutters are the most affordable and lightweight gutter option
Will not rust or corrode
Not the best option for extreme weather
Average Cost per linear foot:
$5 - $9
Vinyl gutters are affordable and easy-to-install and have become very popular among homeowners. This type of gutter comes in a limited variety of colors. However, they can be painted if you cannot find a color that matches the look of your home.
On the downside, vinyl is a lightweight material that can bend, crack, or sag during heavy rain, snow, or winds. Vinyl gutters also may become brittle in extreme hot or cold weather. For these reasons, they are slightly less durable compared to aluminum gutters.
Despite these drawbacks, vinyl has grown in popularity thanks to its low average cost of $5 to $9 per linear foot.The national average cost to install vinyl gutters is just $7. This material is expected to last 15 to 20 years, though certain weather conditions can cause this to fluctuate.
3. Copper Gutters
Copper gutters have superior durability, boost curb appeal, and last up to 100 years.
Superior durability and lifespan
Will not rust, corrode, or warp
Last up to 100 years
One of the most pricy gutter options
Average Cost per linear foot:
$15.80 - $28.80
Copper gutters are typically more pricey than other types of gutter materials. However, there is a good reason for the price – they are some of the best types of gutters available to homeowners. Copper is extremely rust-resistant, requires no painting, is resistant to mold and mildew, and is fairly low maintenance compared to other gutter systems. Not to mention, copper gutters are stylish and known to boost curb appeal. When installing copper gutters, you can expect superior durability, as they have the ability to last 100 years or more, no matter what climate a home is in.
However, over time, copper gutters can oxidize to a blueish-green color. Additionally, copper gutters are fairly expensive and must be custom-built to fit your home.
Copper gutters are considered a high-end gutter option, costing an average of $15.80 to $28.80 per linear foot. The national average cost to install copper gutters is $22.80 per linear foot. This makes them a better choice for homeowners that plan to live in their home for a long time, or prefer very high quality gutters.
4. Zinc Gutters
Zinc gutters have superior durability, boost curb appeal, and last up to 100 years.
Resistant to rust, corrosion and warping
Become more attractive over time
Last 50+ years
Can stain in locations with salty air
Average Cost per linear foot:
Zinc gutters are another type of high-end gutter system with superior durability. Like copper gutters, they are rust-resistant, corrosion resistant and will not weather or warp easily. One appealing benefit to zinc gutters is that they become more attractive as they age, developing a weathered gray patina.
While they are one of the most durable gutter types, zinc gutters are slightly less durable compared to copper gutters. They are not the best suited gutter systems for coastal homes, as they can stain in locations with high salt content in the air.
When maintained properly, zinc gutter should last up to 50 years or more without damage. While zinc gutters are relatively expensive compared to other gutter types, they are not as pricy as copper gutters. You can expect zinc gutters to cost between $10 and $22 per linear foot.
5. Steel Gutters
Steel gutters are the most weather-resistant type of gutters and are durable in all climates
Available in multiple steel types
Last 20-50 years
Prone to rust after 10-15 years
Average Cost per linear foot:
$5.95 - $10.85
Steel gutters are considered a mid-ranged priced gutter option. Nonetheless, they have increased durability compared to aluminum and vinyl gutters, thanks to the zinc coating that is added.
Steel gutters come in a variety of options including stainless steel, galvanized and Galvalume (steel coated with a combination of aluminum and zinc). Each of these varieties are incredibly strong and weather-resistant, though galvanized steel gutters can be impacted by rust as oxidation typically occurs after 10-15 years.
One potential downside to steel gutters is that they tend to be heavier compared to other gutter types. This makes them more difficult to install and can put strain on your home’s roof.
Steel gutters range from $5.95 to $10.85 per linear foot for installation depending on the type of coating. The national average cost to install steel gutters is $8.40 per linear foot. Considering the price and the fact that they are one of the most weather-resistant types of gutters, the investment can be well worth it.
Note that pure stainless steel gutters can cost as much as $30 per linear foot. Steel gutter varieties are expected to last at least 20 years. Galvalume gutters can last even longer.
In addition to types of gutters, homeowners can also choose a gutter style that best fits their home and geographical area. There are two main gutter stylesto choose from: k-style, the most common with U.S. homes, and half-round.
K-style gutters are the most common gutter shape and can be found on most homes in the U.S. They work best for angled roofs. Their shape closely resembles the appearance of crown molding — an appealing choice with high curb appeal for many homeowners.
K-style gutters can also hold more rainwater compared to other shapes of similar widths. This makes them an ideal choice for homes in rainy climates. These gutters come in a range of materials and colors, and are easy to install, creating a seamless end product that will protect most any home.
Half-round gutters are an inexpensive alternative to K-style gutters and can be a beautiful feature on many historic and traditional home styles.
These gutters can move and drain water more efficiently than their K-style counterparts. However, they cannot handle as large volumes of water as well as K-style. For homeowners in areas with less frequent rain in search of a unique, traditional-style gutter, half-rounds might be an ideal solution.
Seamless vs. Sectional Gutters
You can also choose between seamless gutters and sectional gutters. Seamless gutters are custom fit to your home, more durable and weather-resistant, and less prone to leaks and damage. Sectional gutters, while DIY-friendly and affordable, are more prone to damage and require repairs. Modernize recommends going with seamless gutters for the maximum protection and return on investment.
The key to gutter and downspout system longevity is proper care and cleaning. But cleaning gutters is not typically on the top of a homeowner’s ideal weekend to-do list. It is a messy chore that can present physical risks.
Installing gutter guards is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of time spent cleaning gutters. These protective filters help keep leaves and other debris from clogging your gutter system. They also water to flow with ease, preventing water leaks and water damage to your home. Gutter guards come at an additional cost during a gutter installation. But they can greatly improve the longevity of the gutter system.
How Much Does a Gutter Installation Cost?
Luckily, gutter installations and replacements are fairly affordable home improvement projects. They are well worth it because they protect your home from expensive water damage, and can potentially save you thousands of dollars down the road.
While gutter installation costs can vary greatly and range from several hundred to several thousands of dollars, the national average price range for a gutter replacement is $880 to $4,400, with most homeowners spending around $2,800.
The average cost to install a gutter system is largely dependent on the size of your home, the type of gutters you are installing, and the cost of labor and installation in your area. For example, types of gutters to choose from include affordable seamless aluminum gutters vs. high-end seamless copper gutters. Note that copper gutter installations may exceed the national average for gutter projects.
Consult with a professional gutter contractor to find a gutter type that suits your home, local weather conditions, and your budget.
In addition to gutter guards, there are several tools you can use that help extend the life of your gutters and ensure they work efficiently. Some gutter accessories to consider include:
Downspout extensions. If your downspout is too close to your home, there may be a risk of water damage occurring. To avoid this, you can install downspout extensions to help prevent moisture damage to the siding of your home when there’s a lot of rainfall.
Hangers. If you want to install half-round gutters, you can use gutter hangers to mount them to your home. They are attached to boards and allow you to drop your gutters into place inside of them.
Rain chains. Rain chains are stylish solutions for preventing water coming out of gutters from causing erosion to your garden. These chains, which come in attractive styles that can boost the value of your home, break up the flow of water so they don’t spill into your garden.
Splash blocks. Splash blocks are placed at the end of downspouts to help prevent water flowing out of gutters from causing erosion to a homeowner’s yard. This accessory can be found in decorative styles— shaped as animals, leaves, or ponds—that can add to the aesthetic of your home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gutter Installation
There’s a few things you should know ahead of a gutter installation project. Modernize can help you better prepare for your project with a few FAQ’s.
Can I do a DIY gutter installation?
The internet is filled with DIY gutter installation videos. But like many home improvement projects, the skills and knowledge of a professional cannot be replicated in tutorial videos. Professionals can identify potentially dangerous problems — such as damage or wood rot in siding, framing and fascia boards — that might be overlooked otherwise.
Can gutters be repaired rather than totally replaced?
For minor damage, you can opt to have your gutters repaired rather than doing a complete replacement. For example, if you detect small cracks or holes causing your gutters to leak during rain storms, you can often hire a professional to caulk and seal the gutters.
However, if there is more extensive damage to your gutter system, including large cracks and holes, sagging or warping gutters, or broken joints, you will need to replace your gutters. The cost to do a gutter replacement will be more worthwhile and bring you a higher return on investment than doing extensive repairs. Consult with your gutter contractor to make the decision between a gutter repair vs. replacement.
How long does a gutter installation take?
The gutter installation process can take one to several days, depending on the size of your home and materials being used. Discuss the timeline with potential contractors. Be sure to plan ahead in case of any weather-related delays.
What is the best type of gutter system?
There is a variety of different types of gutters, both in terms of materials and styles. In terms of materials, aluminum tends to be the favorite among homeowners because they are affordable, durable, and easy to install. Vinyl is another popular gutter material since it is lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
In terms of styles, K-style tends to be the most popular because they work best with angled roofs and are easy to install. Half-round gutters are an older type of gutter system but easier to clean DIY.
Keep in mind that skilled professionals will be able to provide the best insight on what type of gutter system works best for your particular home.
Finding a Gutter Installation Contractor
Modernize can quickly connect you with trusted, local contractors to complete your gutter installation project. By using the information in this guide and our handy Contractor Checklist, you’ll have the tools you need to select a quality contractor. We will help you move one step closer to a gutter system that protects your family — and your home — from the elements.
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