Gutters are one of those things we don’t pay much attention to until they’re not working. However, they’re vital to the home. They keep buckets of rainwater off that landscaping you’ve sweat so long over, protect your siding from discoloration, and move rainwater and snow away from your home to avoid a soggy foundation.
Depending on the type of materials used, gutters can last for decades. Over time, you may find that there’s minor damage to just one or two spots on your gutter. In that case, they can be replaced piecemeal as opposed to an overhaul of the entire system.
However, if you’re finding lots of rust, broken joints, sagging, or stains on the sides of your home — it may be time to look into replacing them.
Types of Gutters
Gutters are typically made of one of five different materials: aluminum, vinyl, zinc, steel, and cooper. The design itself will also depend on your aesthetic as well as their function depending on how much rainfall your area gets. In fact, some homeowners who live in arid climates with little to no rain may even opt not to bother with gutters. But for everyone else, here are the three most common designs:
- K-style: These have been popular choices for homeowners the last few decades as they feature a decorative front. They can be nailed directly into the fascia board (more on that later).
- Half-round gutters: Rounded pipes with the top half cut off. This style is found in older homes, and because of the curves, require brackets to hold them in place,
- Custom built: One long stretch of aluminum is used to create these gutters, which are made custom to each individual home and project. Because they are made from scratch, they are the most expensive.
Before the Installation
Luckily, gutter installation or replacement is considered regular home maintenance, so you won’t be needing to get a permit for it. However, you may want to look into if your local ordinance requires a certain type of gutter. Your contractor will be able to help you find out.
After hiring a contractor that you have vetted and trust, they will come out to inspect the home to make sure they have the right materials and amount of gutters to install. They will be looking at:
- Shape of your home: Is your home a simple rectangle, or does it have a lot of odd bends and corners? This will impact the materials used and how much of it.
- Access: Depending on the layout of your home and landscaping, the contractor will have to determine the best way to access the gutters.
- Materials: The material and type of gutters that will be installed will depend on a number of factors, such as how much rainfall your area gets, how close you are to the ocean, and more. You can also let your contractor if you have a preference for color to match the scheme of your home.
- Soffits: The part where the roof meetings the siding. This allows rain and snow to run away from your home, protecting the siding. It also helps regulate the temperature in your home.
- Fascia: This is the board that runs along the underside of the eaves; the gutters sit on top of this decorative piece of wood. Fascia brackets will be installed to help hold up the gutters.
If you have any paint chipping due to faulty or aging gutters, repaint them before the new installation rather than after. This will also help protect the side of the home from further damage.
During the Installation
In the case of an emergency, you may not have much choice in when to have them replaced or installed, but the summer is recommended as your region prepares for the fall and winter. For more tropical climates, choose a time when it’s drier to prepare for the wet season.
As your contractor is replacing or installing the gutters, they will be looking at the slope of the roof. This will determine the placement and slant of the gutters to the downspout. If it’s not done correctly, water can pool — not the purpose of gutters!
When using an experienced contractor, the job can be done in just a day, depending on the size of the project and its complexity. However, as we mentioned before, a home with a lot of angles and more complex shapes makes the project more difficult and can make the project go longer. Regardless, gutter installation and replacement is a relatively quick process compared to a lot of other home improvement projects.
Ready to begin your gutter installation or replacement? We can help. Find local, reliable gutter contractors near you.