February 05, 2020 at 4:15pm | Client Care

Types of Gutters and Costs

The good news: Gutters come in all shapes, colors, and prices so you can easily find a match for your style of house and budget. Unfortunately, figuring the right sizes of the gutters and downspouts for your roof involves some head-banging mathematical formulas.


Not to worry. We're here to guide you on the path to gutter glory. If you'd like to do your own calculations for sizing your gutters, we'll help you through it.


Basic Types of Gutters

Let's start with shapes. There are two basic types, and they're referred to by the shape of their cross section. Both types come in 5- and 6-inch widths.


Gutter Materials

Residential gutters are made from various metals, including:


Aluminum


Most widely used material

Lightweight and easy to install for DIYers

Won't rust

.032- or .027-gauge thickness recommended for long-lasting duty in regions with snow

Comes in various colors and can be painted

Cost of materials if you DIY: $2 to 3 per linear foot (6-inch K-style) including downspouts


Cost of pro install (materials and labor): $4 to $9 per linear foot


Copper


Exceptional beauty

Won't rust

No need to paint; will develop a patina over time

Needs pro installation; seams and joints must be welded

Used primarily on high-end residences and historic restorations

Pricey

Cost of pro install (materials and labor): $12 to $25 per linear foot (6-inch K-style)


Seamless Aluminum


Seamless (or continuous) gutters are made at the job site. A truck with a spool of flat aluminum pulls up to your home, and the fabricator uses a gutter-forming machine to custom make whatever gutter length is required. There's no hauling of long gutters. About 70% of all gutter installations are the seamless type.


Installing seamless gutters:


Eliminates many seams and reduces chances of leaks

Costs slightly more than regular aluminum gutters

Cost of pro install (fabrication and materials): $5 to $11 per linear foot (6-inch K-style)


Steel


Strong

Galvanized steel resists rust but longevity is an issue; may start to rust after 5 to 10 years

Many color options; can be painted

Heavy and not recommended for DIY

Can be pricey

Cost of DIY materials, including downspouts: $4 to $6 per linear foot (6-inch K-style)


Cost of pro install (materials and labor): $8 to $10 per linear foot


Vinyl


Lightweight and inexpensive; good for DIYers

Not many colors to choose from

Color susceptible to fading from UV sunlight

May crack in severe cold

Won't support ladders placed against them

Cost of DIY materials, including downspouts: $1 to $2 per linear foot (6-inch K-style)


Cost of pro install (materials and labor): $3 to $5 per linear foot


Zinc


Durable and long-lasting

No need to paint; will develop a patina over time

Needs pro installation; seams and joints must be welded

Used primarily on high-end residences and historic restorations

Expensive

Cost of pro install (materials and labor): $10 to $24 per linear foot, 6-inch half-round (K-style not available in zinc)


Downspouts

Downspouts come as either round or square, in widths from 3 to 6 inches. The most common sizes are rectangular:


2 inches by 3 inches

3 inches by 4 inches

Decorative varieties, such as spiral shapes, are available.


The size and number of downspouts you'll need depends on the capacity of your system.


Rule of thumb: You need one downspout for about every 30 to 40 linear feet of gutter. To increase the capacity of your gutter system, add more downspouts.


How Much Gutter Do You Need?

Figuring gutters sizes and capacities is a complex brain-freeze equation involving the size  and slope of your roof and the average maximum rainfall your area can expect. We recommend leaving the calculations to your gutter installation professional.


For the most part, you won’t go wrong with a 5-inch, K-style gutter. "A 5-inch gutter is pretty standard and will handle rainfall just about anywhere in the country," says Bill Sheetz, owner of Lake Cook Exteriors in Palatine, Ill. He uses them on “almost all our installations.” And he specs oversized (3-inch-by-4-inch) downspouts to ensure good drainage.


Sheetz says a 6-inch gutter has almost twice the capacity of a 5-inch, but cautions that in cold climates, larger gutters run the risk of getting weighted down with ice that could damage the gutter system. Moving to a 6-inch gutter increases costs by about 25%.


For those of you who are self-reliant DIYers determined to do the calculations, these step-by-step instructions will take you through the process.

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