Rain Gutter Systems & Supplies | Gutter Supply
Are you a contractor? Get exclusive pricing & discounts | Learn More

Additional Information

Gutter Buying Guide: Types, Materials, Installation & More

Rain gutters protect your home by channeling water away from its foundation and siding and prevent water damage, mold growth, and erosion. 

Before you make a purchase, there are several aspects you should consider. This guide will help homeowners choose the proper gutter types, materials and installation instructions for their homes and budget.

Types of Gutters

When it comes to gutters, there are two major types - Half-round gutters and K-style gutters. Half round gutters are the preferred profile for traditional and historical applications and add an architectural accent to any roofline.

With the invention of the portable seamless gutter machine, K style gutters are the most popular of all the different gutter profiles as they are the most widely available, the least expensive, and the easiest to install.

Half-Round Gutters

Half-round guttersas their name suggests, are half moon/half circle shaped.  The rounded bottom keeps the water flowing which makes it easier for leaves and debris to drain through the system.  Half round gutters have a bead on the outside of the gutter that provides added strength and durability and it also provides a nice architectural feature.  There are two different profiles available with the half round profile with the difference being the bead in the front.  Historically, the bead rolled to the outside and this profile is called traditional bead or single bead.  The invention of the seamless half round gutter machine brought a half round gutter system with the bead rolling to the inside which allows for using hidden hangers that are commonly used with k style gutters.

K-Style Gutters

K-style gutters, also called ogee or OG gutters, have a flat back, a flat bottom, and a decorative front. They are the most commonly installed gutters on residential homes. Many contractors have the machinery to make K-Style gutters at the job site, providing longer lengths and ultimately fewer seams. 

Because this style has a flat back, the gutter hangers can be screwed directly to the fascia board. Some of the advantages of K-style gutters are that they provide a seamless finish making it less prone to leaks, can hold more water than a rounded style gutter, offer a stylish appearance for the homes exterior, and are less likely to bend or buckle under snow and ice conditions or when a ladder is placed against the gutter.

K-style channels are available in many materials, including aluminum, galvanized steel, copper, and galvalume, and paint grip steel. They come in various sizes and colors to match your homes trim. 

Common Gutter Materials

  • Aluminum Gutters - Aluminum is a popular material for gutters because it is lightweight and durable. Aluminum gutters will not rust or corrode, and they can be painted to match the trim on your house. Aluminum is the most widely available metal for gutters which makes it one of the most cost effective gutter systems.

  • Copper Gutters - Copper is a popular quality gutter material for its durability and longevity - copper gutters can last for decades with the proper installation and maintenance. Copper is also a low-maintenance option, as it does not rust or rot. Copper gutters have the highest upfront costs of all the gutter systems but provide the best value over the long haul. And as copper ages, the patina process makes them more attractive year after year.

  • Galvanized Steel Gutters - Galvanized steel gutters are a type of gutter made from steel that has been coated with a layer of zinc. The zinc protects the steel from corrosion and gives the gutters a long lifespan. Galvanized steel gutters are strong and durable, and they can be used on homes of all sizes. However, they may rust over time, and they can be difficult to install.
  • Euro Copper Gutters - Euro Copper Gutters are made from pure copper.  They are manufactured in Italy and Germany and only available in metric sizes.  The Euro line of copper gutters have a number of unique accessories that are both practical and architectural making this a great finishing touch.
  • Designer Copper Gutters - Designed copper Gutters are actually an aluminum gutter with a unique, multi-colored paint finish that gives it the "marbled" appearance of slightly aged copper.
  • Freedom Gray Copper Gutters - Freedom Gray Gutters are copper with a patented coating to the copper.  The coating was designed to minimize the green streaking that can be common with standard copper oxidation. They will oxidize and weather into a more earthy gray tone as time goes on. The shell will minimize the possibility of "white rust" corrosion and keep the gutters protected from weather damage. Freedom gray gutters are often used as an alternative to standard copper as they won't leave the same green oxidized staining that is common with copper.
  • Galvalume Gutters- Galvalume is a type of steel that is coated with a layer of aluminum and zinc to protect the steel from corrosion and rust. Galvalume gutters are a great option where added tensile strength is desired over that of aluminum gutters.

  • Zinc Gutters - Zinc gutters are a type of gutter made from zinc-coated steel. This material is known for its durability and resistance to corrosion, making it an ideal choice for locations with high humidity or salt spray. Zinc gutters have long been used on architectural roofing and gutter systems on some of the great European architectural masterpieces and have stood the test of time.

  • Mill Finish Aluminum Gutters - Mill finish gutters, as the name suggests, are gutters that do not have a paint finish.  Mill finish gutters are a popular choice when a "tin look" is the desired appearance or when a custom paint color is sought.
  • Paint Grip Steel Gutters -Paint Grip Steel Gutters are steel gutters that are ready for paint.  Their counterpart, the galvanized gutters, have a zinc coating and are not ready for paint as the coating will need to weather the elements before paint can be applied.

Parts of A Gutter System

Understanding the "anatomy" of a gutter system is essential to maintain the system for many years and to spot potential problems. Below is a comprehensive list of the parts that make up a gutter system. While every gutter system may not include all these parts, most of them will have the major components.

  • Gutters - Gutters are the main component of the system. They are the "troughs" that collect and channel the water away from your home.

  • Downspouts - Downspouts are the pipes carrying the runoff water from the gutters to the ground or drainpipe.

  • Downspout Elbows - Downspout elbows are curved pieces that connect the downspouts to the gutters and are often necessary to span the eave at the gutter line or at the bottom of the downspout to direct water in a certain direction.

  • Rain Chains - Rain chains are an aesthetic alternative to downspouts. They are usually made from metals like copper or aluminum and hang from the gutters to the ground.

  • End Caps - End caps are fitted onto the ends of the gutters. They cap off the gutter system at its ends so that water doesn't flow out of the system.

  • Hangers - Gutter hangers are the brackets that attach the gutters to your home's fascia board and provide the gutter the necessary support it needs.

  • Downspout BracketsDownspout brackets are the brackets that attach the downspouts to your home.

  • Gutter Guards - Gutter guards are installed over the gutters. They filter out the debris that clogs the gutters. 

Gutter Installation Steps & Tips

Gutter installation is not complex. An experienced contractor has the tools and materials to install your gutters quickly and efficiently. You may hire a full-service contractor through a local home improvement store or by contacting a gutter installation company directly. 

  • Step 1: Measure and cut the gutters to size.

  • Step 2:Install the end caps to the ends of the gutters and install the outlet tubes at the desired location on the gutter where the downspout is to connect.

  • Step 3:Hang the gutters using zinc coated or stainless screws. It's usually best to start at the place furthest from the downspout.  Install the top back part of the gutter to the top of the fascia board.  Use a level or chalk a line so the gutters are pitched towards the downspout.  A pitch of 1/8" to 1/4" per 10 feet of pitch is recommended.

  • Step 4:Install gutters hangers approximately every 24 inches to every 32" and 12" from each end or miter.  Hanger brackets should be installed through the back of the gutter and at the top.

  • Step 5: Use a sealant to seal the joints between sections of gutters.

  • Step 6: Install downspout brackets on the wall and attach the downspouts using zip screws.

  • Step 7: Check that the gutters drain correctly by running water through them with a hose. 

After installation, clean your gutters regularly to ensure they function correctly and last long.

Gutter Sizing

Most homes require no more than the commonly used five-inch or six-inch gutters. 

The size of your gutter depends on the following factors.

  • The amount of rainfall in your area 
  • The size and slope of your roof 
  • The number of trees near your home 
  • The type of roofing material on the home

If you belong to a place that receives hefty rainfall or has a large and steep roof, you may need larger gutters. And if there are a lot of trees near your home, you will need to clean your gutters more often, so you may want to choose larger gutters that can handle more debris. 

Gutter FAQs

Are gutters always necessary?

If you have a sloped roof, gutters must direct the rainwater water away from your home's foundation. Without gutters, the water would pool around your home and cause damage to the foundation or landscaping. Gutters also prevent water stains on your siding and basement flooding. 

How long do gutters last?

Gutters are made from various materials. Some of them are aluminum, steel, vinyl, and copper. The lifespan of your gutters will depend on the material they are made from and how well they are maintained. Generally, gutters made from aluminum or steel will last 20-30 years, while vinyl gutters will last 10-20 years. Copper gutters have the most extended lifespan and come with a warranty of up to 50 years. Regular gutter cleaning and gutter repair prevent them from wearing out prematurely.

How much do gutters cost?

Gutter prices vary depending on the size and material of the gutters. Aluminum gutters are the most affordable, while copper gutters are the most expensive. The price of one linear foot starts from around $5-10 for an aluminum gutter and $30-50 for a copper gutter.  Prices can greatly vary depending on the height, how cut up (how many miters) the job is, and the type of gutter brackets that are needed for that particular application.

The cost of installation is another critical factor to consider. Hiring a professional to install your gutters will cost more than doing it yourself, but it will save you time and ensure perfection

What type of gutter is best?

The best type of gutter depends on your needs and budget. For instance, aluminum gutters are a good choice if you are looking for an affordable option. If you are from a place with heavy rainfall, you may want to choose gutters made from steel, galvalume, or zinc as these materials are more durable. Copper gutters are the most expensive but have the longest lifespan. They add a touch of elegance to your home and are low maintenance. 

Can I install gutters myself?

Installing gutters is not a difficult task, but it is time-consuming. If you are short on time or not confident in your DIY skills, it is best to hire a professional and install gutters. Professional installation ensures that the job is done correctly and can save you time and hassle in the long run. 

Can I fix sagging gutters?

If gutters are sagging, it may be due to a problem with the hangers or brackets that hold the gutters in place. You will need to replace the hangers or brackets to fix this problem. It is a relatively simple task that you can do yourself, but it is always recommended to speak to a trained contractor if you are unsure. 

Should I install gutter leaf guards?

Gutter leaf guards are not necessary for all homes, but they can be helpful if you live in an area with many trees. Leaf guards prevent leaves, twigs, and other debris from clogging your gutters and, thus, save your home from potential water damage. It lowers the time you spend cleaning the gutters. If you decide to install leaf guards, be sure to choose a type that is compatible with your gutter system. 

Do I need gutters around my entire house?

It is not necessary to install gutters around the entire perimeter of your house. If you have a sloped roof, you will need to install gutters on the roof section that slopes down toward your home. To prevent water damage, you may also want to consider installing gutters on other parts of your house, such as porches or patios.

Featured Articles & Resources

View All
Need Help? Please call us at: (888) 909-RAIN
Follow Us