4 Different Types of Gutters to Protect Your Home
Rain gutters are more important than you might think. Not only do they keep rain from drenching you as you come in the door, but they also direct water away from your siding and foundation. This reduces the risk of water damage to your home, from foundation settlement and basement flooding to mold development.
Though gutters are a relatively simple structure, they come in various styles and materials that each have benefits and drawbacks. This guide will help you make sense of the different types of gutters and determine the right fit for your home. If you want to invest in gutter guards to keep your gutters clean, we’ve also researched and ranked some of the best gutter guard services in the United States.
Rain gutters come in four different primary styles. Read about each gutter shape in detail below.
K-style gutters are the most common type of gutter because they’re DIY-friendly and have a decorative look that resembles crown molding. They come in standard 5-inch to 6-inch widths and often feature rectangular downspouts. They also have a flat back and can be nailed directly into your fascia boards, making them easy to install.
On the downside, K-style gutters are more challenging to clean than other gutters. Their inner angles collect a lot of debris, leading to rotting.
Half-round gutters feature a semicircular trough with a curved lip. This design makes them better suited for round downspouts. Like K-style gutters, half-round gutters come in 5-inch to 6-inch widths. These gutters were popular in homes built before 1960 and have a more traditional look. For this reason, they work well for historic and brick homes. If your home is historical or in an older neighborhood, your local ordinance may even require you to have this type of gutter.
Though box-style gutters are typically found on commercial and industrial buildings, they’ve been used on residential homes to give them an industrial aesthetic. These gutters are oversized and designed to handle large amounts of rainwater, making them ideal for homes with big roofs. They usually come in 7-inch and 8-inch widths, but some are as wide as 10 inches.
Unlike K-style and half-round gutters, box-style gutters aren’t hung on the edge of your roof. Instead, they have a high back section that tucks under your roof’s shingles. This means they have to be installed while your home is being built.
Fascia gutters are custom-built gutters that provide a seamless, contemporary look. You’ll need to work with a professional installer who will build a gutter system from one long piece of aluminum specifically tailored to your home. For this reason, fascia gutters can cost up to twice as much as half-round or K-style gutters.
Types of Gutter Materials
Gutters come in various materials to match your home’s appearance and budget. Read about the most popular gutter materials below.
Wood gutters add character to any home, but we recommend them if you have a historic home. They’re an easy way to make your exterior look more luxurious. However, wood gutters require routine treatment with stains or paint each year. Their interior also requires water-resistant oil. If not maintained adequately, wood gutters rot.
If you want one of the most low-maintenance gutter options, pre-weathered zinc gutters are excellent. These gutters don’t rust, and they include a self-sealing patina that prevents the formation of any scratches or cracks from falling debris. This means you get good-looking gutters for a longer amount of time; zinc gutters have a lifespan of up to 80 years.
Made from PVC and plastics, vinyl gutters are among the most common types of gutters. Though they’re easy to install, they aren’t very durable, lasting an average of only 10 to 20 years. Vinyl tends to deteriorate particularly quickly in wet climates.
Aluminum gutters are another popular option for gutter systems. They have an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years and work well for DIY installation. Aluminum gutters are also rust-resistant, but they’re more susceptible to cracking than other metal gutters because they’re lightweight.
Galvanized Steel Gutters
Galvanized steel gutters are more durable than aluminum ones and require professional installation. These gutters are durable and function well even in wet climates with heavy rainfall. They have a longer average lifespan of 20 to 30 years but may rust if not correctly maintained.
Important Gutter Terms to Know
There are many words and phrases related to gutter systems that you likely haven’t heard in your everyday life. Some of these may be confusing, so we’ve listed some of the most important terms to know below.
- Downspouts: This is the part of your gutters that runs vertically down the side of your house. These segments direct water from your roof to the ground or a collection vessel.
- Downspout Elbow: This refers to the angled piece at the bottom of a downspout. It resembles the look of an elbow and directs water further away from your home’s foundation.
- End Caps: End caps fit onto the end of each gutter to seal it off.
- Hangers: These are strips of metal that support the bottom of the gutter and prevent it from sagging. They’re typically unnoticeable unless you’re looking for them directly.
- Mitered Corner: This refers to the piece of gutter that fits on your roof’s corner.
- Section: This is a unit of measurement for each piece of gutter.