Types of gutters

There are many different types of gutters, and knowing the facts about each one can help you choose the right one for your home. If you want to install new gutters or if you are just looking to replace your existing gutter system, the question is what type is the best?

Many of the earliest types of gutters were made from wood and were carved into different shapes and sizes.  When metal roll forming machines were introduced in the early 1900's, metal gutters began to take hold and eventually dominate the rain gutter market.

Most early metal rain gutters were constructed into a half round shape. The early gutter forming machines were large, heavy and expensive so most types of gutters were made in factories until about the 1970's when light weight portable gutter machines were introduced.

These light weight gutter machines could be hauled around on trailers to work sites and produce rain gutters on the spot. A portable gutter machine is usually set up to produce only one style of gutter and in usually only one size.

On this page, you will learn about all the different types of gutters on the market today, including:

gutter material

gutter style

sectional or seamless

gutter color

gutter size

             Gutter Material

  • Aluminum gutters, copper gutters, steel gutters, galvalume gutters, zinc gutters and vinyl gutters are your six main choices of gutter material.                                                                      
  • Aluminum Gutters Of all the types of gutters to choose from, there is a very good reason why aluminum dominates the gutter market. The metal is corrosion-resistant, lightweight, easy to work with, available in wide range of colors, and less expensive than the other alternatives.                                         
  • Copper Gutters Copper gutters will not hold up that much better or last longer than aluminum gutters for the added cost. There are certain long term and short term advantages to copper gutters, as long as they are installed properly. Lets face it, one of the main reasons people get copper gutters for their house is for the bragging rights. The standard 16oz copper typically used for gutters is a little stronger than aluminum, but not by much. The main reason to get copper gutters though is the simple fact that you will not need to deal with the painting issue again and they will not mildew like any painted surface.       
  • Galvanized Steel Gutters Galvanized gutters are steel gutters coated with a layer of zinc. This type of gutter is strong but is also prone to rust. Proper gutter installation is very important to ensure proper drainage and avoid standing water in your gutters. Leaf protectors will reduce the amount of leaves that will settle in your gutters. It is strongly recommend that you inspect and clean galvanized gutters often to prevent clogging and premature rusting.                                                               
  • Galvalume Galvalume is steel, with a coating of aluminum and zinc. The result is a strong, durable metal with proven long term corrosion resistance. The coating is 55% Aluminum and 45% Zinc and is applied to the steel sheet by a continuous hot dipping process. Depending on the geographic location of the installation, galvalume has approximately nine times the longevity of galvanized steel.                                                      
  • Zinc Gutters Zinc gutters are usually made from an alloy of 99.5 percent zinc with small amounts of copper and titanium. Similar to copper, zinc is normally used unpainted and will develop a protective patina that protects the zinc gutter from weathering and corrosion. Zinc Gutters cost much more than aluminum gutters initially, but zinc gutters have over twice the lifespan, require no paint and very little maintenance.                  
  • Vinyl gutters   gutters are a low budget alternative to aluminum rain gutters. There is no argument that plastic gutters are the easiest type of gutters to install. They come in pre-cut sections and are light weight which helps with installation. 
  •                 Gutter Styles

    There are number of gutter styles/shapes called profiles but the most common ones are:

    • K Style Gutters

    The most popular type of gutters used today are 5 inch aluminum K-style.They are NOT called K style because they are shaped like the letter K. They are called K-style simply because in the Sheet metal and air conditioning contractors national association (SMACNA) alphabetical listing of the twelve most common gutter types, the letter K is number eleven. K-style gutters are the most popular gutter shape or profile. Because of their decorative crown molding appearance, K-style gutters are also called ogee gutters.

    • Fascia Gutters

    Fascia gutters are generally used on homes where fascia boards have not been installed over the rafter tails. The smooth face of the fascia gutters perform the function of the fascia boards, hiding the edge of the rafter tails from view. Fascia gutters are most commonly found in the Western part of the United States.

    • Half Round Gutters

    A half round gutter is just as the name implies; it is essentially a half circle, with the open half facing the roof. Half round gutters do not work very well. They are about half as deep as the K-5 gutter, so the slightest leveling problem or debris in the gutter will cause it to over flow. Because they don't have a flat back, the gutter hangers for them have to be under the gutter to hold it up, instead of using hidden hangers. 

    • European Gutter

    European gutter systems made from natural weathering metals like copper have been used for centuries to fabricate gutters and downspouts. European gutters are usually distinguished by having a gutter bead that turns to the outside versus to the inside of the gutter and are also typically a half round gutter style 

    Gutter Construction: Sectional or Seamless

    All types of gutters are constructed in one of two ways: They are either made in sections or constructed in one seamless, continuous piece. Sectional gutters are sold in sections. All do it yourself gutter systems are sectional. The sections are usually 10 ft. long. Snap-in-place connectors join gutter sections to each other and to the downspouts. The drawback to sectional systems is that all those seams will eventually leak.

    Seamless gutters won't leak at seams because there are no seams. The sections join only at inside and outside corners. Seamless gutters, made of aluminum, galvanized steel or copper, are extruded to custom lengths on the job site using a portable gutter machine.

    Gutter Colors

    Once you understand the pros and cons of all the possible types of gutters and decision on the design of a gutter system has been made, the next step is to decide which gutter colors to use. There are several different ways to approach this color selection, depending on the visual effect that the owner wishes to create.

    Gutter Sizes

    The terms "5-inch" and "6-inch" refer to the width across the top of the gutter. The larger 6 inch gutter for most homes is pointless. When the outlet clogs, you may have 5 minutes in stead of just 3 minutes before the gutter overflows. Larger outlets and leaf protection will be much more effective in keeping the outlets from getting damned up and keep the gutter functioning. 

    As you can see, there are more types of gutters than most people are aware of. If you have made the decision to replace your gutters, make sure you are familiar with the different types of gutters that are available to you. 

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