Surprisingly, there are quite a few options to choose from when purchasing rain gutters for your house, whether you're building from the ground up or replacing existing gutters. Some things to consider to narrow down your decision are the gutter size, the coating that goes over the actual gutter material, and if you want the color to match the roofing and trim of your house.
Another important factor, and perhaps the most important one, is the material of the rain gutters. You can choose from copper, steel, aluminum, and zinc. If you opt for copper or zinc, they will cost you quite a bit more, but will not have to be painted to improve their appearance. Copper and zinc turn a natural brown color over time that will add to the beauty of your house. Here's some details on seven types of rain gutters and their pros and cons.
Popular Rain Gutter Materials
Aluminum rain gutters are the least expensive option. They're lightweight, easy to install, and can be painted any color you want. They're readily available at home improvement stores, making them an obvious choice for DIYers.
Because they're made of leightweight plastic, vinyl gutters are easy to install and durable compared to other materials. They won't dent or corrode as might metal gutters. Vinyl is also one of the cheaper materials for rain gutters, but do be sure to purchase a version that's on the thicker side so it won't sag with age or become brittle. Vinyl gutters are generally used in mild climates where there is not a lot of freezing and thawing. They cannot withstand a lot of weight, but do not show wear from salt air. In general, vinyl gutters are inexpensive and easy to maintain.
Steel is stronger than aluminum and is a better choice if you live in an area with extreme weather climates that require a sturdy gutter system. Galvanized steel gutters can easily withstand the expansion and contraction that comes along with weather changes. While they will hold up well compared to other materials, they are a bit more costly.
Wood rain gutters are aesthetically pleasing as well as strong, but there are several drawbacks to using them on a house. They carry less water than rain gutters made from other materials because their surface is rougher (think of a smooth metal surface in comparison); there's more resistance to the flow of water. They also require more maintenance than other styles, needing periodic oiling or sealant applications. However, they can outlast most types of material if they are cared for properly. Generally, wood gutters are used in restorations of older homes or in custom buildings. If you go with wood, redwood and fir are your best bets as they are the most durable.
Popular Rain Gutter Styles
The K-style rain gutter, also called an ogee gutter, makes up about 80 percent of gutter styles. It's so called because when you look at it from the side, the profile is in the shape of the letter "K." If you look at the K-style gutter from the front, it looks like crown molding, making it visually appealing and therefore a popular choice for homeowners. Besides its stylish appearance, there are several benefits to the K-style profile. The seamless construction eliminates leaking and provides durability. It also has a large capacity for rain water because of the shape itself. K-style profile rain gutters come in a variety of materials including aluminum and copper.
Seamless gutters eliminate the problem of seams in other types of rain gutters that can either leak or catch debris and hamper the flow of rain water. The installer uses a machine to create the proper fit for the home's profile, with joints only at right angles or downspouts.
This style of rain gutter is usually custom-made to be seamless and fixed to the fascia board (the piece of siding between the gutter and exterior of the house), providing a sleek and clean look that many prefer on the outside of their home. One of the downsides of fascia gutters is that they're typically deep and therefore can collect a lot of leaves and debris, making them a challenge to keep clean. They also require a more extensive installation process than other types of rain gutters.