gutter styles

Rain Gutter Types 101: Shapes, Sizes & Materials



Gutters are on every home or building. They come in a broad spectrum of different forms, styles, materials, and sizes. You can undoubtedly find gutters of any sort made specifically for you, but it can be a lot less expensive to buy some of the more common gutters on the market today. In this post, we’ll review the pros and cons of different gutter types, designs, and materials, so you go into finding a gutter contactor equipped with the knowledge to make the right choice.

Main Types of Gutters



There are two basic types of rain gutters: sectional (seamed) and seamless. Within each kind are other designations for materials, styles, and colors.

Sectional (Seamed) Gutters

Sectional or seamed gutters are sold in pieces and then patched together to make one larger gutter system. They’re usually connected through a snap system or adhesive and generally come in 10 to 20-foot pieces. These products are typically manufactured from vinyl, aluminum, or steel, although non-steel gutters are a better option since they won’t rust, rot, or need to be repainted.

While they’re cheap and can be easier to install, they’re known for leaking and failing continuously during the time. Since the gutters are sections and not one continuous gutter system, the seams can slowly separate and leak. Worse, you’ll have entire sections of guttering collapsing under the weight of gallons of trapped rainwater.

Pros

  • Easy to install;
  • Aesthetics;
  • A smooth flow of rainwater;
  • Come in a wide range of colors.

Cons

  • They have many seams, which could begin leaking over time;
  • Require special threaded rods and hanger brackets to install them;
  • Prone to gathering any falling matter, including leaves, which may clog them.
Sectional (Seamed) Gutters


Seamless Gutters

Constructed from a single piece of material, seamless gutters require no joints or fasteners to run the building’s length. The length is cut from a long part of a gutter, enabling it to be professionally cut to the exact size needed for your preferences.

Since there are no seams, leaks are far less common with seamless products. It also lowers dramatically the amount of debris that gets caught in the gutter, leading to less upkeep and maintenance.

When professionally installed, these gutters are typically made on-site to custom lengths with a truck-mounted machine. Ultimately, since they’re made from one piece of material and of higher quality, they look better and will accentuate the aesthetics of your property more fluidly.

Pros

  • They are less prone to leaking as each piece is custom cut to fit perfectly.
  • The finished product looks very clean and sleek.
  • There are around 35 different colors to choose from.
  • Aluminum, galvalume, and copper are very durable compared to vinyl gutters.
Seamless Gutters


Gutter Styles and Sizes

Best rain gutters come in four styles and two sizes.

1. K-style

A K-style is the most common gutter design that you’ll see on modern homes and buildings. It has a unique shape on the front edge that resembles a modern home’s crown molding. They have a flat black, so they’re installed to the fascia board trim around the top edge of residence. Being flush versus the wall ensures that water isn’t able to run down the wall. The folds and bends in the metal provide a rigid structure, so they’ll withstand more damage than a half-round.

They’re most often made with aluminum, though it’s common to find materials such as copper, vinyl, and galvanized steel, which make up these gutters. The two most common sizes are 5 inches and 6 inches, with 5 inches being the industry standard, and the 6 inches would be for a slightly higher volume of water.

Pros

  • Big capacity – can hold more water than other rain gutter types;
  • Durable;
  • Easy to install;
  • Versatile – many material choices;
  • Aesthetically pleasing.

Cons

  • Corners can be challenging to clean.
K-style


2. Half-Round

Half-round gutters are more used in older or historic style homes. Their name describes them ideally, as they’re half of a circular pipe with the top half open for water. They’re known to be more rustic, as they’re usually made from copper, which creates a patina over time. But, they also are available in aluminum, vinyl, or galvanized steel. Just like the K-Style, these are available in 5” and 6” sizes.

Also, being smooth on the inside provides a few benefits. First, the metal is less likely to corrode or rust since there’s nowhere for it to pool up or stand still. Secondly, since there’s no creases or hardware on the inside, debris has a clear path and is less probably to get caught up on something and cause a clog.

Pros

  • Rustic look;
  • Easier to clean;
  • Less likely to rust or corrode;
  • Less likely to clog.

Cons

  • More expensive than K-Style;
  • Takes longer to install;
  • Less rigid and durable than K-Style;
new gray metal rain gutter on house rooftop


3. Box Style

The third most popular type is the Box Style gutter. These over-sized gutters are primarily used for commercial or industrial buildings. They’re designed to handle large amounts of water from larger roofs. They’re not hung on the edge of the roof like standard gutters. They have a high back section that tucks under the shingles on the roof. Therefore, these gutters need to be installed when the building is being built. It guarantees that no water can get into the building along the roof edge.

They’re often very expensive, due in part to the wood needed to build them, part of the cost can be attributed to the fact that they must be custom-made for every gutter installation. Box style gutters come standard in sizes 7″ and 8″, but you can even buy larger sizes like 10″.

Pros

  • Very durable;
  • Easy to repair and clean;
  • Seamless;
  • Can handle more water then K-Style;
  • Tons of customization options.

Cons

  • Can warp or rut and require replacing;
  • Due to weathering, you need to repaint the gutters every 8 to 10 years.
Box Style


4. Fascia

Unlike K-style or half-round styles, fascia gutters aren’t sold in sections, leaving seams prone to leaks and rust. Instead, they’re custom-built for the house out of one long stretch of aluminum. Fascia-style gutters are larger than K-style and half-round gutters, making them incredibly popular in California.

In Golden State, larger homes have a lot of roof area, so the accumulated runoff can overflow more traditional gutters when it rains. This gutter is more capable of handling the sudden rush of water and effectively diverting it away from your place with minimal or no overflow.

These roof gutters are pricey and must be professionally installed; you can pay as much as twice for them as K-style or half-round products. It can add up to hundreds, depending on the size of your property.

Pros

  • Great for extreme weather;
  • Secure;
  • Can handle a lot of water;
  • Aesthetic appeal.

Cons

  • Higher maintenance when not protected by gutter guards.
fascia gutters


Gutter Sizes

  • 5 inches – There are two standard sizes of gutters, and one of them is 5-inch. This is most common in K-style products. For most places, this will be a big enough gutter to deal with the water, but if you live in a rainy region, you’ll want to choose wider downspouts to be installed with the gutters. I’ll help your gutter system get the rain away from your home promptly;
  • 6 inchesCommon in half-round gutters, the 6-inch isn’t the biggest size gutter available, but for most homes, it does the job. If you need a larger gutter than the standard 6-inch, it’s important to talk to your roofer about the maximum rainfall intensity, the pitch of the roof, and the drainage area square footage. With these details, a roofer will be able to double-check that a 6″ gutter will be big enough for and that you won’t be at risk of any water damage.
Gutter Sizes 2

Gutter Materials

Below are 6 basic types of gutter material available on the market, giving you plethora of options to choose from.

1. Vinyl

Price: $3-5 per linear foot.

The most budget-friendly option since the sections snap together. Color choices are limited, even though it can be painted. Vinyl won’t rot or rust but becomes brittle in extreme cold and intense sun. This material can bend and bow under heavy rain, snow loads, and wind. Available in K-style, half-round, and many more. Look for a warranty for at least twenty years.

Pros

  • Lightweight and inexpensive;
  • Can be painted;
  • Easy for DIY installation;
  • Not damaged by salty air;
  • Won’t corrode or rust.

Cons

  • Becomes brittle in super-heat climates and can crack when exposed to hard freezes;
  • Color faded with intense sun exposure;
  • Phone to cracking if a ladder is leaned vs. them.
Vinyl Gutters


2. Aluminum

Price: $3-6 per linear foot.

This popular, cost-effective metal won’t rust and comes in various colors, including ones that resemble aged zinc and copper. Available in seamless or in sections kept together with screws or rivets and sealed with caulk. Lightweight (.025-inch thick) and medium-weight (.027-inch) aluminum are susceptible to bending and denting; heavyweight (.032-inch) aluminum lasts longer, about 25 years.

Pros

  • Won’t rust;
  • Lightweight and easy for installation;
  • Available in several colors and can be painted;
  • Weatherproof;
  • It can last up to 25 years.

Cons

  • It can dent or bend.
aluminum gutters


3. Steel

Price: $8-12 per linear foot;

It’s coated in zinc (galvanized), a zinc-aluminum alloy, or combined with chrome (stainless steel) to fend off rust. Available in sections or seamless, joints should be soldered. Galvanized steel lasts 8 to 15 years before it rusts; Galvalume, for example, has a 25-year warranty; stainless steel never rusts. Opt for 26 gauge or thicker.

Pros

  • Very strong;
  • Holds up to all types of weather;
  • Can be painted.

Cons

  • Prone to rust;
  • Heavy.
Steel Gutters


4. Zinc

Price: $8-25 per linear foot.

Rustproof and strong, zinc is excellent for use, thanks to its high contraction and expansion rate when temperatures change. Seams are soldered, but the work is more complicated than with copper. Lasts 30 to 50 years, depending on its vicinity to saltwater. It’s vulnerable to acidic runoff from cedar-shingled roofs.

Pros

  • Very long-lasting;
  • Won’t rust, warp, or fade;
  • Develops an attractive patina during time.

Cons

  • Expensive;
  • Somewhat intolerant to salty air or acidic runoff from cedar-shingled roofs.
Zinc Gutters


5. Copper

Price: $15-30 per linear foot.

Never rusts or requires painting, it should last 100 years in any climate. Available in seamless or sections, and in three weights: 16, 18, and 20 ounces. Seams need to be soldered. The copper oxidizes to a matte brown in a few months and blue-green during decades. If you prefer gutters that don’t leave green stains, choose tin-zinc-platted or lead-coated copper.

  • A beautiful glow that eventually develops a greenish patina;
  • No need for painting;
  • Extremely durable in all types of weather;
  • Won’t warp or rust.

Pros

  • A beautiful glow that eventually develops a greenish patina;
  • No need for painting;
  • Extremely durable in all types of weather;
  • Won’t warp or rust.

Cons

  • Quite expensive.
Copper gutters


6. Wood

Price: $18-25 per linear foot.

Gutters cut from the wood used to be the norm a hundred years ago, though, with the more-affordable, mass-produced materials that are more weather resistant, this material has mostly dropped out of favor. Wood rain gutters made of cedar, fir, and redwood are still available. They’re most often used in older, historic houses, where staying true to the original building materials takes advantage over longevity.

Pros

  • Aesthetic and architecturally appealing;
  • Classic look;
  • Some woods have natural rot resistance.

Cons

  • Costly to install;
  • Require more maintenance.
  • Shorter lifespan.
Wood Gutters

What are the Best Materials for the Rain Gutters?

Ultimately, the material you choose will depend largely on your budget, but you should also consider your home’s architectural style. Aluminum and vinyl gutters are considered two of the best materials for the gutters since they’re cost-efficient, meaning they do their job well for what they cost. And they’re not over the top expensive either. Stainless steel, zinc, and copper gutters are excellent options too, but they come with a higher price tag.


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