Rain Gutters Shopping Guide: Choosing the Best Rain Gutters for Your Home
Whether you're adding rain gutters to your new home or replacing an old gutter system, you've got to know what to get and what's right for you. That's where this guide comes in. We'll take you through the choices you need to make to select the gutter that's right for you.
How Much Rain Do You Get?
The first question to ask for any gutter system is what it actually has to do. A house in Mesa is going to have very different needs from a house in Bangor. Find out the average rainfall in your area, and also calculate the square footage of your roof. That will tell you how much water you get, and how much surface area you'll have to drain. The more water you get, the larger the gutter and downspouts you'll need. Gutters come in 5,6 and 7 inch wide varieties, and each inch adds price, so do your math carefully!
What Are the Building Codes?
After you know what you need, know what you have to get according to the law. Local and state building codes are very clear on what's needed for a gutter to pass inspection. Often you'll find that legal requirements and what you think you need will be very close, but always check the law. For example, historical structures may require copper gutters.
Sectional Versus Seamless Rain Gutters
There are two methods of getting gutters put up. Sectional gutters are exactly what they sound like; sections of material that you weld together and mount. Sectional gutters are cheaper, as you just buy the material and, if you want to, you can do it yourself. The trade-off is that it'll take more time, as you have to weld the sections together, and there are more points where the gutter can leak or break. Seamless gutters, on the other hand, have fewer welds, only at the corners and downspouts. They're stronger, as they're one consistent piece of material, and less likely to break or leak. On the other hand, they're expensive; you can only have them installed by a seamless gutter contractor with a specialized machine.
Rain Gutters: Materials
Once you know what method you're using, look at the materials available. Roughly in order of price, gutters come in vinyl, plastic, galvanized steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, and stainless steel. Each has their benefits and drawbacks; for example, galvanized steel is strong and cheap, but will eventually rust through no matter how well you coat it. Stainless steel is strong and will never rust, but will likely cost you thousands of dollars to install.
Nor are all rain gutters ideal for all situations. Vinyl, for example, is extremely durable, but will need special coating not to break down when exposed to the sun, and becomes brittle at cold temperatures.
The best thing to do is choose the most durable material you can afford, in the thickest size it comes in.