How to choose rain gutters for your home

When do you think about rain gutters? When it’s too late…when water is cascading down the front of your house or a miniature lake is forming in the back yard. Normally, gutters will last from 10 to 15 years if they are cleaned out often – at least once or twice a year, unless  your home is surrounded by trees. Then it will be necessary to clean them out more often.

But how do you know what’s the best type of gutter for your home? Your choice is going to depend on a number of factors. Talking in detail to a professional in your area will give you a better idea of what your specific choices are, but here are some basic guidelines.

Material is the first important factor to consider. The price, color and weight of different materials will determine your ultimate choice. Most gutters are made from aluminum, copper, steel or vinyl. Aluminum is by far the most common material because it is light and it does not corrode. Stronger gutter choices are available, but there’s always a trade-off. Galvanized steel gutters coated with zinc are much stronger, but they are much more likely to rust than aluminum. If style is what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with copper. They are beautiful, but a much more costly option.

This brings up another choice: color. If you like the look of copper and you can afford them, they are the perfect choice. They don’t blend into a home; they stand out and add dimension and classiness. If you’d rather have something that matches the color of your home, vinyl is a great choice. It comes in so many colors, you’re sure to find one that matches the color of your current vinyl siding. Vinyl gutters will need to be replaced more frequently than metal gutters, but it blends in seamlessly with existing vinyl siding.

Shape is another criterion which homeowners have to consider. Half-round gutters are not as popular as they have been since they clog easily, giving way to the more popular K-style, which has the look of crown molding. Yet another popular shape is the fascia gutter, which hides edges and rafters, giving everything a smooth appearance. Again, personal preference will prevail when it comes to shape.

The gutter size can be four, five or six inches in diameter. Downspouts, too, come in different sizes. Trees surrounding your home will determine how large your gutters and downspout should be. Larger systems are more expensive, naturally, but they will save money in the long run because they won’t need to be replaced as often.

Finally, consider if you’d like to install the gutters yourself or have a professional do it. Do-it-yourself constructions come in long sections that easily snap together, which makes it easy for first-timers, but this design sometimes leaks sooner than professionally installed types. Some professional gutter installation companies do on-site seamless gutter systems where pieces of gutter are molded together so there is no chance of leakage.