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and maintenance of gutters and siding in the Vancouver Lower Mainland.

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Cleaning the Gutters in the Fall is Important

Gutter professionals typically advise cleaning the gutters twice a year. Cleaning a gutter system annually is preferable to not cleaning it at all. But choose the “right” season: there are several compelling reasons why it’s important to clean gutters in the fall.

Not Just Leaves

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture dictate when trees shed their leaves. A fall that is warm and mild will see the leaves stay on the trees anywhere from one to three weeks longer, while an autumn that is cold and dry will cause the trees to shed one to three weeks earlier.

Leaves are light, so how much of a threat can they be? But leaves that land in the gutters are generally mixed with twigs, dirt, miscellaneous objects, and bits of organic matter. Add water from rainfall or a periodic storm: the result can be clogged gutters that are heavy, putting additional stress on the fascia.

If pine trees grow close to the house, needles can also enter the gutter system. While they appear green year-round, pine trees shed their needles over a period of weeks rather than all at once like deciduous trees. When you have both types of trees on your property, try to clean the gutters as close to the end of the fall as possible.

In From the Cold

Roof overhangs and gutters filled with leaves and other organic materials look inviting to animals wanting to come in from the cold. Common winter nesters in the Lower Mainland include rodents, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. They can burrow into the attic space, and damage roof tiles, siding, and downspouts as they travel back and forth from nest to food source.

Prepping for Winter

Cleaning the gutters in the fall is an important step to prepping your home exterior for winter. Keeping the gutter system free of debris ensures that water can freely flow through the gutter channel to the downpipes. Fall gutter cleaning should also include an inspection of seams and joints, nails and fastens holding the gutter system in place, and damaged gutter sections that might not make it until spring.

Advantages of Maintaining Your Gutters

Neglected gutters can cause unwanted problems. Most homeowners know that gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year (spring and fall). It’s a chore no one really wants to do. So, as we head further into gutter cleaning season, let MHC Gutters remind you of the advantages of maintaining your gutter system throughout the year.

Curb Appeal

The saying “Appearance is everything” is very true when it comes to gutters. Standard gutters hang from the fascia and therefore are noticeable. A gutter system that is streaked, dented, worn, faded or sagging detracts from your home’s curb appeal and can make your home unwelcoming.

Improve Functionality

There is no denying that Vancouver gutters get a lot of rain. When a gutter system is cluttered with debris or has moss growing in the gutter channel, unimpeded water flow to the downspout is not possible. Maintaining your gutters and keeping them free of clogs improves functionality. Water that doesn’t drain properly from the gutter system can lead to a number of problems including:

  • standing water in the gutter channel (adds weight)
  • pooling water around the downspouts (flooding basement)
  • overflowing gutters (landscape erosion)

Increase Life Span

Regardless of the material gutters are made of, keeping them well-maintained increases their life span. When a gutter system is free of debris, it minimizes potential damage to gutter sections and downpipes. A gutter system that leaks, overflows, or doesn’t drain properly invites moisture-related problems such as mold, mildew and foundation damage.

Avoid Expensive Costs

Regularly maintaining gutters through scheduled gutter cleanings and periodic inspections are excellent preventive medicine. Making repairs, stopping leaks, and doing those other little tweaks that keep a gutter system running smoothly prevent problems from escalating and having to spend money to fix them.

Unwanted Guests

Don’t invite unwanted guests. Gutters filled with leaves, twigs, and other types of organic residue are attractive to pests like wasps, bees, birds, and squirrels looking for a home.

How Gutters Change the Look of Your Home

Gutters manage rainwater, protecting the home’s exterior from water damage. Standard gutters attach to the fascia and are visible to the eye. This means gutters also have an aesthetic purpose. Whether you’re buying new in the near future or you plan to keep the current gutters for a while longer, here are some subtle ways a gutter system can impact the appearance of your home.

Clean Lines

The shape or profile of the gutter contributes to the overall personality of your home. Half-round copper gutters make a different statement than K-style aluminum gutters. While both profiles possess simple, clean lines, the visual impact of curved versus straight is individual. K-style and half-round are the two most common gutter profiles, but there is a wide range of profiles available, and each one will add or subtract from a home’s exterior.

Well Maintained

If gutters are not well maintained, they detract from your home’s curb appeal. Curb appeal isn’t just for other people; you have to enter and exit your property on a daily basis. Returning home to streaked gutters filled with twigs, leaves, and debris can adversely impact the mental and physical well-being of you and your family.

Colour Coordinated

Don’t let your chromophobia (fear of colour) get the best of you. When replacing the gutters, take time to select the best colour that will complement the other exterior finishing elements such as the roof, trim (windows and doors), and soffit and fascia. The colour of the gutter system can be used to:

  • make the gutters appear as an extension of the roof (complementary colour)
  • make the gutters a noticeable boundary between the gutter system and the roof (contrasting colour)
  • creates visual harmony

Focal Point

While most people shy away from making the gutters standing out, there are some good reasons for choosing the gutter system to be a focal point. Opting to paint or select a contrasting colour from the rest of the exterior expresses your individuality, accentuates the architectural style of the house, and adds a layer of visual interest to the home’s exterior.

Why Invest in European Gutters?

European gutters are distinctive, beautiful to look at yet highly functional. Manufactured for both commercial and residential buildings, a euro-style gutter system will complement most architectural styles. While definitely high-end, there are some very good reasons to invest in European gutters.

Gutter Profile

European gutters have a distinct profile that is timeless yet contemporary. The most popular shape used on over eighty percent of North American homes is the K-style gutter profile. Unlike standard gutters, a euro gutter system is half-round, with the bead turned outward, increasing visual impact and curb appeal.

A typical European gutter profile is deeper than standard half-round gutters, making it capable of handling comparable volumes of water to K-style gutters.

Longevity

Although it might seem that our climate is one long rainy season, the lower mainland actually experiences significant climatic fluctuations, anything from severe windstorms to temperatures that dip below freezing to random bouts of heavy hail. Because European gutters are generally made from heavier gauge metals, they are durable and long lasting, able to withstand the elements.

Different Types of Euro Gutters

Manufacturers of euro gutters offer a number of options for the homeowner looking to invest in a European gutter system. When deciding what will best protect your home, consider the amount of local annual rainfall, the thickness of the gutter material, the architectural style of your home, and curb appeal/resale value.

Sectional: Sectional gutters are available in pre-cut lengths, typically 10-foot sections, but can vary from one manufacturer to another. When installed, they are soldered together. Technically, the seams can be seen, but are usually hidden be half-round brackets.

Seamless: Seamless half-round European gutters are manufactured on site at the time of installation, and only have seams in the corners of the gutter system. When viewing the gutter system from the ground, no joints are visible, creating a smooth expanse that is pleasing to the eye.

Solderless: Fabricated to fit to together when installed, solderless European gutters are sectional but have the appearance of a seamless gutter system.

Materials for European Gutters

While copper is certainly the most popular euro gutter material, European style gutters are available in a variety of different metals, including thick-gauge aluminum, galvanized steel, and zinc.Steel is becoming more popular due to its strength. Strong and corrosion-resistant, galvalume gutters are made of steel and coated with a mixture of zinc and aluminum.

Steel is becoming more popular due to its strength. Also gaining in popularity, galvalume gutters are made of steel and coated with a mixture of zinc and aluminum.

Faux Copper Gutters

Copper gutters have a distinctive curb appeal that puts them in a category all their own. If you’ve always admired the appearance of a copper gutter system, but it’s just not in your budget, here are some alternatives to achieving the look you want at half the cost.

Spray Paint

Using spray paint to create faux copper gutters is one way to get a real copper look. When choosing a type of spray paint, consider the end result. A copper metallic spray paint contains metal pigments that will oxidize (the colour becomes darker over time). There are non-metallic copper spray paint colours available. While they mimic the different shades of copper’s patina aging process, they stay the same colour as when first applied.

Before applying spray paint to aluminum gutters, consider the following:

  • As with any painting project, you’ll need the appropriate primer.
  • Results can be inconsistent due to how long the nozzle is depressed, variations in thickness, the slightest movement of air when applying the paint, etc.
  • There will be overspray (no matter how well you tape off the area).
  • Depending on where you live, it could flake off sooner than later.

Liquid Paint

Another paint option is a can of liquid paint. It goes on truer to colour and any leftover paint can be used for touch ups. As with spray paint, liquid paint for copper-looking gutters is available with or without copper particles. Copper-containing paint will gradually turn into a blue-green patina. But you can speed up the process by applying a patina medium or aging solution.

It’s Already Painted

Some manufacturers of sectional steel and aluminum gutters offer products designed to imitate copper gutters. The gutter colour is typically baked on during the manufacturing process. Faux copper gutter finishes range from new copper (very shiny) to darkening copper (shades of brown) to patinated copper (blue-green or green-blue).

Eco-Friendly Gutter Systems

Eco-friendly gutter systems are ones manufactured from sustainable recycled materials like aluminum, steel or copper. Popular perception of green living and environmentally friendly products is that they are more expensive and time-consuming. But actually, the opposite is true. Sustainable gutters generally have a longer lifespan.

Being Eco-Friendly

When talking about gutters systems, what does eco-friendly really mean? Aluminum gutters, copper gutters and steel gutters made from new or recycled metals are eco-friendly because new materials can be recycled and recycled materials can be recycled again. Earth-friendly gutters require fewer resources to maintain them.

Advantages of Eco-Friendly Gutters

Gutters are designed to channel water off the roof then away from the foundation of a building. While properly functioning gutters don’t hold water, they aren’t immune to the weight of rainwater and debris being channeled through them over time. Advantages of eco-friendly gutters include:

  • durability – can withstand changing weather conditions; resist corrosion and moisture
  • have a low carbon footprint – because metal gutters are durable and recyclable, materials are kept out of landfills longer
  • low maintenance – reducing the number of times a gutter system needs maintaining means less water and cleaning solutions are being used

Eco-Friendly Gutter Buying Tips

Metal gutter systems such as aluminum gutters or copper gutters might seem more expensive but are cost-effective in the long run due to their being strong, durable and low maintenance. When purchasing new gutters with greener options in mind consider the following:

  • invest in the highest grade of metal you can afford
  • even if you’re an avid do-it-yourselfer, hiring a reputable contractor will help ensure longevity and maximum functionality
  • seamless instead of sectional – sectional aluminum gutters, copper gutters and steel gutters have more seams (more places to develop leaks)

Existing Gutters

What if you don’t have any plans to buy new gutters? They are ways to make an existing gutter system more eco-friendly.

Leaf protection: Install gutter guards or some other type of leaf protection to decrease the amount of debris entering the gutters.

Cleaning solutions: Choose earth-friendly products when cleaning your home’s exterior.

Rain barrels: Add a rain barrel or tank to collect water that can be used to water (inedible) parts or your garden.

Maximizing downspouts: Consider using a downspout drainage pipe (check before digging) or a downspout extension that directs water from the gutter system to a landscaped area.

How to Compare Gutter Installation Estimates

If new gutters are on your home improvements list for 2017, you will probably hire a gutter professional. After you’ve received free estimates from at least three contractors, you’ll be deciding on which exterior finishing company to hire. Knowing how to compare gutter installation estimates will help you make the best decision for you and your home.

Your Budget

Assigning a monetary limit to your home improvement project will be instrumental in deciding where you want to spend your money: for example, seamless gutters vs. sectional or decorative brackets vs. functional fasteners. An estimate is the contractor’s educated guess on what your gutter installation will cost from start to finish. Remember to budget for over costs; at least 15% over the total cost outlined in the estimate. If a gutter installation estimate exceeds your budget bottom line, you could probably skip this particular contractor.

Apples with Apples

Break down each estimate into general sections such as the contractor, materials, labour, and warranties. A gutter installation company that’s been in business for 25 years might be able to offer grade-A materials over a contractor new to the area because the more established person receives better pricing from their long-term vendors.

If you’re not sure what kind of gutters you want, you might ask one contractor for an estimate for an aluminum gutter system and another gutter professional for a free estimate for copper gutters. Since copper is the more expensive material of the two, get at least two other copper guttering estimates in order to decide which contractor can give you the best deal.

What’s Being Offered

Don’t assume that three estimates for aluminum gutters are equal in terms of gauge of metal, warranty or labour costs. Ask questions if something is not clear to you

Also, examine differences in services. Contractor A offers warranties for both materials and workmanship while Contractor B’s warranty only cover the installation and not the materials; Contractor B will remove and dispose of the old gutter system, while another company doesn’t. Prioritize what’s important to you before deciding on who will be hired.

Home Exterior Design Trends 2017

Your home is a big investment. Trends come and go but you want maximum curb appeal that expresses your unique style and personality without the threat of becoming quickly outdated. With these home exterior design trends for 2017, your home will never go out of style.

Low Maintenance Materials

Exterior finishing elements should be low maintenance. Expect to see cement fiber siding, seamless aluminum gutters, hidden gutters, and fiberglass doors as emerging trends. Any home exterior products that require minimum time expenditure for upkeep, are durable and are environmentally friendly, will be popular choices in the New Year.

Natural Elements

In the upcoming year, homebuyers and homeowners will see more natural elements inspired by the Craftsman architectural style. Tapered wood porch columns stationed on stone bases, open gable porches, and cedar siding, particularly shingles, are making a comeback.

Nothing outshines copper gutters for instant curb appeal. And they check all the right boxes – they’re sustainable, durable, and relatively low-maintenance.

In addition to being both natural and sustainable materials, brick and stone are low-maintenance, giving a home’s exterior an enduring and timeless appearance. The upcoming trend is brick and stone being used together, for example, a brick exterior mixed with stone wainscoting.

Metal toned materials like copper gutters, pewter door handles, and brass mailboxes or mail slots boost curb appeal and expresses your personal style.

Environmentally Conscious

High on the trend-setting list for 2017 are sustainable materials. A product is considered sustainable if its life cycle (extraction, fabrication, disposal) is not harmful to people and the environment.

Transom windows are typically a smaller set of windows placed above regular windows or an entry door. While they were often added as a decorative detail, in today’s housing market, transom windows are being used to increase the amount of light in a room and improve ventilation.

In 2017, landscaping will be more eco-friendly and low-maintenance. The emphasis will be on landscape design that minimizes resources used to maintain a garden, such as planting perennials, reducing lawn size, and strategically planted trees to control shade and light.

Tips for Buying Copper Gutters

Copper gutters are undeniably the most expensive type of guttering on the market. But their distinctive appearance, 50-year plus lifespan, and curb appeal factor make them worth it. If you want a home exterior with an elegant, timeless look, use these handy tips for buying a copper gutter system that will last for as long as you own your home.

Material Quality and Colour

The quality of copper can vary from one manufacturer to another. Lower grades of copper will oxide (turn green) faster. Also keep in mind, if you intend on purchasing seamless copper gutters, depending on the type of machine, a gutter installation company might use thinner metal sheets. The thicker the copper sheet, the stronger the copper gutters will be.

Spoiler alert! They won’t stay shiny. Copper gutters will start to develop a patina (oxidization process) after one to two months of exposure to the elements. If you are attracted to a copper gutter system because of its warm tones and want it to stay that way, an anti-oxidant coating will have to be applied after the gutters have been installed.

Half-Round or K-Style

A gutter profile defines the look and feel of the gutters and gives your home’s exterior its personality and character. When deciding between half-round European copper gutters or K-style copper gutters, choose a gutter profile that will complement the architectural style of the house. A half-round gutter system has a simple, smooth classic shape, while a K-style gutter profile resembles traditional crown moulding.

Sectional or Seamless

Sectional copper gutters are cut into sections which are then soldered together and sealed upon installation. When viewing the gutter system from the ground, the seams are visible. Some homeowners prefer seamless copper gutters because they are fabricated from one continuous metal sheet, reducing the number of seams the eye sees and the number of places where leaks can form.

Accessorizing

For added curb appeal, give some attention to those finishing touches that can make copper gutters really stand out. European copper gutters are available with a variety of options that include decorative half-round hangers, downspout brackets, and detailed conductor boxes or leader heads.

Things You Need to Know Before Buying Gutters

Gutters are an important investment. They should look good, add value to your property, and last for as long as you own your home. But even before you decide on details like type of material, size, and shape, there are other things you should consider prior to purchasing a new gutter system.

Annual Rainfall

While it might seem like the Lower Mainland gets a lot of rain, it’s good to know the specifics. Before buying gutters, look up the annual rainfall for the past ten years. This will give you an indication of the consistency of the amount of rain per year that falls in your local area. In addition to the average annual rainfall for a particular time frame, a gutter contractor will also need to know the square footage of the roof. The size of the gutters and downspouts will be based on the volume of water the gutter system can be expected to handle.

Codes or Regulations

When having new gutters installed, you might be required to meet certain building codes, either municipal or provincial. If you live in a certain type of community or own a historic home, ensure all applicable regulations will be met.

Appearance

Give some thought to how you want the gutters to look: paying attention to visual impact improves curb appeal and increases property values. Factors governing the overall appearance of a gutter system include:

  • colour choice
  • certain combinations – for example, a large gutter size paired with an intricate gutter profile might have a negative effect on the home’s exterior
  • whether the gutter installation is seamless or sectional

Warranty

Is a warranty is included? The two main kinds of warranty applicable to a gutter installation are product and workmanship. When a manufacturer (product) offers different options, choose a lifetime warranty that is transferable to the new homeowner should you have to sell your house.