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Practical Gutter Upgrades

Gutters are a vital part of the roofing system; they help to efficiently drain water off the roof, into the downspouts and away from the house. Without totally replacing the gutters, there are practical gutter upgrades you can make to increase curb appeal, functionality and longevity.

Gutter Outlets

A gutter outlet, or drop outlet, connects the downspout to the gutter system. If outlets are worn, cracked, warped or rusting, their efficiency is compromised. Where downspouts have been improperly installed by inserting the downpipe directly into the gutter section, there might be no outlet at all. Replacing old outlets, especially if they are made of vinyl (shortest lifespan), can improve water expulsion.

There are several different kinds and shapes of gutter outlets. Even if the outlets are made of aluminum or another type of metal, swapping out the existing outlets for a funnel outlet, for example, will allow higher volumes of rainwater to flow through the system.

Larger Downspouts

Standard 5-inch gutter systems are usually paired with 2 x 3-inch downspouts. Where gutters consistently overflow but the system is free of clogs, homeowners might think they need wider, 6-inch gutters. But that might not be the case. By replacing 2 x 3-inch downpipes with 3 x 4-inch downspouts, a gutter system can be upgraded at a fraction of the cost it would take to replace it with 6-inch gutters.

Replace Brackets

Brackets or hangers hold the gutter sections in place, securing them to the fascia and prevent the sections of downpipe from shifting around. There are a variety of brackets for both gutters and downspouts, ranging from unadorned to very detailed. Replacing plain brackets with more decorative ones refreshes the appearance of the gutter system and improves curb appeal.

Depending on the length of the gutter run, brackets or hangers should be spaced two to three feet apart to provide maximum support. Adding more brackets to a gutter system with less than the recommended number is a good way to upgrade a system that might not be in trouble now, but why take a chance?

Leaf Protection

A leaf protection system is designed to keep gutters free of debris, preventing clogs from forming. Do your homework – there are many different products out there; select one that fits your home’s style and is compatible with your existing gutter system. Especially if you have a lot of trees growing near your house, gutter guards can greatly improve the functionality of the gutter system.

Tips for Buying Seamless Gutters

Seamless gutters are a popular choice with homeowners because they have a smooth appearance and are low maintenance. They are fabricated on site from a continuous length of metal, reducing the number of seams and places leaks can form. Use these tips to get the most out of your new seamless gutter system.

Gutter Installation Process

Take your time finding a good contractor that will reliably guide you through the gutter installation process from start to finish. When selecting a contractor, things to avoid include:

  • someone who appears to have their own agenda (pushing certain products, overselling, etc.)
  • a quote that’s too high
  • a quote that’s too low
  • not given a firm time frame for when the gutters will be installed

Get at least three estimates. A gutter installation company will make suggestions and give advice regarding the specific details of the seamless gutter system you want to buy. But before asking for an estimate, decide on the basics first, such as gutter width, profile, gutter material, and colour.

Materials

Seamless gutters, also known as continuous gutters, are manufactured from metals such as aluminum, copper, and steel. They come in different gauges or thicknesses. While higher gauges of metal are usually more expensive, they also tend to last longer and to be stronger than the same metal of a lower gauge.

Colour

Gutter systems made from copper or galvanized steel typically aren’t available in other colours (the gutter material is the colour). Seamless aluminum gutters are made from feeding flat aluminum on a coil into a gutter machine. A gutter installation company typically offers a range of colours that will complement your home’s exterior.

Cost

The cost of seamless gutters is generally based on how many linear feet of guttering needed. Other factors that help determine the total cost are:

  • type of gutter material used
  • gutter width – 6” gutters are more expensive than 5”
  • the number of storeys (height of your home)
  • if the roof has multiple levels
  • two or more downspouts

K-Style Gutters for Your Home

During the gutter-buying process, there are several factors a homeowner must consider in order to get the right gutter system for their home. The shape of the gutters or the gutter profile is one of those major decisions. For residential applications, K-style gutters are the most popular for several practical reasons.

Standardized Profiles

There is a differing opinion on why they are called K-style. Majority rule claims it’s because the shape loosely mimics the letter K; others in the industry state it reflects back to when gutter profiles slowly became standardized in the 1970s. A range of channeled gutters that could be formed on factory or portable (on site) gutter machines were designated with letters of the alphabet: “K” became the most popular. Who knows? Both could be true.

Characteristics

When viewing the gutter from the side, starting from the bottom, the outer edge consists of a short, straight line, followed by two curves (opposing), then followed by another short straight line to form the top or lip of the gutter.

A K-style gutter system typically channels more water than some other gutter profile systems, including half-round.

Because the shape is comprised of multiple bends, it makes the metal stronger and more resistant to damage by impact.

Versatility

K-style gutters, also known as OG (for Old Gothic) or ogee (meaning double curve), resemble the crown molding found on interior walls adjacent to the ceiling. While it might seem that a K-style gutter system would be better suited to traditional and heritage architectural style homes, just the opposite is true. In today’s market, where there are more material and colour choices, K-style gutters are able to complement a wide range of residential styles from Revival to Craftsman to Modern.

Choice of Materials

K-style gutters are available in a number of material choices, including aluminum, galvanized steel, and copper. K-style aluminum gutters are low maintenance, lightweight, and economical. A galvanized steel k-style gutters system is durable, strong and corrosion-resistant. Copper k-style gutters are long-lasting, beautiful to look at, and strong.

Advantages

Regardless of what type of metal is chosen for the gutter system, there are definite advantages to K-style gutters. These include:

  • channels more water per linear foot than other types of gutter profiles
  • since it’s the most popular gutter profile, the seamless option is readily available
  • versatile, classic shape that resembles crown moulding
  • possesses a flat back, which makes it easier to attach directly to fascia

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.

Gutters and Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is the impression your property gives a passerby from the street. While most homeowners wouldn’t consider gutters a focal point, they are noticeable whether by design or accident. Here are some ways gutters can improve a home’s exterior and increase curb appeal.

Appearance

Plan on keeping the gutter system as new looking as possible. Tiger striping or algae/moss/mildew growth detracts from the overall appearance of the gutters. Moss in the gutter channel retains water, weighing the gutter system down. Dented downspouts often encourage debris build-up.

If the gutters are 10 or more years old, consider replacing them at the same time you’re getting a new roof or having the house painted. Exterior finishing upgrades can emphasize flaws and signs of aging in your current gutter system, reducing curb appeal and defeating the purpose of the home improvements.

For that added level of curb appeal, when buying new gutters, choose a colour to complement existing architectural elements like the roof, entry door or window trim.

Gutter Material

Seamless gutters can give a home exterior a streamlined sleekness. They have fewer seams than sectional gutters, so lines tend to appear smoother and uninterrupted.

Copper gutters standout because of their timeless appearance. A copper gutter system is enhanced by the patina it develops over a period of time, the color ranging from grey-green to silver to green to blue-green.

As a gutter material, galvanized steel is a good choice for boosting curb appeal. It is durable, won’t rust and has a long-lasting shine.

Shape

The gutter profile or shape defines the gutter system, giving it character and uniqueness. A custom gutter profile is either designed specifically for your home or is offered as a limited product line by a specific manufacturer.

But you don’t need to invest in a custom gutter profile in order to make your home’s exterior more attractive. Standard profiles including K-style, crown mould, and half-round can be just as effective in increasing curb appeal when selected in a bold colour or eye-catching gutter material.

Being Invisible

For some homeowners, curb appeal would be greatly improved if they didn’t have to have gutters at all. Built-in gutters would be the next best thing. This type of gutter system can’t be seen from the street. Instead of being attached to the fascia, built-in or hidden gutters are integrated into the roof’s structure.

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.

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.

Tips for Buying Vinyl Gutters

Vinyl gutters are popular with homeowners for several reasons: they are relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to maintain. A vinyl gutter system won’t rust, be easily damaged or need painting. While affordability makes them very attractive, if you’re considering installing vinyl gutters on your home, here are some tips to keep in mind.

DIY: Vinyl as a gutter material is ideal for the person who enjoys do-it-yourself projects. Most gutter installation companies don’t install vinyl gutters. But do your homework – while vinyl gutters are generally the least expensive per linear foot, be aware of the total cost of your DIY project after adding in the price of brackets, end caps, hangers, downspouts, etc.

Fire resistance: Of all of the gutter materials on the market, vinyl is the least fire resistant.

Not seamless: Vinyl gutters are only available in 10-foot sections; there are no seamless options. If you would like to achieve a smooth, professional appearance for your home exterior with seamless aluminum gutters, they will need to be installed by a licensed gutter contractor.

More joints: Because a vinyl gutter system is assembled from sections, there will be joints or seams every 10 feet. The more seams, the more places there are for leaks to form.

Not standard sizes: While some manufacturers do offer a standard 5-inch profile, many don’t. Since typical vinyl gutters and downspouts are smaller in size, they channel less water. In a region like the Lower Mainland that receives high volumes of rain, regular residential size aluminum gutters (either 5-inch or 6-inch) might be a better choice.

Ancillary buildings: For ancillary buildings on your property such as a garden shed, detached garage or greenhouse, vinyl gutters could be the ideal solution. Since a vinyl gutter system can be slightly smaller than standard gutters, sections can be easily customized to fit the eaves of an outbuilding.

Gutters made of Copper

Image credit: Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac/Flikr Creative Commons

Image credit: Aiko, Thomas & Juliette+Isaac/Flikr Creative Commons


Gutters made of copper give a home’s exterior a distinctive appearance that increases both the curb appeal and resale value of the property. While copper gutters are typically more expensive than gutter systems made from other types of materials, many homeowners consider it worth the additional cost. Other appealing aspects include, the patina copper develops over time; they’re long-lasting; and require minimum upkeep. Copper gutters can turn your home into a showpiece: explore which kind of copper guttering is right for you.

Seamless Copper Gutters

Like seamless aluminum gutters, seamless copper gutters must be installed by a professional. They are fashioned from one piece of metal, which is why they have no seams, except for where gutter sections are joined at the corners. Because they have no seams, a person looking at the gutters sees smooth lines, increasing the aesthetics of your home’s exterior. Fewer seams reduces the number of potential leaks and places where debris can become trapped.

Copper Gutter Profiles

The shape of the outside of a gutter section is referred to as the gutter profile. Common profiles for copper gutters are K-style, half-round, crown moulding and box style. The gutter profile contributes to the overall personality of a home’s exterior. Since copper is a malleable metal, it is an ideal gutter material for a custom profile. Giving some thought to the shape of your gutter system allows a homeowner the flexibility to create a unique design that will make the home stand out.

European Copper Gutters

European copper gutters add timeless elegance to any architectural style of house. European gutters are a complete system and generally cannot be mixed and matched with other gutter systems made of copper. While the distinctive profile of euro-gutters is half-round, the bead will face outward rather than inward like they do on standard half-round gutter sections. European gutters are fastened into place with half-round hangers, a decorative detail that enhances the aesthetic appeal of euro-gutters.