Though they aren’t a part of a house that many people pay attention to (until they fail), gutters are one of the most important features that protect a house. They help direct rainwater away from home, preventing basement flooding and even erosion that can cause structural problems with the foundation. In fact, many banks won’t lend money for a house unless it has gutters.
There are two types of gutters to choose from: regular and seamless. Conventional gutters came in sections pieced together around the eaves of a home with couplings and connectors. Seamless gutters are custom cut to fit the home, eliminating the need for seams.
In this article, we’ll look at seamless versus regular gutters to determine which type is more durable, performs the best, and offers the most material options. We’ll also examine the cost difference between these two different types of gutters.
- Seamless Gutters vs Regular Gutters: Key Points
- What Are Gutters and Do You Need Them??
- What Are Traditional Gutters Made Of?
- What Are Seamless Gutters?
- What Are Seamless Gutters Made Of?
- Seamless Gutters vs Standard Gutters: What’s the Difference?
- Are Seamless Gutters Better?
- How Much Do Seamless Gutters Cost?
- Can You DIY Seamless Gutters?
- Do Gutters Add Value to a Home?
- Where to Buy Seamless Gutters?
Seamless Gutters vs Regular Gutters: Key Points
Is it worth it to invest in seamless gutters over cheaper traditional gutters? That comes down to several factors, including material, installation, durability, leakage, and cost.
|Material||Aluminum, steel, copper||Aluminum, steel, copper, vinyl|
|Installation||Requires Professionals||DIY or Pro installation|
|Durability||Most durable with no seams||Seams create weak points that negatively impact durability|
|Leakage||Few seams, so little leakage||Numerous seams must be maintained to prevent leaking|
|Cost||Expensive due to installation||Significantly cheaper if you do the installation|
What Are Gutters and Do You Need Them??
Not all homes have gutters attached to them, which begs the question, are they even necessary? Gutters can be a real pain. They get clogged with leaves and other debris, requiring one to shovel mucky dirt, debris, and occasionally dead animals. Out of the gutter while teetering on a ladder.
And, if you don’t clean them, that added weight will cause them to get bent out of shape, preventing them from working properly. Even when you do maintain them, many will eventually leak. With all the headaches that gutters cause, wouldn’t it just be easier not to have them at all?
In some cases, the answer to that question is yes. If your home is surrounded by concrete that directs rainwater to a drain, then gutters aren’t really necessary. They also may not be necessary if your roof has large overhangs that extend away from the walls of the home and deposit water onto a steep slope.
Aside from these exceptions, gutters are a necessity. Water that’s allowed to drain directly from the roof onto the ground will erode the soil near the base of the home, which is not good for the foundation. This could result in leaks in the basement or damage to the foundation.
Without gutters to guide the rainwater, a downpour could cause water to pool or stream in the yard, causing erosion.
The headache of maintaining gutters pales compared to the problems rainwater can cause if it’s allowed to flow freely around your home.
What Are Traditional Gutters Made Of?
Both copper and aluminum have a natural resistance to rust and they’re lightweight metals, making them ideal for use as gutters. Copper is about five times more expensive than aluminum! So it’s usually reserved for higher-end homes that want the aesthetics of copper gutters.
Copper is superior when it comes to durability, lasting an average of 60 years. Copper does require constant treatment to maintain its copper color or it will turn blue-green, which may or may not be appealing depending on your tastes.
Aluminum is perhaps the most common gutter material on the market due to its cheap cost and weather-resistant characteristics. Aluminum, which has a life of about 20 years, isn’t as strong as steel and will bend or warp under the stress of debris.
Steel gutters are the most durable. Steel gutters can handle the increased load without bending or warping, even when you fall behind on your gutter cleaning maintenance schedule. Steel is significantly heavier than other gutters and is therefore typically only found on larger industrial structures.
Steel gutters are typically galvanized, which gives them the same durability as aluminum, but a more industrial look. Painted steel gutters are also available.
Unlike metal gutters, vinyl gutters won’t rust or corrode. They’re also lightweight, which makes them easy to install, and the least expensive gutter type.
The downside of vinyl gutters is their durability. They tend to warp and sag if they become clogged. They can also dry out and crack due to exposure to extreme cold and the UV rays of the run.
What Are Seamless Gutters?
Seamless gutters are custom cut to fit a home’s eaves. This means they only have seams at corners and downspouts. Seamless gutters are rolled from a single piece of metal and cut using a machine mounted to a truck on site.
Traditional gutters come in 20-foot and 10-foot sections pieced together couplings and connectors. These seams must be sealed with silicone adhesive or soldered together to prevent water from leaking through them.
What Are Seamless Gutters Made Of?
Seamless gutters are made from most of the same materials as traditional gutters. They are available in aluminum, copper, or painted steel. However, seamless gutters do not come in vinyl.
Seamless Gutters vs Standard Gutters: What’s the Difference?
The best way to assess which type of gutters is right for your home is to look at the different characteristics of each. Material, durability, ease of installation, maintenance, and performance are a few of the factors you should consider when deciding between the two.
Seamless and traditional gutters both use the same types of material, except vinyl, which is limited to traditional gutters. These materials include aluminum, steel, and copper. Whereas traditional gutters are typically available in 10- to 20-foot sections of these materials, seamless gutters are custom cut to size.
Even though both seamless and traditional gutters consist of the same types of materials, seamless gutters win out in durability largely because they don’t have seams that can fail.
Over time the seals on the seams in traditional gutters will break, forcing you to climb up and repair them. These seams also present weak points where gutters can sag. Without these seams, seamless gutters will last longer before requiring replacement or repair.
The sections and connectors for traditional gutters are available at most home improvement stores, along with the downspouts, corners, and other parts required for installing gutters. This makes installing a traditional gutter doable for most DIYers.
Seamless gutters require a roll-forming machine that bends and cuts the gutters to the exact length of the home’s roof. Since installation requires a special machine, they must be installed professionally by a company that specializes in seamless gutters.
As any homeowner knows, gutters require yearly maintenance, which varies depending on how many trees around the home are dumping leaves into the gutter.
While both types of gutters will require this maintenance, seamless gutters can better pass debris through the gutter to the downspout because they do not have seams that can hold up and collect debris. These seams make traditional gutters more likely to clog.
In addition to clogging, the seams of a traditional gutter make it more likely to leak and thus more likely to need repairs. Since seamless gutters only have seams at corners and downspouts, they are much less likely to need repair.
There is a downside to seamless gutters when it comes to maintenance. If seamless gutters do become damaged, the entire length gutter will have to be replaced. If a traditional gutter is damaged, it can be replaced in sections.
And, since seamless gutters are custom, any repairs typically must be made by a pro, which can be expensive. With a traditional gutter, a capable DIYer can repair on the cheap.
Seamless gutters are less likely to leak, sag, or clog, giving them the edge when it comes to performance. That said, seamless gutters typically have the same capacity for collecting and funneling rainwater as traditional gutters. If one keeps a traditional gutter clean and well-maintained, it will collect and guide rainwater just as well as a seamless gutter.
Traditional gutters have noticeable seams and joints that can be unsightly on the side of a house. Seamless gutters offer a more streamlined look, making them less noticeable and more appealing.
With conventional gutters, you’re also limited to the white or brown gutters and the traditional K-shape most home improvement stores carry.
Seamless gutters, on the other hand, can come in a widener variety of colors and shapes that better match the style of the house. Seamless gutter machines can typically make various shapes, including K, half-round, box, and fascia.
Since seamless gutters require professional installation, they are more expensive to install than standard gutters. Even when using the professional installation for traditional gutters, the price is still lower (see below).
To cut the cost, install the gutters on your own to cut the cost per foot in half. There are some companies that will custom cut seamless gutters for your home and leave it to you to install them. If you have a few friends willing to help, this may be a good compromise on cost.
|Material||Cost per foot (traditional)||Cost per foot (seamless)|
Are Seamless Gutters Better?
Given the list of pros and cons above, it’s clear that seamless gutters are superior to traditional gutters. They require less maintenance, are more aesthetically appealing, and last longer than traditional gutters.
That said, since they require professional installation, they are much more of an investment than standard gutters. Given that standard gutters of the same material can last as long as seamless gutters if maintained, it may make sense for those on a budget to stick to traditional gutters.
How Much Do Seamless Gutters Cost?
The cost of seamless gutters depends on the type of material used and, of course, the size of the home. Aluminum gutters are the most affordable option, ranging from $6 to $13 per linear foot.
Since the average home requires about 160 linear feet of gutters, that translates to between $960 and $2,080 for gutters. Steel is comparative in cost to aluminum, while copper far exceeds both. A roof with 160 linear feet of copper gutters would cost between $2,720 and $5,120 for gutters.
|Gutter Material||Cost per linear foot|
Can You DIY Seamless Gutters?
Since seamless gutters require a large rolling machine that’s typically mounted to a truck, it’s not possible to complete a seamless gutter project on your own. That said, there are companies that will custom cut and deliver seamless gutters for you to install.
While these gutters will be more expensive than purchasing standard gutters at the home improvement center, this service does help mitigate the installation costs.
Do Gutters Add Value to a Home?
Though gutters may be one of the last things people look at when shopping for homes, they’re one of the most important parts of a house. This is due mainly to the fact that they are responsible for protecting a home’s structural integrity.
They guide rainwater safely away from home, preventing it from collecting around the foundation, potentially causing structural damage or flooding in the basement.
Gutters don’t add to the value of a home as other projects, such as a remodeled kitchen or bathroom, might because most homebuyers expect them to be there.
But while you may not be able to place a dollar figure on these unsung heroes, it’s telling that many lenders will not lend money on a property that does not have functioning gutters and downspouts.
The fact alone that the presence of gutters can alone determine whether a home sale will go through or not is reason enough to invest in them.
Where to Buy Seamless Gutters?
Seamless gutters aren’t a product you can buy at your local home improvement store. To purchase seamless gutters, you’ll need to contact a seamless gutter company near you. Some of these companies install seamless gutters while others only deliver them, manufacturing them on-site based on the size of your roof. This requires you to install them or hire someone to do the job. When shopping for a seamless gutter company, do a little research.
Like any other professional service, not all are the same quality, so look for reviews, references, or referrals to help you choose the right one.
It’s tough to argue that seamless gutters aren’t the superior of the two options. Their seamless design makes them more durable and less likely to leak. Thus, they require less maintenance. They also have a streamlined look that doesn’t detract from the aesthetics of your house.
Though seamless gutters may be superior, that doesn’t mean that they’re the right choice for everyone. Since seamless gutters are custom-made and usually require professional installation, they cost significantly more than installing your conventional gutters. And though they may require less maintenance, when a seamless gutter does require repair, it’s not something you can typically do yourself.
If seamless gutters fit your budget, they’re probably worth the investment. If they’re too far of a stretch, traditional gutters will also do the job.