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Plastic guard over new dark grey plastic rain gutter on asphalt shingles roof at shallow depth of field.

How To Choose the Best Gutters for Your Home (2024 Guide)

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Author Icon By Mike Miller Updated 01/22/2024

Installing the best gutters for your home’s drainage system keeps other essential home systems free from rain runoff. This prevents water damage and other expensive issues, such as foundation shifting, soil erosion, and mold growth. 
Choosing the right gutters for your home requires you to consider material, design, and size options. Factors such as your home’s location, surrounding foliage, levels of rainfall, and roof material all affect the performance of your gutters. We’ll review everything you need to know about how to choose the best gutters for your home, how much installation can cost, and how add-ons such as gutter guards can simplify regular gutter maintenance.

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What Homeowners Need To Know About Gutters Before Installing Them

Understanding gutter systems and how they work will help you choose the best gutters for your home. Before installing gutters, familiarize yourself with the signs your gutters need to be replaced and other important considerations. 

Gutters work by catching rain runoff, funneling it through downspouts, and directing it away from your home’s foundation. A gutter system is made up of the following components:
Sections: Sections are the main parts of the gutter into which rainwater falls.
Connectors: Also called joiners, these pieces connect sections together. 
Downspouts: Downspouts are vertical pipe-like sections that funnel water to the ground or onto splash blocks. 
Downspout extenders: These long, bendable pipe-like extensions to downspouts can transport water away from the foundation and into receptacles, such as rain barrels or irrigation systems.
Splash blocks: These small blocks sit at the base of downspouts and disperse water away from your foundation.
Drop outlets: These funnels connect to downspouts.
End caps: End caps sit at the end of your gutters and prevent water from flowing out.
Inside/outside corners: Also called miters, these right-angled pieces fit into the corners and valleys of your roofline.
Most homes require gutter systems, but there are some circumstances in which you don’t need gutters or could use an alternative system. For example, if your landscape gradation promotes natural drainage or you live in a climate with limited rainfall, you may not need gutters.
Common alternatives to gutter systems include rain chains, french drains, and drip paths. These options function similarly to gutters but typically cannot handle heavy rainfall and are prone to overflowing. This makes them a poor substitute for gutters in most situations.
It may be time to replace your gutters if you’re noticing any of the following signs:
Collapsed gutter sections
Mold, fungus, or algae growing on sections
Multiple leaks, cracks, or gaps in gutters
Overt sagging of multiple gutter sections
Pooling water around your foundation 
Rust
Streaks along siding
Water damage in your home
While gutters wear down over time, not all gutter damage warrants a full replacement. Examples of quick repairs include replacing a bad seal, a sagging hanger, or a cracked gutter section.

What Do You Need To Consider When Choosing Gutters?

Multiple factors impact a gutter system’s cost and performance, from the gutters’ materials, design, and dimensions to your home’s climate. 

Before choosing a gutter installer, we recommend you consider hiring a professional home or roof inspector. Investing in an early home inspection allows you to identify potential problems beforehand and budget for your installation. 

Next, consider the factors that have the biggest impact on the cost of your system: gutter materials, design, and size. We’ll break down these factors in detail below.

Gutter Materials

Gutters can be made of various materials, each with its own benefits and downsides. The more expensive a material, the longer it lasts and the better it performs. For example, vinyl or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) gutters are the least expensive on the market, but they have a shorter lifespan and are more fragile than higher-quality options. Metal options such as copper and zinc can last for decades and withstand harsh weather conditions but cost thousands of dollars. 

Here’s a more extensive look at the most common gutter materials. 

Vinyl Gutters

Vinyl guards are lightweight, easy to work with, and cost-effective. They can come in various colors. These qualities make them extremely popular for DIY projects because the material is more user-friendly.

The biggest downside to vinyl gutters is their durability. PVC and vinyl are thin and fragile, making them prone to dislodging, snapping, or cracking when hit by tree limbs or hail. They can warp when exposed to extreme heat and get blown away by high winds. These gutters have the shortest lifespan, only lasting 10 to 15 years before requiring replacement. 

We recommend these gutters for homeowners on a tight budget or those who live in coastal areas; coastal climates have air with high salinity that can rust metal gutters. 

Aluminum Gutters

Aluminum is the go-to material for most modern gutter installations. It’s lightweight, easy to work with, moderately low cost, and corrosion-resistant. In ideal conditions and with proper care, aluminum gutters can last up to 20 years. 

Aluminum is much stronger than PVC or vinyl, allowing it to withstand heavier impacts without breaking or cracking. It’s not as strong as heavier metals and can be prone to bending or denting, especially if ladders or other heavy equipment is placed against it. 

We recommend aluminum gutters for most installations. They can be used in many climates due to their weather resistance and are reasonably priced.

Steel Gutters

Steel is a heavy-duty gutter option, as it’s one of the sturdiest materials on the market. There are two types of steel gutters: galvanized and stainless. Galvanized steel contains an outer layer of zinc that increases weather resistance and prevents rusting. Stainless steel is an alloy that contains 10% to 30% chromium, making it more rust-resistant. Galvanized steel lasts up to 20 years, while stainless steel lasts up to 25 years. 

Galvanized steel is easier to work with and less expensive than stainless steel, but it doesn’t last as long. Galvanized steel’s resistance comes from its zinc coating, so the steel will begin to rust if that coating wears off. This weakness can pose a problem in some climates, including near coastlines where salt water in the air can degrade the coating more quickly. Stainless steel offers superior weatherproofing but costs more, is heavier, and is more difficult to install.

Copper Gutters 

Copper is a luxury metal with many beneficial properties, making it one of the most in-demand materials for roofs and gutters. Copper is resistant to weather and corrosion, lasts up to 50 years with proper maintenance, and is aesthetically pleasing. It’s often seen on historic buildings, adding a regal flair to already beautiful homes. 

Copper gutters can be polished and protected with a coating to maintain their metallic sheen or allowed to weather and develop an emerald-like patina over time. Another major benefit to these gutters is that they’re a natural algaecide and fungicide, so you won’t have to worry about mold or mildew growth. 

Copper comes with a steep price tag, as it’s one of the most expensive gutter materials you can buy. It isn’t as durable as steel and requires more care, upkeep, and specialized training to install. 

Zinc Gutters

Zinc shares many qualities with copper gutters. It is corrosion-resistant, lasts up to 50 years, develops a protective patina, and is aesthetically pleasing. While zinc gutters are more popular in Europe, they have gained traction in the United States in recent years and are becoming more common on high-end and historic homes. 

Like copper, zinc’s patina creates an exterior coating that protects it from weathering. Zinc is more prone to damage from coastal air and shouldn’t be paired with wood-shake roofing, as its acidic runoff can damage the roofing material. Zinc is slightly less expensive than copper. 

Gutter Design 

Most homeowners opt for K-style gutters, but other options are available depending on your needs and style preference. Below, we outline the major gutter styles and explain their main benefits. 

K-Style Gutters

This style of gutters is the standard option for home installations. They have a sleek “K”-shaped, curved face that resembles crown molding. K-style gutters are deep set with a flat bottom and elegant design, making them functional and relatively low maintenance. These gutters can be installed in most climates and are available in most materials.

Half-Round Gutters

Half-round gutters resemble a half-round tube or a barrel that has been cut in half. These gutters have an old-world look, making them a popular choice for historic homes in materials such as copper, zinc, and even wood. This design is more durable than K-style gutters and easier to clean. Most impacts roll off these gutters, and debris slides out easily. The biggest downside to these gutters is their shallow depth and tendency to overflow. 

Box Gutters

Box gutters are an old-world, heavy-duty gutter option. These gutters are the widest and bulkiest. They can catch more water than any other gutter design. They were more common in the 1800s to 1900s but have fallen out of popularity. Today, they are primarily used on industrial or commercial buildings. They’re built directly into your home’s fascia using a wooden exterior frame and metal lining. 

Box gutters are difficult and expensive to construct, requiring custom installations with specially trained builders. They can handle massive amounts of water and are structurally sound but are prone to standing water problems and difficult to clean. 

Gutter Size

Your home’s total length of guttering (referred to as linear feet in estimates) is one of the major factors in the cost of installation. The larger and more complex your roof system, the more linear feet of guttering it will need, and the more expensive your project will be. Most modern U.S. homes require between 100 to 200 linear feet of gutters. 

Your gutters’ width determines how much water they can handle without overflowing. If your home is in a dryer climate, you can choose 4-inch gutters, but most homes require 5- to 6-inch systems. If you live in a rainy climate or an area prone to extreme weather, you may need 7-inch or wider gutters. Wider gutters are bulkier, use more materials, and are more difficult to install, making them more expensive. 

Climate

Your climate will affect which gutter size and materials are appropriate for your system. If you live in a region with heavier rainfall, consider investing in wider gutters. If you live in an area that receives heavy snowfall, avoid brittle materials such as PVC. Homeowners in dry regions, such as the Midwest, can opt for a smaller system but should choose a material that withstands high heat, such as stainless steel. If you live along a coastline, choose a material with high corrosion resistance, such as PVC, aluminum, or copper. 

Knowing which gutters are best for your region can be difficult, and the wrong choice can lead to expensive damage or replacements. Because of this, we recommend contacting a professional gutter company or roofing expert before making a decision. Local experts have the experience and training to install the correct gutter systems. 

Foliage

The trees, bushes, and other plants surrounding your home can impact your gutters in surprising ways. Plants produce acidic compounds in pollen and leaves that, when left to build up inside a gutter system, can break down their connectors over time. Plants also produce a lot of materials that will eventually clog your system and lead to overflows. Consistent gutter maintenance and add-on products such as gutter guards can remedy these problems. 


How Much Do Gutters Cost?

The cost of your gutter system depends on its total length, width, material, and design, as well as your roof size and other factors, such as your landscaping and local labor rates. Assuming you choose standard 5-inch, K-style gutters on a 200-foot system, you can expect to pay the following for each type of material: 

  • Vinyl: $600–$1,000
  • Aluminum: $1,200–$2,400
  • Steel: $1,800–$4,500
  • Copper: $3,600–$8,000
  • Zinc: $4,500–$7,500

Additional services, such as downspout installation, flashing replacement, and cleaning, can increase project costs. Here’s a quick breakdown of the average price per service fee: 

  • Downspout replacement: $5–$11 per installation
  • Splash blocks: $15–$25 each per Amazon data
  • Flashing replacement: $150–$1,000
  • Gutter cleaning: $70–$250 

*Cost data sourced from HomeAdvisor and Fixr unless otherwise noted.


Are Gutter Guards Worth It?

Gutter guards, also called gutter covers or helmets, sit on top of or inside your gutters and use a filter to keep materials from entering your gutter. There are many types of gutter guards, all with varying degrees of effectiveness. Gutter guards can be worth it for homeowners who want to reduce how often they clean their gutters and make regular gutter maintenance easier. 

There are two main options for gutter guards: DIY products and professional installations. DIY gutter guards are low-cost and easy to acquire. However, they require more work to install, vary in quality from product to product, and require more regular maintenance. 

Professional gutter guard companies provide higher-end products, additional services such as gutter repair, and long-lasting warranties. However, they’re several times more expensive than DIY guards, and customer satisfaction varies between companies.

We installed and tested a dozen DIY gutter guard brands on a model roof and gutter system to assess their effectiveness, durability, and water filtration. Our top pick for DIY installations was Raptor. It uses a stainless steel micro-mesh screen to keep out most debris and has easy-to-follow installation instructions.
Leaves inside a metal DIY gutter guard.
Pine needles and leaves blocked by DIY gutter guard | Photo by James Kiefer

We recommend LeafFilter for professional installations. LeafFilter provided us with a floor model of its product to test the LeafFilter system. It boasted the best screen out of every guard we tested, kept out the most debris, didn’t overflow in heavy rain, and was the easiest to clean. 

Compare our top picks for professional gutter guard installers in the table below.

Product Image Star Rating BBB Rating Link
LeafFilter LeafFilter LeafFilter
A+ Visit Site
LeafGuard LeafGuard LeafGuard
A+ Visit Site
Gutter Guards America Gutter Guards America Gutter Guards America
A+ Visit Site
HomeCraft HomeCraft HomeCraft
B Visit Site
All American Gutter Protection All American Gutter Protection All American Gutter Protection
A Visit Site
LeafFilter
Logo LeafFilter
Product Image LeafFilter
Star Rating
BBB Rating A+
Visit Site
LeafGuard
Logo LeafGuard
Product Image LeafGuard
Star Rating
BBB Rating A+
Visit Site
Gutter Guards America
Logo Gutter Guards America
Product Image Gutter Guards America
Star Rating
BBB Rating A+
Visit Site
HomeCraft
Logo HomeCraft
Product Image HomeCraft
Star Rating
BBB Rating B
Visit Site
All American Gutter Protection
Logo All American Gutter Protection
Product Image All American Gutter Protection
Star Rating
BBB Rating A
Visit Site
Company
Star Rating
BBB Rating
Best For
A+
Best Filtration
A+
Best for Large Debris
A+
Best Customer Responses
B
Best Additional Services
A
Best Deals and Discounts

Our Conclusion

Without gutters, your home will experience the effects of constant water runoff, which can lead to water damage, soil erosion, and foundation problems. However, there are many materials and designs to choose from that can protect your home. Choosing the best gutters for your home comes down to your budget and preferences. 

We recommend shopping around for a reliable local installer to get the best gutters for your home. By requesting multiple free quotes, you can get an estimate of the total cost and scope of your project. Our recommended providers below offer both gutter and gutter guard installations and replacements. You can request quotes and schedule free at-home inspections to learn more.


FAQ About Choosing the Best Gutters

What are the best quality gutters?

The best quality gutters are made from copper. Properly installed and well-maintained copper gutters can last 50–100 years or longer. However, aluminum gutters may be a more cost-effective option. Many people find that aluminum gutters strike the right balance between price and performance.

Are seamless gutters really better?

Seamless gutters cost more than sectional gutters and always require professional installation, but they also last longer and require less maintenance.

Traditionally, gutters come in pre-cut sections that must be connected. The most common place for gutters to clog, sag, or leak is along the seams where two sections come together. Seamless are cut on-site to match the exact specifications of your home. As a result, they do not have seams and experience fewer problems than sectional gutters.

How long do gutters last on a house?

Gutters can last anywhere from 10 to 100 years, depending on the type of gutter. Installation, maintenance, and climate can also affect how long gutters last on a house. As a general rule, the more expensive the gutters are, the longer they will last.

Copper gutters can last 50 years or longer, especially if they are seamless. Vinyl gutters, meanwhile, might only last 10 years. The average life span for aluminum gutters, the most popular material, is around 20 years.

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