5 Critical Things to Know When Choosing the Right Gutter System for Your Home

Written by Alyssa Shea
Updated: November 3, 2023
Share on:


Having a solid gutter system is crucial in your home! Gutters play an essential role in preserving the structural integrity of your house. They funnel water away from your home to the downspouts that will take the water away from the eaves of your home. Also, even more importantly, the downspouts will direct the water away from your home. So, how can you ensure you purchase the right system for your house?

A portrait of inside of a clogged roof gutter filled with water and autumn leaves. The water cannot run away, this is a typical chore in or after autumn when all leaves have fallen.

Did you know that your gutters need to be sloped to ensure the water will flow towards the downspout?

©Joeri Mostmans/Shutterstock.com

1. What Is Your Budget?

Do you consider yourself to be handy enough to put up the gutter system on your own? If not, you will likely have to hire a professional. Naturally, this will affect the cost of the entire project. It’s also important to keep in mind that the gutter cost differs when it comes to the material you choose and the length of gutter you will end up needing. An average single-story home will usually require about 200 feet of gutter. Check out the table below for what you might expect regarding price!

MaterialAverage Price Per FootAverage Price for 200 Feet
Vinyl$5$600 to $1,200
Aluminum$9$1,000 to $3,000
Steel$10$1,200 to $4,800
Zinc$20$4,500 to $7,500
Wood$31$5,400 to $8,000
Copper$33$3,600 to $6,000

2. Know the Anatomy of the Gutter System

Before you begin, it’s essential to know how the gutter system actually works!

Gutter: Catches the water coming off of the roof.

End cap: Fittings that close the end of the gutter.

Miter boxes: A joint between two connecting gutters.

Gutter hangers: These come in two pieces, which are a metal bracket that attaches directly to the fascia and a hanger that attaches to the front lip and clips into the fascia piece.

Downspout: Directs the water from the gutter to the ground and away from the house.

Pipe Cleats: Also known as straps or brackets, these secure the downspout to the side of the house.

Elbow: A section of bent metal that will change the direction of the flow of water.

Splash blocks: An object placed at the end of the downspout to give some personality to your gutter system.

3. Choose the Right Material

As we discussed above, gutter materials will come with different price tags. What climate do you live in? How much water and debris will your gutters need to handle? These are crucial questions to answer before you decide!

Aluminum gutters offer incredible durability when it comes to cost. It’s rare that you will find rust on them, and can last over 20 years in any climate. They’re super lightweight and effortless to install, too. Not only that, but they’re sustainable and recyclable, too!

If you’re looking for something a little more sturdy than aluminum, you might be interested in steel gutters. These gutters can withstand ladders, heavy snow, or fallen branches better than aluminum, but they have some downsides. Steel isn’t rust-free, so if you live in a wetter climate, you might want to avoid steel.

Wood is a good option if you’re more interested in looks. Many historic homes come with wooden gutters, so if you want to maintain the home’s integrity, you might choose wood. The main issue is that these will require more maintenance to ensure they stay in good condition. You can expect to treat them annually with water-resistant oils and stains to avoid wood rot.

Copper gutters are also commonly found in historic homes. They’re much more durable than wood gutters, too. In fact, they can last up to 50 years if you maintain them properly! You will also never have to worry about rust, and any oxidation will give it a beautiful blue-green patina. They require the least amount of maintenance, and they’re incredibly aesthetically pleasing.

Zinc is much less costly than copper but can still last up to 50 years. They’re very durable and will create a patina over time, a protective zinc carbonate layer when moisture is present. This will only help enhance corrosion resistance. It’s also incredibly sustainable!

The last option you could consider would be vinyl gutters. It’s a cheap option that is generally durable so long as they’re used in the right environment. They’re more suited to mild or dry climates and will definitely fail in areas with strong winds, snow, or rain. Otherwise, you won’t ever see rust or corrosion on these types of systems!

4. Consider Maintenance Needs

We’ve explored different types and costs when dealing with gutter systems. But it’s vital to go into this process fully prepared. How much work are you going to want to put into maintaining them? Many homeowners put off cleaning their gutters and end up with plenty of issues. Debris can build up and clog your system, leading to expensive issues and damage. Pests can also find their way into your gutter system! Gutter guards are the best way to protect your gutter system and can reduce the frequency of maintenance required. Keep in mind that the gutters will still need regular cleaning!

worker cleaning house gutter from leaves and dirt

Gutters can be prone to damage and pests if you don’t maintain them.


5. Think about Appearances

Finally, something to keep in mind is how the gutters will affect the appearance of your home. Some styles of gutter are made to stand out and make a bold statement. Picking a color that is different than your trim or siding is an excellent way to create contrast. You can create a system that will blend into the background of your home and go entirely unnoticed, too. Pricier materials like copper can instantly change the aesthetic of your home, too!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © ronstik/Shutterstock.com

Share on:
About the Author

I'm a 36-year-old mother of 2 and military wife. I have 2 dogs and a cat that I'm thoroughly obsessed with. When I'm not writing for work, I'm writing as a hobby. You can find me knee deep in a pile of books or way too invested in a video game.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.