Wood, vinyl, aluminum, steel and copper are some of the materials that gutters and downspouts are made of. Wood is the least popular because of it’s high maintenance and price. Vinyl is great for do-it-yourselfers and can be found at home-improvement centers. Aluminum gutters are the most common. Primary aluminum is the thickest and most consistent kind. Metal gutters are made in sheet metal shops and require gutter specialists to install them.
SHAPES & SIZES: U- AND K-SHAPE
Gutters come in several sizes and shapes called profiles. The most common are the U shape and the K shape. The more important choice is the sizing of the gutters and the downspout. Choices include 2×3-in or 3×4-in. rectangular shapes, as well as 3- or 4-in. round pipes. Metal gutters are also available in different sizes. The most popular is 5" gutter which is typically paired with 2×3-in. downspout. 4" gutter is more popular in areas where there is less rainfall. Occasionally you will see 6" gutter in markets where rainfall is particularly heavy.
So as to allow you to match house color or trim, there are more than 25 different colors to choose from when you buy sectional aluminum and steel gutters. Vinyl gutters usually only come in brown or white. Copper has a natural color and comes unfinished.
TYPES OF GUTTERS
Sectional types are sold in 10- to 22-feet long pieces. They’re made of vinyl, painted aluminum or prepainted steel. Gutter sections are joined together by Snap-in-place connectors. All sectional systems have end caps, corner pieces and drop outlets for connecting to downspouts. The negative to sectional systems is that there is a potential for leaks through all those seams. One positive is that they can be installed by either the homeowner or by a professional installer.
Seamless gutters are the most popular type today. The biggest selling point is that they don’t have any seams which could potentially leak. The sections join only at inside and outside corners and at downspout outlets. Seamless gutters are usually formed from aluminum that has a baked-on finish, but they may be made from copper or factory-painted steel. They are made with a special machine that’s brought to your home by a gutter contractor. These types of gutters can not be installed by do-it-yourselfers.