It’s important to vet a prospective gutter contractor before hiring them. To that end, it helps to have a basic understanding of gutter installation best practices. This will help you determine whether the gutter installer is qualified for the job.
Here’s an overview of common gutter installation best practices:
1. Using Gutters and Hangers That Are Suited to Your Local Climate
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to most home improvement projects, and gutter installation projects are no exception. Gutters protect your roof from moisture damage, which is why it’s important to choose a gutter components that can withstand wear and tear and handle your area’s average amount of rainfall.
To help you get started, here’s a quick overview of the most common gutter materials and gutter hangers:
- Aluminum – Aluminum gutters are the most popular kind of gutter on the market because they’re inexpensive, lightweight and corrosion-resistant.
- Galvanized Steel – Galvanized steel has a thin coating of zinc to protect it from corrosion. Over time, however, the coating will fade, leaving the gutters vulnerable to corrosion.
- Copper – Copper gutters are one of the most durable but also one of the most expensive options on the market. They have an average lifespan of at least 50 years.
- Spikes and ferrules – This inexpensive gutter hanger is attached to the fascia via a spike driven through a metal tube or ferrule. Most contractors don’t recommend using spikes and ferrules to attach gutters on roofing systems with wooden fascia boards because the split in the fascia board leaves it vulnerable to moisture damage. Spikes and ferrules also aren’t the best choice for homes in temperate climates. That’s because metal expands and contracts as temperatures rise and fall. Repeated contractions and expansions can loosen the spikes and ferrules over time.
- Brackets and straps – Brackets and straps are used to install half-round gutters. Since half-round gutters can’t be directly installed on the fascia board, this type of gutter hanger is installed underneath the gutters. Brackets and straps are ideal for areas that receive heavy rainfall, as they wrap around the half-round gutters, providing additional support. If you have brackets and straps installed, you should be extra careful when cleaning your gutters. That’s because excessive force can dislodge the gutter hanger. To reduce your gutter maintenance needs and consequently the risk of dislodging your gutter hangers, you can install gutter covers.
- Hidden hangers – If you’re concerned about your home’s curb appeal, hidden hangers are a smart choice. They’re attached to the fascia board from inside your gutters, hiding them from view and keeping your facade’s exterior design consistent. Most contractors also recommend hidden hangers, as they pair well with K-style gutters, the most common type of gutters in the U.S.
Here’s a tip: It’s best to hire a local gutter contractor. They’ll be more familiar with your area’s climate and therefore can make better recommendations about what type of gutters to install.
2. Attaching Gutter Sections on the Ground
It’s easier for a gutter contractor to mount the gutter system on your roof if its sections are assembled on the ground. Adjustments can be made after your new gutters are installed on your roof.
3. Cutting Out the Downspout Outlet
Cutting out the downspout outlet gets rid of unsightly seams or joints, giving your new gutters a more finished look.
Integrating Your New Gutters Into Your Exterior Design
If you’re concerned about the impact of your gutter system on your exterior’s curb appeal, you might want to consider installing copper gutters. Copper is a high-end metal that’s low maintenance, offers exceptional durability and features a classic aesthetic appeal. Copper gutters, a common feature in historic and high-end homes, can lend sophisticated elegance to any exterior. The only drawback is its hefty price tag.
If you’re looking for more affordable aesthetically pleasing gutters, consider seamless gutters. As the name suggests, seamless gutters lack unsightly seams—the lack of gaps and joints gives them a more streamlined, sophisticated look.
4. Determining the Proper Slope
Your new gutters should be installed at a certain angle to ensure rainwater is diverted to the drains. As a rule of thumb, gutters should have a slope of 1/4 inch for every 10 feet.
5. Applying Sealant Properly
Your gutter contractor should wipe the gutter sections dry before applying a liberal amount of sealant on the seams. The sealant waterproofs your gutters and ensures rainwater won’t leak through gaps between gutter sections. Keep in mind that you need to have a gutter contractor reapply sealant occasionally, as the sealant on the seams connecting your gutters may deteriorate over time.
How Gutter Covers Can Help Extend Your Gutters’ Lifespan
It’s also important that you have your gutters cleaned routinely. That’s because the excess weight load from accumulated leaves and twigs can cause the gutter sections to pull apart at the seams. If you want to reduce your gutter maintenance needs, you can install gutter covers, which prevent leaves and organic debris from entering and clogging your gutters, reducing their maintenance needs.
Keep in mind that most gutter covers will only reduce, not eliminate, your gutter maintenance needs. The one exception to that rule is Gutter Helmet®, the only gutter guards on the market with a Never Clean Your Gutters Again® guarantee.
How Gutter Helmet Works
This top-of-the-line gutter protection system uses surface tension to divert rainwater to your gutters. Surface tension causes water molecules to stick tightly to each other when they have nothing else to cling to. A good example of surface tension is how water in a glass forms a dome right before it spills over. When rainwater hits Gutter Helmet’s textured-and-ribbed surface, it clings to the system’s ribbed surface through the principle of surface tension. This process allows water into your gutters while keeping leaves and other debris out.
Seamless gutters have no seams and therefore don’t need to have sealant reapplied. Plus, their lack of seams—a weak point in a conventional gutter system—make them more durable.
6. Using Screws Instead of Rivets to Install Downspouts
Screws are easier to remove than rivets, allowing contractors to get rid of clogs from the downspouts faster. To prevent the screws from interfering with your home’s exterior design, make sure to use pre-painted ones that match the rest of your facade.
7. Crimping Ends of the Elbows and Downspouts Face Down
The gutter elbows and downspouts always have their crimped ends facing down to prevent water from leaking through the joints.
8. Cleaning Up Construction Debris
It’s standard practice for any gutter contractor to clean up construction debris after installing your new gutters.
Why It’s Best to Let Professionals Handle Gutter Installations
Some homeowners might be tempted to install their new gutters themselves, thinking it’ll save them money. However, DIY gutter installations almost always end up costing more in the long run. Installing new gutters isn’t as easy as it seems. For one thing, you need to figure out the correct pitch for your new gutters. Otherwise, rainwater won’t flow to the drains. Remember: It’s best to let the professionals handle gutter installations and your gutter protection needs.
One more thing: Don’t forget to vet a prospective gutter contractor before hiring them. Here’s a vetting tip: the more experience a contractor has in the industry, the higher their level of expertise, guaranteeing you’ll get the results you’re looking for.