What are the main types of gutters?


There are four different types gutters that are popular among homeowners. Which one should you choose?

To pick the right one, you’ll need to know how it’s shaped, what it’s made of and how it hooks on. Here’s a quick guide to help choose the best gutter system for your home. 

The 4 different types of gutters you should know. 

There are four main styles or types of gutters. Each one has its pros and cons, but they all serve the same purpose: to divert water away from your roof and foundation.

Here's a deeper look at all four gutter styles:

1. K-style gutters: the bestseller. 

k style guttersIf you have no clue what kind of gutter you have, odds are it’s k-style — the most popular type by far. Whether or not k-style gutters are shaped like the letter “k” is highly contested. They’re flat on the bottom and in the back, with a decorative curve (also called an “ogee”) on the front edge. Think of them as crown molding for your roof. 

2. Half-round gutters: a historical choice.

half round guttersIf your house belongs to a historical registry, it’s very likely that there’s a half-round gutter wrapped around it. Half-round gutters have to be held up from below, rather than hung on clips like gutter systems with a flat back. Because of this, they tend to be more visible from the ground — they’re fashion statement gutters. And with only half the depth of an average k-style gutter, they’re about twice as likely to overflow. 

3. European gutters: the high-fashion choice.

European guttersEuropean gutters have been made the same way for centuries, using metals like copper and steel. They also have a half-round shape, but with a gutter bead (the lip of the gutter) that faces away, unlike half-round gutters that face in.

4. Seamless gutters: a step up from sectional gutters.

seamless guttersThere are two types of gutter systems: seamless and sectional gutters. Most gutter systems are sectional. That means that they’re made in easily transportable pieces and fastened together onsite by a gutter installer. Because they have joints (which are prone to breaking and causing leaks), sectional pipes are fragile.

Enter seamless gutters. Generally made of aluminum, seamless rain gutters are custom fit to your roof using one long sheet of metal. In general, they’ll last you longer. They also cost you a lot more in materials and labor.

Find the right gutter installer for your project.

The 3 best gutter materials to use.

In addition to the different gutter styles, you also have several materials to choose from. You can install plastic, aluminum and even wood gutters. However, these are three common rain gutter materials to seriously consider for your home:

1. The do-it-yourselfer’s choice: vinyl gutters. 

vinyl guttersVinyl gutters are lightweight, easy to install and less prone to rusting than other natural metal gutters. And did we mention they’re cheap? Vinyl gutters are the IKEA of the outdoor plumbing world — the pieces snap together.

The downside: vinyl gets brittle in cold climates. If you live someplace snowy, you might need another option. 

2. For vanity water management: copper gutters.

copper gutters

If you don’t think rain gutters can be beautiful, you’ve never seen well-made European copper gutters. Mainly forged in a half-round shape, copper gutters can be a gorgeous addition to a home, especially one with a historical look.

The upsides of copper gutters are that they’re sturdy, won’t rust and don’t require paint. The downsides are that they’re expensive and require professional gutter installation. But there’s something nice in knowing if your financial situation goes south, you can melt down your gutters for cash. 

3. If you want lifetime value: stainless steel gutters. 

stainless steel guttersYour stainless steel gutters might just outlast you. They’re hardy and shiny, never rust or tarnish, and are generally accepted as the industry standard for gutters. They’re also expensive. But with four to five times the average lifespan of aluminum or vinyl pipes, they might just be worth it.

How much does gutter installation and maintenance cost? 

gutter cleaningWhether or not your gutter is a work of art, you’re going to need to clean it twice a year. The cost of getting your gutters cleaned depends on the size of your home, the company’s standard rate, the season (services are generally less expensive in spring and summer), the level of risk and how often you get your gutters cleaned. Pros often charge more to clean gutters with gutter guards because it requires a second process of dismantling and cleaning and adds to the total time cost. 

If you don’t clean your gutters enough, it’s very likely you’ll run into issues like leaks, structural damage and damage to your home’s foundation. In that case, you might end up needing even more professional help with overflowing gutters, blocked downspouts, gutter patching or installation of new gutters, and ice removal. 

If you don’t know where to start, ask a gutter pro for an onsite evaluation.

For more on costs, see “How much does gutter cleaning cost?” and "How much does gutter installation cost?"

Hire rain gutter installation and maintenance pros on Thumbtack. 

gutter installation professional

It’s time to scrap that broken drain pipe. Hire someone to install gutters that efficiently channel excess rainwater (and put the rest of the HOA to shame). 

Here are additional pros who can help keep your gutters in great shape:

Frequently asked questions.

Still have questions about rain gutter styles and materials? Here are the answers to FAQs you might also have.

What are the two types of gutter systems?

The two main types of gutter systems are section and seamless gutters. Seamless gutters come in one piece, and sectional gutters come in separate pieces that need to be fastened together. Both gutter systems have their pros and cons:

 Sectional guttersSeamless gutters
  • More cost-effective.
  • Most common and easy to find.
  • Available in different materials.
  • Relatively simple to install.
  • Longer lifespan.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.
  • Requires less maintenance.
  • Fewer leaks thanks to no joints or seams.
  • Can be custom-fit for your home.
  • More fragile.
  • Don't last as long.
  • More likely to experience leaks.
  • May fall apart during extreme weather.
  • Installation may take longer.
  • More expensive.
  • Repairs often mean addressing the entire gutter.
  • Not an easy DIY project.

Are seamless gutters better than regular gutters?

In many cases, seamless gutters are better than regular (or sectional) gutters. This is mainly due to the fact that seamless gutters don't have any seams — which means they're less likely to leak or experiences blockages. And since they're less prone to damage, that means they often last longer than sectional gutters. When you choose seamless, you'll likely have to pay more than you would for sectional gutters. But you get more bang for your buck.

What type of gutters is the cheapest?

Typically, the cheapest types of rain gutters are PVC/vinyl gutters and aluminum gutters. PVC/vinyl gutters start at approximately $3/linear foot to install, and aluminum gutters start at $4/linear foot. Find out how much gutters cost near you by requesting price estimates from several local professionals.

What is a fascia-style gutter?

Fascia-style gutters are modern and typically installed on homes that do not already have a fascia board. (For those who don't know, fascia boards are located along your roofline. They keep your rain gutters in place and add a bit of curb appeal to your home.) Fascia-style gutters are larger than k-style and half-round gutters, and they can hold more water runoff. This makes them better suited for homes that experience extreme weather and sudden rushes of water. 

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