|Your garden-variety ogee (or "K-style") aluminum gutter|
and downspout. These make up about 80 percent
of all gutter installations.
Downspouts (technically called “rain water leaders”) should also be carefully thought out before installation time. I’ve seen lots of beautiful houses defaced by downspouts snaking all over the walls. Figure out where they’ll be least visible, and then verify the locations with the gutter installer.
|Oops—you forgot to maintain those|
sheet metal gutters.
Now it's going to cost you.
Here are the most popular types of gutter in use today:
• Aluminum gutters have become the standard of the residential industry. They’re available in traditional ogee and half round profiles as well as more rectilinear modern styles. Most have a baked-on finish that's available in a limited number of colors. Although they're available in twenty-foot lengths, many common gutter profiles can be fabricated onsite from continuous coil stock, allowing gutters of any reasonable length to be fabricated without seams.
|Traditional half-round copper gutter and ornamental|
leader head—beautiful and essentially maintenance free,
but with a very substantial first cost.
• Copper gutters are similar to sheet metal ones in most respects. The big differences are that copper does not corrode, nor does it require any finishing, since it naturally oxidizes to a beautiful verdigris color over a period of years (if you’re in a hurry, a patinator can artificially age them for you). As you might guess, copper gutters are expensive, generally running about $25 per lineal foot installed.
|Plastic gutter and downspout: Looks are not its strong suit.|
• Metal downspouts for all of the foregoing gutters types are available in a variety of sizes, in both round and rectangular shapes. Rectangular downspouts are more common, but round ones can be used for a more traditional look.
• Plastic gutters are made of PVC and are available in a limited number of colors. Their main claim to fame is simple, do-it-yourself installation. Although they're cheap and rustproof, plastic gutters have multiple drawback: They're susceptible to degradation from sunlight, often have a wavy or saggy look when installed, and use clumsy looking snap-together joints. On top of all this, they're a petroleum-based product that's not particularly friendly to the environment.