If you have ever been unlucky enough to buy a commercial building that did not have a gutter system, you are all too familiar with how much of an inconvenience that can be. Rain gutters are essential for any roofing system because they direct water away from the foundation. This ensures that it remains structurally sound and dry.
Understanding how gutters work will make the experience of having to get a new system easier. There are more options out there than one would think exist and you need to consider the material and guards as well.
Do You Need a Gutter?
Not every building requires a gutter. In Los Angeles we have very little rainfall, in which case a gutter is not might not be necessary. However, in the winter time it can rain for days and without a gutter your roofing and the whole building can be seriously damaged.
What Does a Gutter Do?
There are a number of advantages to having a gutter. They are able to:
- Protect concrete slabs from cracking and sinking
- Direct water away from sidewalks, patios and the foundation.
- Block dirt from splashing onto windows or siding
- Add curb appeal and value
- Prevent erosion
- Keep water lines from discoloring the brick or concrete
- Extend the life of your stained wood decks and doors
Which One to Choose?
When it comes to finally selecting the gutter to purchase, there are a number of factors you need to consider. The material of the gutter will be the first important factor to consider.
- Aluminum: This is the most commonly used gutter material and is available in both traditional and seamless options
- Copper: This works well with historic buildings. Copper is very durable but also expensive and difficult to install.
- Steel: Galvanized steel is definitely pricier than other materials but these gutters can be painted and they are very durable.
- Vinyl: Probably the most affordable option. Vinyl gutters are easier to install and lightweight. Be advised that their lightweight nature causes them to sag and wear out faster than other gutter materials.
You also need to consider the various styles available when choosing what works best for your budget:
- K-style: This style consists of a flat black and bottom with a decorative front that mimics crown molding. This style holds a lot more water than half-rounds and they are considerably cheaper.
- Half-rounds: This style is a semi-circle shape with rounded edges, often found on older style buildings. People choose this even today, when they want to maintain the vintage feel. These are more expensive than K-style gutters and are harder to find.
What about Gutter Guards?
Gutter guards are installed over a gutter system to keep debris and leaves out and at the same time allow for the collection of water run-off from the roof. If you have gutters that are more than two stories high it is advised to have a gutter guard as this will reduce the amount of time you have to spend climbing up there to clean it out. Gutter guards are as different as the gutters themselves, so be sure to research before you buy.
Now for Installation
Despite your excellent do-it-yourself skills, it is not advised to install gutters on your own. The supplies to do so are available at any hardware store but the job is not as easy as most you might think it will be. In fact, gutter installation actually requires a great deal of skill and expertise. It may not be worth the risk of harm or roof damage to try and do it yourself. Be safe and hire a professional!
The incline of a gutter has to be just right in order to keep water flowing. Too sharp an angle can cause water to gush over the downspouts and down your building. Too gentle of an angle allows water to pool and eventually your gutters start to sag. Additionally some gutters require repairs that you may not catch. Gutter installation professionals can spot damage easily and complete the job quickly, which ends up saving you time and money.
Buying a new gutter system is not glamorous, but it is essential. So take the time to research and understand what gutters are for as well as how to select the right ones.
Do you need a commercial gutter system?