Maximum Value Home Exterior Projects: Gutters

Learn how your home's gutters can improve the quality and curb appeal of your home.

Gutters might not seem like the most glamorous home improvement project to date, but they serve a critical purpose, and might in fact, be one of the best projects you can take on for the sake of your home’s protection.

Think back to the last big rainstorm you had: the howling wind, leaves and landscaping swept up into mini wind tunnels of debris and the torrential downpour of rain that makes leaving your home’s front stoop a decision of whether or not you want an additional shower that day.

Granted, not every rain is as heavy as this, but whether it’s a light sprinkle or what you might consider a neighborhood monsoon, gutters handle the critical task of keeping drainage away from your house, leaving it dry and protecting other home elements like siding, windows, doors and the foundation from water damage.

CURRENT TREND

  • Rainwater collection systems. No matter what your budget is or what kind of gutter material you use, rainwater collection systems, like rain chains, are now being implemented into gutter design to allow collected rainwater to be recycled for reuse. The ability to water your lawn, garden and landscaping with recycled water can cut down on water bills, while also being an attractive decorative piece. Filtration systems are also available within rainwater collection systems, so homeowners can recycle rainwater into their personal drinking water.

BIGGEST MISTAKE

“One of the worst things you can do,” according to appraisal expert Leslie Sellers, president of the Appraisal Institute, “is a poor job on gutter installation.” An improperly functioning gutter system will risk leaks that can cause a huge amount of permanent water damage to your home’s exterior and foundation.

Also, be wise in your choice of gutter size. If you choose the wrong size for your home, not taking into consideration overhang or elevation of the roof, you can risk constant clogging or basically, a tacky looking system. While DIY projects are feasible for gutter installation, it is essential to understand the ins and outs of the project. If you are unsure, or just don’t have the time to do all the research, then hiring a professional is going to be the best decision in the long run.

EXPERT TIPS

  • On a Budget: Vinyl gutter systems have a small but growing number of loyal followers, especially in the DIY area of gutter installation, where materials will run around $3 to $5 per linear square foot. This type of gutter system has snap-together simplicity which makes for easy installation and is durable and resistant to dents, unlike some other popular gutter metals.

    They will not rust, chip or peel and are extremely low maintenance. Although visually different from more traditional systems, vinyl is a great option for homeowners looking to take on a gutter replacement project on their own with materials that have a reputation for being long-lasting and well made.

  • Mid-Range: A popular option with many homeowners, galvanized steel gutters range in price, starting at about $20 dollars per linear square foot. You get what you pay for in that steel is more durable than other metals in sticking up to ladders and fallen branches. It is also rust free, long-lasting and able to keep a high shine. Steel gutters have a higher price tag, but they have a solid reputation for getting your money's worth.
  • High-End: If you're looking for a low maintenance and well manufactured gutter product, then seamless gutter systems are a great choice. As the name suggests, seamless gutters do not have seams and thus offer the best protection for your home from leaks and potential water damage.

    Typically made of aluminum with a baked-on finish, seamless gutters also come in copper or factory-painted steel, giving you different style and color options that work best with your home’s exterior and design. Seamless gutters are installed by specialist contractors, hence the higher price tag. Cost can vary by contractor though, so do your research and find a quote and company that you feel comfortable with.

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