Gutter Types: How to Choose the Right Kind

How to Choose the Right Kind

Gutter Types: How to Choose the Right Kind

aluminum gutter and downspout installation

With the weather conditions in our part of Michigan, gutters play a big part in keeping the rain water away from your home’s foundation. You will see a variety of styles, materials, and types of gutters around the area, and it helps to know your options before choosing the one that’s right for your home.

Types of Gutters

Gutters come in a few standard gutter shapes, so that is one way to differentiate them.

Half Round Gutters

half round gutter

Half round gutters have an open trough shape that carries rain water fairly effectively. This gutter style was traditionally quite common, so it is sometimes used to add historic character to a home. However, because their shape prevents them from being attached to the fascia boards, half round gutters require brackets under the gutter to hold them up. Unless the materials are decorative, like copper gutters, the exposed brackets can make the overall look less appealing.

K Style Gutters

k style gutter

K style gutters are the most common type of gutter in North America. The end of the gutter loosely resembles a letter K, and this design gives the contoured effect of crown molding when viewed from street level. One benefit of K style gutters is that they can carry twice as much rain water as half round gutters.

Fascia Gutters

Fascia gutters are custom built aluminum gutters that have a contemporary look. They are generally larger gutters that attach directly onto the framing of the home so the smooth face of the gutter hides the rafter tails.

Gutter Materials

The type of gutter material used on your house will affect the longevity of your gutters as well as the appearance and the amount of maintenance. Common gutter materials include:


Vinyl gutters come in various colors, and are generally the most inexpensive gutter material. Vinyl gutters can become stained or discolored, and they offer the shortest lifespan in our climate, in part because the material becomes brittle when water freezes in the gutter.


Aluminum gutters are more durable than vinyl, and they are available in a wide range of colors and styles. Aluminum is not prone to rust, and can even be painted if you change your exterior color scheme. For these reasons and because aluminum is easily formed into a variety of shapes, aluminum is the most popular of all gutter materials.


Galvanized steel gutters or stainless steel gutters are two of the heaviest gutter types available. Although their durability is similar to aluminum gutters, steel gutters tend to be more expensive and prone to rust.


copper gutter

Copper gutters offer a traditional look or a contemporary accent that develops a greenish patina over time. The material has been used for hundreds of years, with legendary durability. Copper gutters are often used along with other copper design elements, like a copper accent roof. This type of gutter has a higher price per linear foot due to the value of the metal.

Melvin Belk Roofing installs two of the most popular types of gutters appropriate for West Michigan: K style sectional aluminum gutters and copper gutters.

Seamless Gutters vs Sectional Gutters

In the past, most gutters were manufactured in sections, and you’ll still find sectional gutters in home improvement stores for DIY installation. These gutters are usually vinyl or aluminum gutters that are relatively easy to install in sections. They are glued or snapped together at the seams to keep the water flowing. The seams are where problems with sectional gutters tend to occur, when the seams crack or expand and contract, or rust occurs right at that weak point. Although sectional gutters are easy to install, they have become less popular now compared to seamless gutters.

Seamless gutters are aluminum or sometimes stainless steel gutters that are formed and extruded on site to fit the exact length of each gutter run. The only seams occur at the corners of the roof, where they are carefully mitered to create a perfect seal. Seamless gutters require specialized equipment and generally require professional installation. One advantage of seamless gutters is that they hold up longer because they don’t have weak spots at the seams. And although it is always necessary to clean and maintain gutters, seamless gutters require less maintenance than sectional gutters because seams tend to trap debris.

How to Choose the Right Gutters

For any given style and color of the home, there are several different types of gutters that could be a good fit. When choosing your gutter style and material, keep in mind the amount of water your roof needs to handle based on roof size and pitch, as well as our West Michigan climate. A gutter professional can help advise whether 5-inch or 6-inch gutters will best suit your roof.

Another thing to think about when you’re choosing gutters is the option of installing gutter guards to keep debris from accumulating in the gutter system. A gutter guard can be installed at the time of gutter installation or after the fact. Many homeowners opt to add a gutter shield when they have professional installation help on site because the shields are designed to minimize gutter cleaning and clogs in the long run.

When to Install New Gutters

Although many people choose to install new gutters when they get a new roof, the two projects can be done independently of each other. Since different materials wear at different rates, your aluminum gutters may require replacement before your asphalt shingles or vice versa.

When you have concerns about the best gutter system to keep the water away from your home, contact Melvin Belk Roofing to learn about your options and request a quote for professional installation.

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