Of Gutter Importance: Everything You Need to Know About Gutter Installation and Repair

Though simple, rain gutters are crucial to a home's structural integrity. Maintain your home's stability and boost your curb appeal by understanding the do's and don'ts of gutter repair -- and help ensure a strong foundation for your family.

Your rain gutters have an often overlooked but important task: to transfer water from your roof to your drainage system. If your gutters aren't functioning properly, they can compromise your home's structure and should be replaced. Whether you want to install new gutters or repair existing gutters, here's what you need to know.

Choosing Gutter Installation or Gutter Repair

Nonfunctioning rain gutters can cause flooding, damage your foundation or roof, or fall off completely -- all of which are expensive situations to fix. Your first step should be consulting a gutter contractor to properly diagnose whether your gutters need to be repaired or replaced. Seeking a professional opinion right away could also save you from unnecessary gutter replacement if your existing gutter structure can be repaired to full use.

Assessing the Damage

As a good rule of thumb, leaks and loose joints should be repaired as soon as you notice them to help keep gutters in prime condition and reduce repair costs. However, if you can identify more than two problem areas, it may be best to install new gutters. Though replacement is typically more expensive than repair, replacing your gutters can help prevent further damage and the need for repairs to other areas of your home.

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Gutter Installation Cost

Most homeowners spend between $549 and $1,324 on new gutter installation. This cost depends heavily on the type of gutter material you select, which can add up to $10,000 based on the large cost difference between gutter materials. For example, vinyl  gutters start as low as $4 per piece, while copper gutters can go for over $100 per piece. Another factor to consider is the circumference of the roof. Larger roofs that have many sides will require more rain gutters and will likely increase the overall project cost. To help determine your final quote, ask your contractor if they charge per piece or linear foot.

Gutter Materials

After your gutter damage is diagnosed, your next step is selecting the right material for your new gutter. There are four common materials to choose from: vinyl, aluminum, steel, and copper. Keep your budget and personal style in mind when deciding which material is best for your home.


As the least expensive option, starting at $4 per piece, vinyl gutters are lightweight, made of plastic, and require minimal maintenance to stay in good shape. However, like all vinyl building materials, vinyl gutters are susceptible to color-fading when exposed to UV rays and can crack in extremely cold temperatures.


Aluminum is the most widely used gutter material and costs slightly more than vinyl -- ranging from $6 to $12 per piece. Aluminum gutters are terrific at withstanding the  weight of snow without breaking or rusting. Due to its popularity, aluminum can be found in many different colors or can be custom-painted to match your home's exterior.


Steel gutters also come in a variety of colors and typically cost between $11 and $33 per piece. Although steel can resist rust for a certain period of time, it may need to be replaced after five to 10 years. It's also important to note that steel is very heavy, so it is recommended to hire a professional gutter installation service instead of installing the gutters yourself.


Copper is generally the most expensive gutter material due to its long-lasting durability and beautiful finish. Copper can cost anywhere from $40 to over $100 per piece, but the finished product is worth the splurge. Over time, the copper finish will develop a green patina, or film, that adds a unique look to any home. The copper can also be polished to remove the film and restore the material's original color. Copper gutters need to be professionally installed to ensure properly welded seams and joints.

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Type of Gutters

When selecting gutters, homeowners have the choice between two styles: sectional or seamless. Sectional gutters are pieced together and have multiple visual seams. While sectional gutters are easy to install and typically less expensive, they have a higher risk of leaks. Seamless gutters require professional installation with special equipment, because they have a continuous structure with joints only visible in the corners and downspouts. Aluminum is the most commonly used material for seamless gutters, but copper and steel can also be used. Though more expensive, seamless gutters last longer than sectional gutters.

Gutter Enhancements

Gutter enhancements can be added to new gutters to provide protection from the elements and to keep them working longer.

Downspout Extensions

Downspout extensions help direct water away from your home's foundation to avoid water damage. The different types of downspout extensions available include splash blocks and drains, flashing, and hangers. Splash blocks and drains sit on the ground to funnel water away from your home and cost approximately $5 to $10. Flashing prevents moisture from damaging your roof and siding and costs $10 or more. Gutter hangers add strength to areas with heavy water flow and start at $2 per unit.

Gutter Guards

The purpose of gutter guards is to catch leaves and other debris and prevent those items from clogging your gutters. At $6 a piece, gutter guards cost much less than a professional gutter cleaning. Some gutters have built-in gutter guards, so check your gutters before making any new purchases.

Heat Tape

Winter weather can wreak havoc on your gutters; heat tape prevents your gutters from icing and potential overflow when they thaw. Heat tape costs around $77 per 100 feet -- a smart investment for homeowners in cold climates.

Downspout Screens

Downspout screens are an economical solution to clogged gutters, costing roughly $8 each. Downspout screens use the natural motion of the water to redirect debris away from the downspout opening

Gutter Repair Cost

Gutter repair can cost between $170 and $500 -- depending on the size of your home and the extent of the damage -- and involves repairing holes, rusty spots, detached gutters and downspouts, missing downspouts, and new screens and strainers. The amount of damage will determine if you need gutter installation or repair, as well as the overall cost of your gutters. Your home's height is also taken into account; multi-storied homes are usually more expensive to repair because special equipment is required and there are additional safety considerations.

Time to repair your gutters?

Get the Most Out of Your Gutters

Rain gutters provide additional benefits aside from proper drainage, like recycling water for reuse. Many homeowners are implementing rainwater collection systems to water their lawns and gardens and reduce utility bills. Filtration systems can also be used to recycle rain into drinking water.

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