What Are Seamless Gutters?
If you’ve ever looked into having new gutters installed, chances are you have run across the term “seamless gutters.” In fact, today over 70% of residential homes are equipped with them. The installation process is almost impossible without professional tools, for this reason most self-installed systems are almost never seamless. If you are reading this article, you are probably trying to decide which type of system to go with. We’ve compiled this primer to help you learn more and make a more informed decision. When trusting a professional to install your gutters, it’s important to know what you’re getting.
What Are Seamless Gutters?
The term “seamless gutters” describes gutters that are custom formed to a specific length to fit a homes roof line. First developed in the 1960s, they are created on-site from rolls of flat stock material called “gutter coil”; usually made of aluminum, but sometimes copper or steel. The name is a little bit of a misnomer in this case; ‘seamless’ gutters are not actually completely seamless, but the seams only exist at corners and downspout attachments, which are well sealed to protect against leaks.
The primary benefit of a seamless system is the reduced number of vulnerable-points for leaks to develop. Corrosion over time can break down the interior seal and create leaks in systems with seams. The more seams the more chances of leaks. A single, seamless piece has much greater structural integrity keeping the system properly functioning and diverting water away from the home’s foundation.
Seamless systems are also resistant to expansion and contraction from weather. The constant change in temperature causes the metal material to expand and contract at the seams. This can turn into a leak over time as the sealant material breaks down, the elimination of most seams mean less potential leaks.
The gutters come with a long lasting factory baked-on finish and are available in a wide variety of colors. Many homeowners consider them more aesthetically pleasing, since they appear as a single uniform piece. Sometimes they even blend in with the homes trim so well they are practically unnoticeable.
How Are Seamless Gutters Installed?
Because seamless gutters are custom made from gutter coil using special machines, it is very difficult for a homeowner to install them without professional assistance. In the majority of cases, a homeowner will select the material type and color, then the contractor will deliver the gutter machines to the job site and fabricate the gutters to the home’s specs. The whole production process is fairly quick, hence, most installations are completed in a single day. Make sure to discuss the details of your project with the contractor to determine the best options for material and fastening system. You may also want to go over the downspout locations as well to determine where the water run-off will be drained.
The whole installation process can be broken down as follows:
- Homeowner contacts contractor
- Contractor comes out to measure job and provide a free estimate
- Homeowner hires contractor and selects desired material, attachments, and color for their new gutter system
- Homeowner and contractor determine installation date
- On the installation date the contractor removes old gutters and takes final measurements
- Using measurements, the contractor produces new gutter system on-site
- Once pieces are formed, the contractor attaches gutters in a continuous line around the perimeter of the home
- Once gutters are attached, the contractor seals corners, and the downspouts are installed
- Gutter system is put through a final inspection to ensure everything works properly
What Are The Costs Of Seamless Gutters?
Seamless gutters typically cost more than sectioned systems for one simple reason: you have to hire a contractor. There is no practical do-it-yourself option and the process involves time, experience, and skilled labor. In terms of actual cost, an installation can run from few hundred dollars for a small job to thousands of dollars depending on the contractor, style of gutters, and the size of the project. The machines involved in forming the gutters are themselves quite expensive, hence contractors may charge extra for their use.
The relative expense of seamless gutters begs the question: are they worth it? In our opinion, they certainly are. The fact that a majority of homes in the U.S. use them is a good indicator of their value. Although the upfront costs may be higher, seamless gutters offer much better long-term protection than sectional systems. Since, contractors have faith in their reliability, they also often come with great warranties. When it’s done right it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. For more information read about the value of a professional installation.
The main problems most homeowners have in terms of getting value from their seamless gutters usually stem from the contractors poor quality workmanship rather than the product itself. In order to protect yourself from ballooning costs and shoddy work, it’s important to know how to hire the right company for the job. Check out our guide on hiring a contractor for a few tips.
We hope this blog has demystified “seamless gutters” and empowered you to make more informed choices about your gutters. Let us know if you have any additional questions!