Commercial gutters often cover a larger area than residential gutters, and therefore must be equipped to collect more water. In order to prevent overflow, commercial gutters often need to be wider to accommodate the extra input and have adequate amount of downspouts to efficiently drain and divert the water away from the buildings foundation. Gutters are typically manufactured to either a 5-inch or 6-inch width, on the other hand, most commercial systems default to the 7-inch or larger sizes. Make sure that your system is wide enough to handle the runoff from your building without overflowing, an improperly functioning gutter can do more damage than good.
There are a several types of gutter styles that are commonly found on homes, but commercial gutters usually only come in K-style or box-style. K-style gutters are one of the most popular styles due to their visual appeal (similar to crown-molding) and their ease of installation. They are typically manufacture on-site using a mobile roll-forming machine making it possible to extrude a gutter that is virtually any length.
In contrast, box gutters can be made to virtually any size and custom specifications, but they are typically limited to 10 foot lengths. This means there will be a seam every 10 feet and they cost more because of the added labor and materials needed to install them. However, on large commercial roofs, especially in out-of-sight areas, business owners should strongly consider going with this style because they are more practical for larger size roofs.
Copper, aluminum, and steel represent the most common gutter materials in order of longevity and cost. For commercial gutters, aluminum and steel represent the best options, providing great reliability at a much lower cost than copper. Depending on the style of gutter and metal used, pricing starts around $8 per foot and can go up from there. Some commercial box gutter can cost as much as $50 per linear foot or more. The choice comes down to location, size of the roof, and budget of course.
Steel gutters hold up better to wear and tear from ladders and falling branches, but can rust over time. They represent the best choice for building located next to trees and other sources of debris. Aluminum gutters do not rust, making them the better choice for buildings in open areas. Consult with your contractor to make the most informed choice.
Building Code Considerations
Perhaps the most important distinction between commercial and residential gutters is the building code they must adhere to. Commercial buildings are often subject to a different set of laws and sometimes even require a permit. Building owners should become familiar with these laws to ensure their gutters are being installed properly and up to code or they may incur potential code violations. Buildings within city limits may be required to have gutters within a certain size, style, or of a particular material. There may also be rules governing the placement of downspouts to prevent damage to neighboring buildings or overwhelming the storm sewers. Become familiar with your local rules on commercial gutters before beginning any installation or replacement work.
For the most part the function of commercial and residential gutters is the same: divert water into safe channels to prevent damage to buildings and inconvenience to passersby. We hope that with this guide, business owners and commercial landlords feel equipped to tackle any gutter-related questions that comes their way. After all, the less time you spend worrying about your gutters, the more you can work!