Gutters are responsible for channelling water runoff from the roof to a location that won't cause flooding or water damage to the exterior or interior of the house. Though some houses with large overhanging roofs do not need gutters to prevent damage, most homeowners install gutters to limit the likelihood that moisture will damage roofs, foundations or landscaping. Gutters are categorised according to the shape of their profile and their material.
K-style gutters are the most popular gutter shape or profile for homeowners. K-style gutters are also called ogee gutters because of their decorative appearance. K-style gutters are a variation on the simplest gutter design, the box gutter. In a box gutter profile, the edges of the gutter are square. K-style gutters add additional angles to the standard box gutter so that a cross-sectional view of the gutter appears like the edges of indoor crown moulding. K-style gutters can be manufactured from a number of metal or plastic materials. K-style gutters are popular because they are affordable, decorative, functional and abundantly produced by manufacturers.
Half-round gutters are a popular gutter style that appears as a round pipe that has been sawn down the centre to leave a rounded bottom and an open top. Half-round gutters were once the standard gutter style until they were replaced by box or K-style gutters, but rounded gutters are becoming popular for homeowners because they can more easily blend with the style of the home. Most round gutters are made from aluminium but can be made form copper or PVC as well. Rounded gutters channel water to the lower-most point of the curve, which improves water flow through the gutter.
Aluminium is a common material used for manufacturing gutters. As far as metals go, aluminium is one of the easiest metals to mould to the correct shape as well as one of the more affordable metals available. Aluminium gutters can be custom-ordered to fit the needs of the home, but most aluminium gutters are sold in standard pre-cut sizes. Despite aluminium popularity, it can be a poor gutter material because of leaking at the joints as well as its sensitivity to temperature, which causes contraction and expansion.
Vinyl PVC gutters are not common in most residential homes. PVC gutters are susceptible to cracking or buckling in extreme temperatures, and PVC is an expensive material to repair properly. However, PVC is affordable compared to other gutter materials. PVC gutters can be manufactured in almost any gutter profile. PVC gutters are also easy to install and relatively maintenance-free.
Copper gutters are one of the most expensive and decorative gutters available. Copper metal gutters must be specially made and designed by a professional, both factors that contribute to the high cost. Over time, copper changes to a colourful green, blue or brown patina that adds style to a home. Copper gutters are most commonly found on restored homes with elaborate architectural detailing.