Your home is equipped with rain gutters designed to keep water away from the foundation. Gutters carry water from the roof to downspouts then channel it away safely. A typical gutter installation consists of numerous sections of aluminum gutters cut to fit and attached to the side of the house. But there are also seamless gutters if you're interested.
The demand for seamless gutters is slowly growing. They offer definite advantages, but they do cost more. The homeowner needs to decide whether the extra benefits are worth the higher price. A big part of the cost relates to how seamless gutters are made.
Though it is possible to manufacture seamless gutters in a factory, they are almost always manufactured onsite. It is just easier that way. The installer starts with an expensive, highly technical roll forming machine into which long coils of aluminum are fed.
The installer measures the distance to be covered in a single span. That number is entered into the roller, the aluminum is fed into the machine, and the machine is run. It pulls the aluminum through and forms it into the exact shape the customer has chosen.
Roll forming is one of the same processes used in manufacturing plants. Another option is die stamping. Either way, a thin piece of aluminum can be formed into a complete gutter section in mere minutes.
The big downside to seamless gutters, in addition to their comparatively high cost, is that they need to be installed by professionals. This is not a very good DIY project for the simple fact that you need the roll forming machine along with the knowledge required to install correctly.
Incidentally, specially formed end caps and corner pieces complete the seamless gutter installation. These pieces also tend to be fabricated onsite, though they don't have to be.
A seamless rain gutter installation can run you up to $25per foot – or even more if an installation is particularly labor intense. Prefabricated gutter sections cost significantly less and tend to require less labor. Therefore, the overall price is cheaper.
So why would homeowners elect seamless gutters? Here are just a few of the reasons:
Seamless gutters are custom measured, manufactured, and installed. When done right, they fit like a glove. That means they perform better as well. The better the fit, the less likely gutters will leak, sag, etc. Corner joints also tend to be tighter.
Gutter leaks almost always occur at the junction of two sections. With traditional sectioned gutters, installers use caulk to prevent leaks. But caulk dries out and degrades over time. Thus, leaks are inevitable unless you make the annual effort to strip old caulk and replace it with new.
Because seamless gutters have no joints other than corner sand transitions, the potential for leaks is very slim. That just makes for a better system overall.
Eliminating the seams along the length of a rain gutter eliminates one of the chief causes of debris buildup. The result is fewer clog sand overflows. Water runs much more freely in a seamless system over its entire lifetime. In a nutshell, they do the same job as sectioned gutters but multiple times better.
There are definite advantages to seamless gutters. Are those advantages enough to justify the higher cost? Only homeowners can decide that. It goes without saying that sectioned gutters are still the standard. They will probably remain so for the foreseeable future.