What do professional gutter installers have that the average homeowner doesn’t?
Expensive gutter extruding machines, for starters.
All gutters can be categorized as seamless or sectional. Seamless gutters are installed by professionals using specialized machinery that shapes a roll of sheet metal into a continuous, straight length of gutter to fit the house. The only seams are found at corner miters and downspouts. Seamless gutters are considered more durable because the seams of sectional gutters can weaken 10 or 15 years down the road. As outdoor temperatures fluctuate, the constant expansion and contraction of the gutters tends to crack the seam caulk of sectional systems. If this happens, the seams have to be re-caulked from the inside with a special gutter sealant.
A gutter without seams won’t have the same performance or maintenance issues as one with seams. Furthermore, the seams of sectional gutters are visible, which some homeowners don’t like for aesthetic reasons.
For homes in areas prone to leaf accumulation, professional gutter installers offer another advantage: seamless covers to match your seamless gutters.
I paid a visit to Tommy Mooney and Andrew Pardo of The Ultimate Gutter Guard Company in Birmingham, Alabama, as they installed a new gutter-and-cover system on my neighbor’s house.
The installation method is to measure the roof-line, then feed sheet-metal into the shaping machines to form a rigid K-profile gutter, which is cut to the exact length needed. Next, the installers pre-attach the gutter hangers and end caps, and cut out any downspout openings as needed. The gutter cap is extruded in the same manner to the length needed.
It was nice to see these guys’ attention to detail. For example, I noticed that after they cut a valley opening in the gutter cover, Tommy fit it with a screen and then spray-painted the screen to match the cover color. By the way, that’s another advantage of professional gutter installation — more available color options than the typical white-painted sectional systems available from most “big box” stores.
In the end, the neighbors got a slick-looking seamless, covered system that blends well into the roof line. The Gutter Guard allows the gutters to easily collect roof runoff while preventing leaf buildup that can clog the system. And believe me — in our tree-towered neighborhood, gutter covers are a MUST-HAVE.
Seamless gutters are very nice, but you’ll also have to pay for professional installation, which is considerably more expensive than the DIY approach. For homeowners on a budget, you can pick up lengths of sectional gutter and downspouts at most “big box” stores and assemble them using folding aluminum “seamer”” pieces and gutter sealant to glue the sections.
You can also retrofit your gutters (seamless or sectional) with a variety of different gutter-cover products to prevent leaves and debris from building up and causing clogs.
However, if you’re not comfortable working at heights and you have a multi-level house, then professional installation is probably the smart way to go.