If your gutters are constantly leaking or starting to sag from years of wear and tear, it might be time to replace them. As you shop for new gutters, you'll notice a wide variety of styles and options to choose from. There is one very important question your gutter installer will ask you, though: do you want sectional or seamless gutters?
We’ve compiled the pros and cons of sectional and seamless gutters, their costs, and provided some insight on which gutter might be best for your home. Let’s jump in.
What are seamless gutters?
Seamless gutters are a type of gutter system made with long continuous pieces of a single material, and unlike regular gutters, they are without any seams. They are measured and cut to size on-site using the exact measurements of your home to make a perfect fit.
Compared to regular gutters, seamless gutters are low maintenance, leak-resistant, long-lasting, and increase your home's curb appeal. This style of gutter is also available in various materials, with aluminum, steel, and copper gutters being the most common.
Seamless gutters cost between $6 to $50 a linear foot installed or $2 to $43 a linear foot for just the gutter materials. You will notice that seamless gutters are more expensive than regular sectional gutters mainly because they are formed specifically for the measurements of your home. Due to the length of seamless gutters, they are also more difficult to install, which results in a higher labor cost.
Pros of seamless gutters
With seamless gutters having no joints or seams, there are fewer areas where leaves, sticks, and other debris can get stuck and start to accumulate. This makes seamless gutters far less likely to experience clogs or buildups affecting the water flow.
While this does not mean that seamless gutters will never require maintenance or cleaning, they will require it less often than sectional gutters. Depending on the amount of foliage around your home, seamless gutters will usually only require cleaning once or twice a year.
Seamless gutters are a far more durable option when compared to sectional gutters. Even with very little maintenance, seamless gutters will have a lifespan of over 20 years. Seamless gutters are also more capable of dealing with strong winds, rain, and snow.
The system is far less likely to have leaks or other damages because of the lack of weak points such as seams and joints. Avoiding leaks will not only protect your home from water damage, but it can also save you time and money on maintenance and upkeep. On a regular gutter system, the joints are the most common points for leaks to appear and can often require you to re-seal the joint or even replace it.
Many homeowners opt for seamless gutters due to their appearance and ability to increase curb appeal. With no joints, seams, or fasteners, seamless gutters provide a smooth, finished appearance. With seamless gutters being custom-built for each home, you can expect them to line the exterior of your home perfectly.
Cons of seamless gutters
Compared to sectional gutters, seamless gutters often have a higher upfront cost. This is mainly due to the higher labor costs for a seamless gutter installation. Seamless gutters have to be custom-built and cut to fit each home, resulting in a longer and more intensive installation process.
It’s important to note that while seamless gutters have a higher upfront cost, you may pay less in the long run, since they’re longer lasting and require less attention.
Difficult to replace or repair
If a seamless gutter requires any repairs or replacements, it will often involve the entire length of the gutter. This is because you can’t isolate a single section of a seamless gutter as you would with a sectional gutter. For this reason, gutter repairs can often be far more expensive for seamless gutters.
Not DIY friendly
Unlike sectional gutters, which can be bought from most local hardware stores, seamless gutters must be professionally sized and cut on-site to fit your home. Not only does this require a certain level of experience to get it right, but you will also need access to professional-grade equipment. Due to these complications, seamless gutters almost always require professional installation.
Compare prices from gutter installers near me
What are sectional gutters?
Sectional gutters are one of the most common types of gutter, and one that you have no doubt seen before. These gutters come in pre-cut sections of between 10 and 20 feet that are connected at the seam to form your rain gutters. A fastener or specialty sealant is used to join the gutter sections.
These gutters are typically cheaper to install and are available in several different materials, including vinyl, galvanized steel, copper, zinc, and aluminum. The downside of sectional gutters, though, is that they require a high level of maintenance, and it's common for them to leak or break.
Sectional gutters cost between $3 and $35 a linear foot installed, or between $1 and $31 for just the materials. You will notice that sectional gutters have a lower average material and installation cost compared to a seamless gutter system. This is largely due to the availability of materials and the easier installation process. However, sectional gutters are prone to leakage over time, which could cost you in the long run.
Pros of sectional gutters
Easy to install
When comparing the two gutter systems, sectional gutters are by far the easier to install, so much so that they can be made a DIY project. The materials required for installing a sectional gutter system are sold in component systems and can commonly be found at your local hardware store. The ability to install sectional gutters yourself can save you a considerable amount in labor costs.
A sectional gutter system has a lower average material and labor cost than seamless gutters. You can also save even more on upfront costs if you decide to DIY the sectional gutter installation.
Cons of sectional gutters
Prone to leakage
Sectional gutters are more vulnerable to leaks than seamless gutters due to the many joints or seams found along the gutter system. Leakage in your sectional gutters can appear for many reasons, whether due to poor maintenance of the seal or screws holding the two sections beginning to loosen or dissolve over time.
As well as making the gutters more prone to leaking, the seams and joints of sectional gutters can also accumulate fallen debris and cause clogging. Both leaves, sticks, and other debris can get caught on the gutter's joints and can cause major damage to your gutter system and potentially other parts of your home over time. This is why sectional gutters require regular maintenance and potentially gutter guards to prevent damage and ensure they operate effectively.
Which type of gutter is better?
When you look a bit deeper into the qualities of seamless and sectional gutters, it becomes increasingly clear that, in most areas, seamless gutters are the best choice. Seamless gutters are longer-lasting, are resistant to leaks, require little to no maintenance, and cost only a fraction more than sectional gutters.
It’s important to note that sectional gutters aren’t a viable option, especially if you want to save money and install the gutter system yourself. But, with seamless gutters having all these great qualities, it is tough to ignore them when choosing your new gutters.