There are several advantages to pre-cut sectional gutter systems, such as those from Home Depot and Lowe’s. Probably the biggest is that they are available spur-of-the-moment; you can go and get them when you need them. We feel, however, that there are some disadvantages that should be considered.
Advantages to pre-cut sectional gutter systems
They’re available spur-of-the-moment. Right now, at this very moment, at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s or other hardware store, it’s a safe bet there are sections of pre-cut gutter ready for you to purchase, take home and install. This is great for emergencies. Maybe you’ve decided to replace your existing gutter and you want to get it done today before it rains tomorrow. It is very convenient to waltz into Lowe’s and get all the pre-cut gutter you need on the spot.
At 10′ long, pre-cut gutters are short enough that they’ll fit into the bed of a pick-up truck or trailer. What’s more, these 10′ lengths are short enough for you to install by yourself. Much longer and you’re going to need help. Since we handle seamless gutters all the time, we’ve learned the longest length of gutter one person can handle is around 12′ to 14′. Working with longer sections than this and you risk bending or breaking the gutter.
The price is also appealing, at under $9 for a 10′ section of 5 in. white galvanized-steel K-style gutter from Home Depot. That’s about $.90/ft. By comparison, when we ‘chop and drop’, that is come to you and produce seamless gutter for you, we charge $3.25/ft.
Disadvantages to pre-cut sectional gutter systems
Unless you have a 10′ wide roof to put the pre-cut 10′ gutter on, you’re going to need multiple 10′ sections to complete your gutter. There are joints between 10′ gutter sections, between a section of gutter and a slip connector, between a gutter section and the drop section, and to the end caps. More joints means more possible leaks.
It takes time putting together that shopping list of gutter and downspout pieces you’ll need to complete your project. Not to mention driving to your local Lowe’s, walking half a mile inside the building finding the right aisle, gathering everything you need, checking out, loading-up your pickup or trailer (if you have either of these), hauling it all home, unloading, then going back because you forgot screws or gutter sealant.
Then there’s putting it all together. Connecting all those pieces take time. Let’s assume you only need the minimum number of pieces for a pre-cut gutter system from Home Depot (1 section of 10′ gutter, 1 slip connector, 1 drop section, and 2 end caps). It’s going to take more time to connect all these pieces (and cut the outlet hole) compared to a seamless gutter.
So, don’t forget to consider what your time is worth.
This is something most folks forget – there’s more to a gutter system than just the gutter. You need end-caps, possibly a drop section, possibly at least one slip connector. Using the above example, assuming you only need materials for a 10′ roof width, that’s 1 section of 10′ gutter, maybe 1 slip connector, (unless you overlap your sections), maybe 1 drop section (unless you’re going to cut your own hole), and 2 end caps. That’s 5 pieces, minimum. And, don’t forget screws, sealant, and hangers.
Cutting your own hole for the downspout is not pretty or easy. Some folks opt to purchase a drop section. Others prefer to cut the outlet hole themselves. If you prefer, you can purchase an outlet punch tool from Gutter Supply for about $220. This tool will punch a neat hole for you for the downspout.
What’s more, working with sheet metal is dangerous. All the pieces have sharp edges and corners. You can easily cut yourself on the materials alone. Then there’s the drilling through the metal pieces.
Doing it yourself, you always have waste. Leftover gutter or downspout, sheet metal screws, sealant. Broken drill bits.
The more pieces you have, such as sections of gutter and slip connectors, the more joints you have that will bend, even if it’s only slightly. That joint is a weak point that will sag, and any sagging or low sections will collect water and freeze.
Vinyl gutters are never a good idea. They are not as strong as steel or aluminum. They easily break or crack when hit by hail. They become brittle after a short period of time from the sun and changing temperatures.
Although there are a few advantages to pre-cut sectional gutters, we feel the disadvantages outweigh them. Especially considering that we will ‘chop and drop’, that is form and cut, a seamless gutter to your location, the exact length you require 🙂