Gutters channel water away from a home's foundation preventing structural damage, soil erosion, and wet basements or crawl spaces. The expense of potential water damage can far exceed the cost of installing a gutter system. While professional gutter installation can run from $5-$22 a linear foot, it is much more cost-effective to do it yourself.
Working With Wood
Wood is rarely used for gutters these days except for restoration projects, due to the upkeep and maintenance they require. If you do decide to use wood gutters, treat the wood with two coats of preservative and two coats of exterior paint before installation. Every five years repeat the process.
Vinyl is Final
Vinyl gutters are relatively inexpensive, can be found at any home improvement store, are easy to install and require no painting. Aluminum gutters are sensible as well, but may leak if the joints are not riveted by a professional. Additionally, with age they may rust.
If you do go with vinyl, do not seal the expansion joints with caulk where a straight piece turns a corner, as the joints need to expand and contract with the weather.
For a neat, trim edge, use a hacksaw with a fine-tooth blade to cut vinyl gutters. File off or sandpaper any whisks. Placing a two-by-four in one end of the vinyl gutter while cutting it will prevent the vinyl from becoming misshapen.
Snap a level chalk line across the fascia board for reference. Allowing for a pitch of 1/4 inch per 10 feet of gutter, run a string to mark the slope from the high end of the run to where the downspout will meet the drop outlet. Attach hanger brackets every 24-30 inches along the fascia.
Connect the vinyl gutter pieces on the ground before installation on the house. Begin with the drop outlet piece. Attach the end cap, then connect the drop outlet to a piece of gutter length using a special gutter connector with a gasket seal. Apply a bead of caulk to the insides of the connector and the end cap to make it more waterproof.
Now measure the length of run needed on the house from the high point to the outlet. Using a hacksaw or metal snips, with the drop outlet attached, neatly cut the gutter section to fit.
Mount the gutter on the hanger brackets which have already been attached to the fascia, and caulk the inside of the connecting pieces. Snap clips on top of the brackets. Connect an elbow to the the drop outlet and another to the downspout. With someone on the ground holding the downspout against the wall of the house, measure the distance between the two elbows. Cut a section of downspout a couple of inches longer to fit. Slide the downspout over the drop outlet elbow and inside the downspout elbow. Fasten the downspout to the wall of the house with straps, attach an elbow and extender at the bottom, with a cement splash block beneath.
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