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Don’t let the cost of new gutters drown your budget

Three workers installing gutters
duckycards/Getty Images
Three workers installing gutters
duckycards/Getty Images

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Though they may not look impressive, your home’s gutters play a big role in the health of your house. They divert rainwater away from the roof and the foundations, reducing the potential for water damage, rot and other issues.

If they need replacing, the cost of new gutters will depend on the type of material you choose, the size of your home and how much of the project you can do yourself.

The average cost of a complete gutter and downspout replacement is $1,896, including labor and materials. A small house with basic vinyl gutters may cost $510 or so, while outfitting a large house with top-of-the-line copper gutters can cost $6,900.

How much do gutters cost?

For most homeowners, the cost of new gutters won’t break the bank, so it’s often worth investing in more durable materials — even if they cost a bit more. And remember that gutters don’t function on their own. You’ll also need to purchase material for your downspouts. The most common materials for gutters and downspouts are:

  • Vinyl: $3-$8 per foot. Vinyl is generally the most economical option, but it is likely to crack and deteriorate more quickly than other materials.
  • Aluminum: $4-$12 per foot. Aluminum is a durable, middle-of-the-road option. Though it’s metal, it can still crack when temperatures change dramatically.
  • Steel: $9-$20 per foot. Stainless steel will be expensive, but it can last a lifetime with proper maintenance. Unlike vinyl, steel can bear a lot of weight, making it ideal for homes surrounded by trees, or that get a lot of rain and snow.
  • Copper: $15-$40 per foot. Copper is expensive, but will last indefinitely. People choose copper for its durability, appearance and strength. However, prepare for higher installation costs with this option as well.
  • Wood: $18 to $27 per foot. Wood has a classy look that fits in well with traditional homes and rustic roof styles. While its initial cost doesn’t get as pricey as other materials, it is high-maintenance, requiring regular annual treatment with stain or paint on the outside and water-resistant oil on the inside.

Gutter Prices Vary By Material

Material Cost per piece (installed)
Sources: HomeAdvisor, Fixr.com
Vinyl $3–$5
Aluminum $6–$12
Stainless Steel $9–$20
Wood $21–$32
Copper $25–$40

Sectional vs seamless gutters

Whatever the material, gutters fall into two basic varieties: seamed (or sectional) and seamless.

Seamless gutters, as the name implies, come in one long, solid piece that’s cut specifically to fit your home and roof. As a result, they resist leaks and cracks better — joints always being the weak spot in fixtures — and require little upkeep.

Seamless cost more, generally $800-$5,000 per house, depending on what they’re made of. And because they’re so heavy and custom-cut, they have to be installed by a professional. People who choose seamless gutters pay more upfront for stress-free maintenance and longevity.

Additional materials to extend the life of your gutters

New gutters are an investment  and, to protect that investment, you may want to purchase various accessories. Typical ones include:

  • gutter guards ($6)
  • heat tape ($77 for a 100-foot roll)
  • a downspout screen ($8) or a wire mesh screen ($1 per square foot)

Additional materials you’ll likely need are splash blocks and drains ($10), flashing ($10) and gutter hangers ($2 and up).

Each of these add-ons can prolong the life of your gutters and save you on costly gutter cleaning services, which average $75 each.

Installing gutters: DIY or use a pro?

Gutter installation cost is usually calculated per linear feet, while labor costs are charged by the hour. Still, you can figure on contractors adding about $2.50 per foot to the gutter material cost.

The overall installation cost is calculated based on the type and quantity of materials and the time required to complete the project. For an average-sized house, it takes a whole day’s work to replace and install new gutters, which roughly amounts to seven or eight hours of labor cost. If your house is larger or the project is more complex, it can cost you two days or 16 hours of labor. You can expect to pay $1,000 or more per day for gutter installation, and anywhere between $40 and $100 to cart away your old gutters.

So, you could save money if you replace your own gutters (the sectional kind, remember). However, before you pick the DIY route, be aware that it’s a tricky job, requiring balance, strength and often more than one person. It might be smarter to do just some of the work yourself — the disposal of the old gutters, for example — and hire a professional for the actual installation of the new gutters and downspouts.