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

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

If your home’s gutters 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 $350 or so, while outfitting a large house with top-of-the-line copper gutters can cost $6,000 or more.

How much do gutters cost? Depends on the material

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.
  • Seamless gutters: $800-$5,000 per house. Seamless gutters are cut specifically to fit your home. Because they come in one solid piece, they resist leaks and cracks and require little maintenance. People who choose seamless gutters pay more upfront for stress-free maintenance and longevity.

If your house needs gutters, a personal loan might be the perfect way to finance the deal.

Additional materials to extend the life of your gutters

New gutters are an investment in your home’s future. To protect that investment, you may want to purchase gutter guards ($6), heat tape ($77 for a 100-foot roll), a downspout screen ($8) or a wire mesh screen ($1 per square foot). Each of these add-ons can prolong the life of your gutters and save you on costly gutter cleaning services, which average $75 each. Additional materials you’ll likely need are splash blocks and drains ($10), flashing ($10) and gutter hangers ($2 and up).

What about labor costs? Do you need to hire a professional?

Many homeowners choose to replace their gutters themselves. However, before you opt for a DIY approach, make sure you have the tools and know-how to complete the project properly. One option is to do some aspects of the project yourself while hiring a professional for others.

For instance, you may be able to remove old gutters yourself. Stay safe, though: If your home has tricky roof angles or is particularly tall, consider hiring a professional.

Once you’ve decided to hire a pro, seek out quotes from multiple contractors. Each one should provide you with a detailed quote that outlines how much the gutters will cost in materials and labor. For an average sized home, a contractor should be able to complete a gutter installation in one day—or approximately seven hours of labor. If you’re unsure who to hire, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations of trusted contractor.

Use Bankrate’s calculator to figure out how much house you can afford to buy.