Often viewed as the red-headed stepchild of a residential roofing system, gutters are an integral part of your roof and the first line of defense against water damage to your home or foundation. But what if your gutters played more than a functional role in your roof – what if they added to the curb appeal of your home while extending your roofing dollar? If that seems desirable, then you need to consider Half Round Gutters.
And if you are considering half-round gutters, we should talk. As one of Connecticut’s premier Historic Roof Restoration companies, we have significant experience and expertise in specifying and installing copper half-round gutters on historically significant buildings such as The Oak Cabin at Killingworth’s Chatfield Hollow. But these gutters are not just for older structures – they can look great and add value to a variety of contemporary residential roof installations spanning from architectural asphalt, slate or tile roofs, or cedar shingles, such as this expansive beach residence in Westport, CT.
What Are Half Round Gutters?
Half-round gutters are one of the oldest types of gutters on the market; they were popularized in the early 1900s when metal roll machines first came into regular use. Prior to that, in some instances, they were made out of hollowed-out tree branches. Today, they are made with much more durable materials and have much better functionality.
Half-round gutters are exactly what they sound like – a half-circular, open-topped metal trough with a curved edge (called a bead) on either one or both sides. The curved top on the edge helps to deal with water runoff and makes them more functional. You can choose from several different materials – galvanized steel, aluminum, or copper, for example, a variety of different colors and widths, and also choose to have them installed in sections, or without seams. Each of these factors will be influenced by your budget.
That said, when it comes to half-round gutters, while they are pricier – the seamless approach has distinct advantages. You never have to worry about leaks or problems in the seams and links, and they are even smoother than seamed half-round gutters (more on that in a moment).
Benefits of Half Round Gutters
One of the first benefits of selecting Half Round gutters for your home is that the inside of a half-round gutter is smooth; especially when compared to the far more typical K-style gutter (which has a more rectangular or square shape and features numerous linear indentations). The undisturbed surface of the half-round gutter helps to prevent the metal from corroding over time as there aren’t as many creases to stop water and allow it to pool up.
What’s more, the smoothness also helps rain or meltwater to flow more effectively through the gutter which promotes the flow of debris through the gutter and down the downspout. This prevents roof or tree debris from getting trapped and clogging your gutter system.
Another benefit is that half-round gutters do not require much in the way of maintenance. If you have a densely wooded yard, you will have to clean them in the fall (unless you purchase covers, which are available), but you should not have issues mold or mildew. And if you’ve opted for seamless gutters, leaks should never be a problem.
Finally, the unique, custom aesthetic associated with half-round gutters is very appealing. Without a doubt, they will give your roof a unique appearance that will engender approving nods from visitors and neighbors alike. And the natural oxidation process of copper half-round gutters will provide an ever-changing patina as the gutters age.
The Drawbacks of Choosing Half Round Gutters
With all those benefits, you’d think every home would have half-round gutters. There are some reasons why homeowners opt for the more traditional K-style gutters. The first is cost. While we at Connecticut Roofcrafters are able to provide excellent-quality half-round gutters at the most reasonable prices available, they are more expensive than your typical gutters. This is because of the materials used (copper, galvanized steel, or powder-coated aluminum as opposed to vinyl or painted aluminum). Also, K-style gutters are designed to be affixed directly to the fascia of most contemporary houses – you need more bracketing to affix half-round gutters.
Another consideration is that half-round gutters may also hold less water than your average K-style gutter. They are also usually going to be heavier, because of the type of material that is used to make them. This makes them a bit more difficult to install and keep secured as well. Just be sure that you use a professional contractor to install them to ensure that they are secure and safe.
Materials for Your Half Round Gutters
As mentioned above, there are a variety of materials from which half-round gutters can be manufactured. We have a long-standing relationship with Berger Building Products for the materials from which we fabricate our gutters; you can learn more about Berger’s gutter manufacturing process in this Manufacturing Marvel’s segment.
First, there are aluminum gutters which are likely one of the most popular options. They are quite durable but aren’t overly expensive. Aluminum is also not prone to rusting, unlike steel and other metals. You can also choose from a variety of different colors, giving you more freedom for the look of your gutters.
Another popular choice is steel gutters which are typically galvanized. This gives them a lifespan of approximately 20 years before rust becomes an issue. Steel is also more expensive than aluminum, so you should be aware that they may cost a bit more. They are, however, a lot more durable than aluminum gutters which will help them stand up to the impact of blown objects in a climate such as Connecticut where falling small tree branches can be quite common in winter (we’re not saying they will stand up to heavier limbs).
Our favorite material to work with is copper, which is very traditional so we use it often on our historic restorations. 16 oz or 20 oz copper gutters are much more durable than most of the other gutter options and are suitable in a wide variety of climates. Be forewarned, however, that if you are selecting copper for its shiny luster, that will start to fade and change colors. However, to us, there is nothing more beautiful than a cedar roof faded to ash grey accompanied by a copper gutter looking like an old penny.
Regarding the size of these gutters, we generally recommend 6” gutter width here in Connecticut – 5” width seems to get overwhelmed during heavy rain events and larger sizes rarely seem needed.
We’ve talked about the beauty and brawn of half-round gutters but now we move onto our favorite aspect of them – the traditional installation process. Here at Connecticut Roofcrafters, we have a passion for old-world craftsmanship and there is nothing as timeless in the roofing trade as putting copper half-round gutters on a slate-roofed structure.
Once the gutter material has been selected, we do a thorough inspection of the structures fascia to make sure it is suitable for gutter attachment. We will replace or repair fascia as needed due to rot or other damage.
The next step is to mark the slight slope needed to assure water runs down the gutter toward the downspout – we generally recommend a ½ inch slope for every ten feet of gutter. Once this is done, we install the brackets – typically one every three feet or so.
The next step is to determine the location of the downspout and create a hole in the gutter to accommodate it. We then polish and solder the joints in the gutter and hang it. Once this is done, we add the downspout, polish, and weld it in place. The final step in securing the downspout with brackets.
In closing, for the right project with the right budget, we think half-round gutters add an appealing look to your home while providing far better performance over time versus regular K-style gutters. They offer trouble-free roof drainage, increase the potential resale value of your home, and, in the case of copper, are fabricated from recyclable, Eco-friendly materials. What’s more, if you live along the shoreline here in Connecticut, they are highly suitable for marine environments.
If you are interested in discussing half-round gutters as replacements or as part of a re-roofing project, please feel free to contact us.