“A glossary of definitions and terminology that explains all parts and accessories of the gutter system.”
Whether you are looking to upgrade your entire gutter system, or just need to replace a couple parts, this gutter index covers it all. In this guide we are going to explain all the gutter components that make up the gutter system. Currently, you can purchase any of these from your local gutter supply company, and in some cases at Home Depot or Lowes. Our gutter definition list will be broken up into categories for easier browsing.
Links to related articles are included throughout this guide.
The rain gutter itself is the most important part of the gutter system. It runs horizontally along the roof edge and collects water to direct it away from the home. In fact, the purpose of gutters is to prevent water from eroding your homes foundation. As well as keeping the water from running down your exterior walls and eventually damaging your home exterior.
Vertical pipes that lead the water from the gutter to the ground level, are known as Downspouts. In addition to that, they are also known as water spout, down pipe, drain spout, or drain pipe.
The most popular style of gutter that you will see on most homes, is the K-style gutter. Because they are the strongest, handle the most water flow, and look the best. For example, they are designed to complement the homes exterior by resembling crown molding. In conclusion, their name comes from the “K” shape that they simulate.
If your looking for an old fashioned look to your home, half-round gutters are the way to go. For instance, Half-Round gutters offer a more historical and elegant look than the standard K-style gutters. They are basically “half a circle.” You’ll find these on older homes to complement the rustic look.
Larger sized gutters (6″ and up) are usually box style gutters. For example, box style are mostly found on commercial buildings. They are designed to handle much more water than normal gutters, which is why you’ll find them on commercial buildings with larger roofs.
K-Style, Half Round, and Box style gutters are available in High Back style. Basically, the back of the gutter has an extra section that is meant to tuck under a metal roofing system. It’s designed so the water has no chance of getting under the shingles. In addition to that, these gutters have to go on before the roof installed, so they aren’t very popular.
The most popular option for K-Style or Half-Round gutters, are seamless. Basically it means that one entire length of gutter is one solid piece with no seams. First, homes will be measured. Next, the gutters will be custom made to fit the homes specifications. In conclusion, the more seams you have the more leaks you will have. For this reason, seamless is always the best option.
Sectional Gutters are the opposite of Seamless Gutters. They come in 10 or 20 foot sections that are fitted together with “slips joints.” Therefore, having many seams is the downside to sectional gutters. On the other hand, if one section gets damaged you only have to replace that one section compared to the entire gutter when it’s seamless.
The most popular material gutters are made from, is aluminum. Because, aluminum gutters resist rust and the metal won’t thin over time. They are rated to last longer than Copper or Steel. Also, being lighter makes them easier to install. In addition to that, aluminum gutters come in a variety of color options so you can match your homes exterior.
The most expensive style of gutters that you can purchase, are copper gutters. For example, you will mostly see these in the Half-Round style. They are used on older homes to complement the more traditional look. However, always remember that copper oxidizes and forms a patina over time, so these gutters will eventually end up turning green.
Vinyl Gutters are pretty self explanatory: gutters made from vinyl, plastic, or PVC. If you were to go to Home Depot or Lowes to purchase gutters, these are what you would find. For one thing, they never corrode or dent which is a plus. However, they don’t last as long as traditional gutters as they bend or warp quickly.
Galvanized Steel Gutters are made from hot-dip steel. They are stronger and more durable than aluminum or copper, but they are also much heavier which makes them come loose more easily. Because, the heavy weight is a huge burden on the gutter hangers. In addition to that, it should be noted that these rust very quickly and deteriorate much faster than all other gutters.
When you have 2 sections of gutter that come to a corner on the outside of the home, they are joined together by a miter box. For example, it is called an outside miter if the corner is on the outer edge of the home. Miter boxes are corner joints for gutters. The 2 gutter sections slide into the box like sleeves.
When you have 2 sections of gutter that meet at an inside corner, they are joined together by an inside miter box. Likewise, the 2 sections of gutter slide into the sleeves of the miter, then they are sealed.
Strip Miters perform the same duty as miter boxes. However, the only difference is that they are a small strip instead of a big box. They are a small sleeve that covers the seam. Also, strip miters can be used for inside or outside corners.
End Caps are put on the ends of gutter sections to give a more finished look. In addition to that, they prevent the water from escaping once sealed properly.
When joining 2 sectional gutters together on a straight wall, the seam will be covered by a slip joint.
Some homes have issues where water splashes up and over the gutters. Likewise, the technicians can add splash guards to the existing gutter, so the water splashes back into the gutter. For example, water will splash over the gutter if it’s under a roof valley.
All the different types of hangers, nails, screws, and brackets that mount the gutters to the wall, are known as gutter brackets.
Gutter hangers are the mounting hardware used to hang half round style gutters. However, unlike most other ways to hang gutters, these hangers are mounted to the fascia board “before” the gutter. Finally, once the gutter hangers are properly installed, you can drop the gutter into place and secure it.
The new industry standard for K-Style gutters, is Heavy Duty Aluminum Screw-In Hidden Hangers. They clip onto the lip and backs of the gutter and pull it uniformly to the wall. In conclusion, that combined with a self tapping threaded screw makes these last a lot longer than traditional gutter spikes.
Gutter Spikes are gutter nails that go through the outside of the gutter and into the fascia. It should be noted that over time they pull loose and need to be re-nailed or “tightened” back into place. However, you can only tighten gutter spikes so many times before the hole is too wore out. Therefore, they will no longer grip and come loose frequently.
Gutter Screws are the same exact thing as a gutter spike. Likewise, they also go through the outside of the gutter and into the fascia board. The only difference is a Gutter Screw is a giant threaded screw, instead of a giant nail. Moreover, you can replace loose gutter spikes with gutter screws. Because they will catch hold where the nail couldn’t find any grip.
A Ferrule is a spacer that goes around the gutter spike or gutter screw, inside the gutter. It’s basic function is to space out the gutter and not allow it to cave in from tightening of the hardware. In conclusion, using Ferrules insures that the gutter is the exact same width all the way across the home.
Downspouts are available in all the same materials as their gutter counterparts. Furthermore, you need to use the same material you used for your gutters as your downspouts. For example, certain metals react with other metals differently, causing them to corrode.
Aluminum Gutters and Downspouts are the most widely used gutter material worldwide. For one thing, they are known to be the best value for the price. Because, they perform better and last longer than most of the others.
Copper Gutters and Downspouts are known for being the most expensive. Also they are strictly decorative.
Vinyl Gutters and Downspouts are known for being rust, corrosion, and dent resistant. Being light weight makes them easy to install for the average person. The price is on the lower end of gutter materials.
Galvanized Steel Gutters and Downspouts are made from steel as the name suggests. They are much heavier than all the other gutter options, making them difficult to install. Consequently, the extra weight is a constant burden on your home, making these the option that falls from the wall most often.
This type of downspout is usually used for larger commercial buildings that use Box Style gutters. They actually are rectangle in shape (not squared) and come in sizes like 2×3, 3×4, 4×6, etc….
The most popular style of downspout, is the corrugated square downspout. Corrugated ridges add structure and support to the sheet metal downspout. These are usually used with K-style gutters. Just like the Square Downspout, these come in rectangle sizes like 2×3, 3×4, 4×6, etc….
Round Downspouts are circular in shape. They offer a much smoother look than the corrugated style, and are also much more popular. These come in sizes ranging from 2″ all the way up to 8″.
Same thing as a Round Downspout, but these have the corrugated ridges to offer support and durability. Moreover, you’ll see these paired up with Galvanized Steel Gutters.
Commonly referred to as a “rain leader” or “gutter leader”, a conductor head is a funnel at the top of a downspout. These are used to control the flow and keep run off to a minimum. They come in many shapes and sizes, but all serve the same function. Keep in mind these ornamental leaders are mostly found with copper gutters.
Whenever the gutter needs to go through a wall, a scupper box is usually involved. Scupper Boxes serve the same function as the conductor head. They are usually attached to the top of the downspout and direct the water in the correct direction. More commonly used in conjunction with flat roofs to provide a drain for excess water. Another common use is to carry water through a roof or a wall, to the outside of the building.
An adapter that allows 2 downspouts to connect and lead into 1. These get their name from their “Y” like shape.
These are basically an upside down “Y” adapter with a switch to divert the water into 2 separate locations. Often used with a rain barrel, once the barrel fills with water you can flip the switch and the water will divert to the other downspout.
Home owners commonly add a downspout extension to their existing downspout, to direct the water away from the homes foundation. Common downspout extension ideas can range from an additional sections of gutter, to corrugated PVC flex pipe.
More commonly known as an “underground drain” because these drains are installed underground when the home is built. These drains direct the water underground and usually lead to the street or the sewer. It is always suggested to have gutter covers on your entire gutter system, if you have underground drains. As they can clog pretty easily and possibly rupture underground, often flooding your home.
Brackets used to secure the downspout to the wall. Their is many shapes and sizes but all serve the same function. It should be noted that certain metals react with other metals, so you should check to see what hardware is compatible with your gutter material.
Downspout Adapters come in many shapes and sizes, but they generally all do the same thing, connect downspouts. You can connect a square downspout to a round downspout, or even connect a 3″ downspout to a 5″ downspout. Or maybe you have a weird angle and there’s no elbow available that will work, in that case you can get a flexible downspout adapter.
Downspout Elbows are attached at the bottom of the downspout. They are set at an angle so the water is directed away from the home. Elbows can also be used throughout the downspout to make it around corners, bump outs, and any other obstacles in the way of the downspout.
These elbows are used for square gutters. An “A-Style” elbow appears to come at you. This is the type of elbow commonly used at the bottom of downspouts to direct the water from the home. When attached it diverts the water either forwards or backwards.
Also used for square gutters. The “B-Style” elbows are used to turn the downspout in a different direction. For example, if you need to move your downspout to the right or to the left, you would use a B-Style elbow.
Round Elbows can neither be considered an “A” or “B” style elbow, because they can be used for either function. These elbows are only used with other non-corrugated round downspouts.
These square elbows are exclusively used with square downspouts. They are available as “A” or “B” elbows and serve the same functions as all other downspout elbows.
More commonly known as the “Bump-Out” elbow. These elbows are used when there is a small or large brick ledge or any other obstacle that blocks a straight path from the gutter to the ground.
Brush Style Gutter Guards are one of the least recommended styles available on the market. They are basically a long round brush that gets placed inside your gutter. Brush Gutter Guards trap debris and block the flow of water, which are two things you don’t ever want going on in your gutters.
More commonly known as the “Foam Insert”. These are another of the least popular styles of gutter covers. Likewise, their name speaks for itself, it is a foam insert that goes in your gutter, instead of on top like most covers. If not cleaned regularly, plants can take root in your foam insert and grow. Also, mold is a common problem with these.
Gutter Screens are the most common type of gutter cover because they are the cheapest and easiest to install. They come in many shapes, styles, and materials but they all provide the same coverage. They are good at allowing all the water into the gutter. But, with the larger sized holes they allow a lot of smaller debris into the gutter system, such as pine needles and seeds.
Designed with layers of channels, these gutter covers allow the debris to flow right over the gutter and onto the ground. However, smaller debris like pine needles are known to get stuck in the channels and block the water from entering the gutter system. For instance, you will have waterfalls all around your house once this happens.
Micro Mesh Screens are a 2 part system. The bottom layer usually features an offset vertical slant system designed to allow water in and keep debris out. Sometimes the bottom layer is just a simple gutter screen. The top layer is always a mesh screen, usually made of metal, that keeps the fine debris and particles from the slits. In conclusion, these perform well against pine needles and seed pods.
Reverse Curve/Surface Tension gutter guards have more common names such as “Gutter Helmet” or “Gutter Hood.” They are designed to allow all the leaves and debris to fall to the ground, while collecting as much water as possible. The water doesn’t always flow into the gutter and often cascades right over the edge, earning this style the nickname “Waterfall.“
We rate this as the top performing and longest lasting style of gutter cover on the market. Hence, this is the only style of gutter cover that we even work with anymore. For example, it performs the best against smaller debris such as pine needles or even shingle grit. The perforated holes allow the maximum amount of water to flow into the gutter system, while keeping out almost all debris.
Some gutter covers come in a variety of colors to match your gutter parts. While other brands might only come in one color. Keep in mind that most styles of gutter cover are not visible from the ground, therefore the color is not important.
Although not technically part of the gutter system, the components on the roofing eave are equally as important. These parts make sure that water doesn’t get behind your walls or under your roofing shingles.
Drip edge is tucked under the roofing shingles on the roof edge and leads the water into the gutter. It’s purpose is to make sure no water goes under the shingles or behind the gutter.
Most gutters are mounted to this trim board that is called fascia board. It covers the gap left on the edge of the roofing rafters. The purpose is to make sure water and pests aren’t able to get into your attic and walls. Over time water will damage your fascia board and cause it to rot. In the photo below you see fascia board that starting to pull loose from the rafters. We included this photo because it shows you the functions of the fascia board. (cover rafters and mount the gutters)
Rake board is similar to fascia board, as it is the exact same type of wood. The only difference is rake boards are slanted and used for roofing peaks. In the photo below you see rake board and if you look closely you will see the drip edge strip that runs across the top.
To prevent water damage to your fascia board and rake board, you can choose to have them wrapped in materials like aluminum or vinyl. This new protective shield will help your fascia board or rake board last 2 to 3 times longer than unprotected wood.
Was every term you were searching for covered? Moreover, do you have any suggestions for new terms to be included in our glossary? Let us know in the comments.
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