Sectional versus seamless: it’s an ongoing argument. But there is one fact about seamless that you can’t dispute: unless you plan on buying a $20,000 machine and going into the gutter installation business, you’ll need to hire a contractor to install them, and that means seamless gutters cost more. But is that cost really worth it?
Gutter Helmet works with both types, so we’ve seen both in action, and we can tell you about their benefits and drawbacks.
First, we need to look at what seamless and sectional gutters are. Sectional gutters are pretty much what they sound like: sections of gutter, usually about twenty feet long, that you purchase and cut to fit your needs. Seamless gutters are extruded from metal coils to fit the exact length needed for each part of the system.
Generally, sectional systems will involve a “snap-together” system with silicon gaskets, or will require you to weld sections together, if you need something longer than twenty feet. Sectional can have a lower cost because you can do it yourself relatively easily: a general contractor or experienced handyman will have no problem installing most sectional systems over the course of a calm, quiet weekend, although you may have to coat or paint them, and that may take up more than just one weekend.
However, that’s just installation. Over the long term, you’re going to need to keep checking those gaskets or those welds, and fix them if they break. Checking your gutter system is going to be an ongoing chore, as you’ll need to keep an eye on every single connection point. And that’s in addition to cleaning the gutters out, unless you’ve got a handy cover like Gutter Helmet to protect you.
Seamless gutter systems are much simpler to maintain; after all, they’re just long sections, and the only connecting points will be at the corners and at the downspouts. But that brings us back around to the costs, and the hassle.
Seamless systems are going to cost more than sectional systems: materials and labor just come at a higher price. In addition, like any contracting job, you’re going to have to call around, arrange for free estimates, be there when the contractor shows up, and view the bids with a discriminating eye. In fact, you’ll need a more discriminating one than usual.
$20,000 sounds like a lot of money, but in terms of getting an entry level business, it’s actually pretty cheap. You can expect a lot of gutter contractors no matter where you are … all with varying levels of quality. You’ll need to collect references and, just as importantly, drive by the houses they’ve worked on to see what kind of jobs they did. You’ll also need to make sure the bids include items like carpentry and repairs.
In the end, it comes down to who you are and what your needs are. If you want a simple gutter system, and are comfortable enough with a hacksaw and a welding torch, sectional systems will probably be your best bet. But if you don’t feel quite handy enough, or have a complex job, seamless might be the way to go.