Q. My house needs new gutters. It is a large ranch design, so a lot of gutter is needed. Is it possible to have a gutter company come and form the long gutters for me so I can install them myself?
Yes, it is possible, and this is commonly done by homeowners to reduce the cost of the new gutters. In general, you can expect to pay about $2 per foot for the gutters and all the related hardware and fasteners required. If you have them professionally installed, the cost is often about double this amount.
You should be able to find gutter fabricators listed in your local Yellow Pages. Their trucks carry rolls of the flat gutter sheet metal and a roll-forming machine. You can select a profile and size of gutter you want. The fabricator will form the gutters to the various lengths you need for each side of your roof.
Another option, which is not as good as using a gutter fabricator, is to buy preformed gutters at your local home-center store. These are usually available in 10-foot lengths. The quality of the materials is as good as what is used by the fabricators, but these short lengths require many joints and seams. This increases the possibility of leaks, and it takes more time to install.
When you select the gutter profile, consider the size you need. The size of gutters is measured across the top. Your typical choices are 5- or 6-inch gutters. Five-inch gutters are less expensive and slightly lighter to handle, but they cannot hold as much water in a hard rain. If your area typically has heavy downpours, it would be best to select 6-inch gutters.
There are quite a few different types of gutter hardware and fittings you will need various-size outlets, outside and inside miters, elbows, downspouts, end caps and hangers. Even though it costs a little more, it is best to buy these from the gutter fabricator to be sure they perfectly fit their gutter profiles.
You have two size choices for downspouts 2 by 3 inches or 3 by 4 inches. In typical rain amounts, the smaller downspout can handle the water flow from about 600 square feet of roof area. The larger downspout can handle about twice that much roof area. The cost is not significantly different, so if you do not mind the appearance of the larger downspouts, select them.
When the fabricator forms the long gutter sections at your home, have them made several inches longer than you actually need. The shearing operation on the fabrication equipment can sometimes leave rough or deformed ends. You will likely have to cut off several of the ends to get the end caps and miters to fit on properly.
Cutting the thin gutter material without deforming it can be a little tricky. First, support the long gutter on sawhorses. Attach two blocks to the top of each sawhorse so the gutter does not slide back and forth. Use a fine-tooth hacksaw blade to cut the front so the profile detail is not deformed. The bottom and back can be cut with tin snips because they are flat. Wear heavy gloves because the cut edges, especially from the snips, can be sharp.