Choosing Gutters for Historic Homes

A recent seamless gutter installation on Rackley St. in Brooksville, FL.  This home in particular is not a historic home, but Brooksville plays host to many stately, historic homes nevertheless.

A recent seamless gutter installation on Rackley St. in Brooksville, FL. This home in particular is not a historic home, but Brooksville plays host to many stately, historic homes nevertheless.

We do a lot of work in Brooksville, FL, which has many, many historic homes. This led us to think about historic homes in general, and what you might want to consider as you start shopping for gutters.

After all, historic homes need water protection just like any other homes do. In fact, they may be even more vulnerable to water, so they definitely need good gutters.

Fortunately, getting the appropriate gutters for your historic home is not necessarily as tricky as it sounds.

Authentic Gutter Materials

Historic gutters are typically made of either metal or wood.

Obviously, wooden gutters are going to be a challenge. You can certainly find them if you have a home that had them once, and you absolutely must put the exact same gutters back on that home.

These gutters would be made of either fir or redwood. Believe it or not wood gutters do last like crazy–they have up to a 50 year lifespan so long as they’re made with the right materials. They’re also super expensive, even more expensive than copper, which is another common historic choice.

Zinc and steel gutters are also quite authentic.

Now, aluminum gutters are newer. But they are still metal, and may just be “authentic enough.” Most people don’t spend a great deal of time inspecting gutters, after all.

We also have the ability to color gutters any way you want. Don’t want to pay $11 to $26 per foot? Get copper colored seamless aluminum gutters at $5 to $9 per foot instead. (See our previous post: How Much Do Gutters Cost?).

Note that we do work with copper if you prefer to go all out. We just know that many customers are cost-conscious these days, and we want to offer as many alternatives as possible.

Authentic Gutter Shapes

Prior the 1960s most gutters were made in what’s called a “half-round” shape, which is just what it sounds like. These semi-circular gutters were quite pretty.

These days, however, the K-style gutter is a lot more common. The K-style does a better job of sticking tight to the roof and thus shunts water more efficiently, unless your home happens to have rounded roof lines.

Our machines are set to cut K-style gutters. Fortunately, again, the shape of the gutters is not usually the first thing the eye picks out. It might technically be a historical inaccuracy, but if so, it’s a very small one.

However, aluminum gutters can be customized. You’ll pay more to get custom cut half-round gutters, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility, either.

Working with Preservation Societies and Programs

You might just have a historic home that you want to live in while keeping it as reasonably authentic as possible. If so, you can do pretty much what you want to do, especially when it comes to gutters. You can even put some flow-free leaf guards in there, because they’ll be super hard to see and they’ll protect the home.

However, you might also be applying for loans or grants specific to restoring historic homes. They exist on the local, state, and federal level.

Each and every one of them has their own rules. So it’s a good idea to double check these rules or to call your program before making decisions about your home’s gutters.

You can find a full list of programs specific to Florida residents, including residents of the Tampa Bay Metro Area, here at The Craftsman Blog. Some of the links do appear to be broken, but a quick check showed that the programs themselves continue to exist. Most notably, the Tampa Preservation Trust Fund; we’ve updated the link here, though they don’t appear to be taking applications as of this writing.

Still, there are plenty of other programs to choose from. You might also want to check out the Historic Hernando Preservation Society if you happen to live in Brooksville.

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