Most people are familiar with newer style rain gutters like seamless gutters. But what is a box gutter?
Box gutters are older-style gutters with three sides, often lined with another material, like rubber or aluminum, to direct and control water flow from a roof.
Box-style gutters offer more functionality than many types of gutters, so if you need a high-performance gutter, they may be the perfect choice for your home despite their lack of style. In these cases, your home’s exterior cornices and other architectural features can be more prominent, providing style where box gutters lack.
While box gutters are very simple and durable, they appeal to many homeowners, particularly those who enjoy traditional architectural elements or durability.
Let’s look deeper at box gutters, examine some of their pros and cons, and uncover tips for choosing and installing new ones.
What Are Box Gutters?
As mentioned, box gutters are three-sided and usually either square or rectangular. They’re usually wider than other types of gutters and can better accommodate water runoff.
You’re more likely to find box-style gutters on old houses, especially historic ones, in commercial, public, and industrial settings. But they can be sized to fit nearly any roof, although they will excel more than some styles on certain roofs.
For example, on flat roofs, box-style gutters are a more functional solution than typical guttering and will facilitate drainage more easily.
Rather than be secured by a spike, screw, strap, or hanger, box gutters are often supported by a structure’s roof between two valleys or behind a parapet wall. This allows them to handle enormous water volumes yet remain hidden from view behind a wall if you want to conceal them.
However, box gutters can also be installed on fascia using a variety of brackets, straps, and mounting hardware.
Box gutters were originally made from wooden troughs lined with non-corrosive metal, such as galvanized steel and copper.
Today, manufacturers use EPDM (a flat rubber sheet), aluminum, vinyl, or other low-cost, lightweight lining materials that are easily replaceable and repairable.
Box gutters can be almost any size, but the gutter shape will always be square or rectangular, limiting the aesthetic appeal. This may explain why they are less prevalent on modern residences since the gutters often face the street on gable and hip-roofed homes.
Although box-style gutters can still be found on historic homes, structures, and public buildings, you’re more likely to find K-style or half-round gutters on a typical home. These other designs provide curved surfaces for the water to flow over, creating less friction for the water to overcome than box gutters. They are also very simple looking but easily blend into the landscape.
Pros and Cons of Box Gutters
When comparing box gutters vs. regular gutters (K style or half round), note that box gutters are typically more durable but not as visually attractive as the others.
Here are a few of the pros and cons of box gutters as they compare to other options:
- They are more durable and often made from solid materials like galvanized steel. When maintained well, box gutters can require less replacement than other types of gutters.
- Box-style gutters are more customizable and adaptable than other types, as they can be designed and fitted to any roof style or shape, including low-slope roofs.
- They are easy to hide, as they blend in with the roofline and do not interfere with the structure’s architectural features. Box gutter systems are paintable, so builders often paint them the same color as the surroundings, like the fascia or a column.
- Box gutters are typically assembled with few seams, which helps reduce leaks in the long term.
- Box gutters require frequent cleaning and maintenance, as they collect more debris and sediment. This is why many are lined with replaceable sleeves.
- They’re more prone to damage and corrosion, especially when exposed to harsh weather conditions and acidic substances like pine needles or animal droppings.
- Box gutters are often made from steel coated in paint or zinc. If the coating is damaged, steel box gutters will begin to rust.
- The cost of box gutters is often higher than other types of gutters, as they require high-quality materials and skilled labor. They are often used to solve drainage problems created by complex roof designs, which factor into their higher cost.
Tips for Choosing Box Gutters
Carefully choose gutters to ensure they align with your budget and design preferences and are compatible with your roof.
Box gutters are a good option when:
- Your roof design is especially complex or large.
- The climate regularly includes heavy precipitation.
- Your roof meets a parapet wall.
- The design consists of scuppers and/or central drains.
- The gutters need to be hidden to avoid disrupting a planned design theme.
- Your budget is moderate to high.
Following these tips will help you make the best choices regarding your home’s gutter system.
Are Box Gutters Right For Your Home?
The three-sided shape of box-style gutters makes them perfect for flat surfaces like roofs and easy to adapt as needed.
Box gutters can also solve drainage problems, save you money in future repair costs, and remain viable for decades.
But aesthetics are another consideration in choosing your home’s gutters. For example, if you have an older home and want to restore it and render a nostalgic, traditional vibe, box gutters are perfect for that end. They’ve also proven their durability on historic homes as long as they are properly maintained.
On the other hand, if you want more modern and stylish gutters, you might choose a newer gutter style that will enhance your home’s exterior.
The cost of box gutters can be a bit higher than K style, but when homes are custom designed, sometimes regular gutters just won’t work as they detract from the curb appeal. Box gutters are a great solution, as their shape lets them tuck away easily on flat surfaces, so they can be hidden whenever necessary.
We’d love to hear about your experiences with box gutters and how they helped you solve a unique problem. We’re also available to answer additional questions about gutters for your home.
Contact our home improvement specialists for your gutter, siding, and roofing needs. We have local contractors coast-to-coast that have provided service to thousands of satisfied homeowners. We offer a free estimate and valuable advice that culminates from years of experience in the industry.
Are box gutters any good?
What are the disadvantages of box gutters?
What is the difference between gutters and box gutters?
K-style gutters offer a great combination of light weight and strength, and the flat back allows them to connect to nearly any fascia. Half-round gutters are round tubes split in half, almost symmetrical from front to back.
Box gutters take a simple three-sided square or rectangular shape, which fits very nicely between right angles, like when a wall meets a roof. They are very strong, durable, and easily repaired, but they may not improve your home’s curb appeal.