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November 5, 2019 | by Mike Milliman

What are Box Gutters and When Should You Use Them?

Box gutters are found primarily on older homes and structures that were built in the late 1800s until the early 1900s. They are much different from the gutters you’ll find on more modern homes, but at the time, only box gutters and copper gutters were readily available. Though they aren’t used very often anymore, there are times when you might prefer them. Here is everything you need to know about box gutters and the right time to use them.


What Makes a Box Gutter Different?


Unlike today’s gutters, which are made entirely from metal, box gutters were made from a wood frame covered by a very thin sheet of metal – typically something like stainless steel, copper, or galvanized steel that was readily available and would not corrode. What’s more, these gutters were built into the roof overhang or onto the bottom part of the roof itself. This is much different from today’s gutter systems, which are installed separately from the home.


The Pros and Cons of Box Gutters


Box gutters offer only one real benefit over today’s modern gutters – because they are made of wood, they blend in with the home’s architecture rather than standing out. This is ideal in some situations when no traditional gutter – not even copper – would do a historical building justice. In other words, they are completely concealed from view and therefore do not interrupt the historic aesthetic.


On the other hand, box gutters have some downsides that you should be aware of. They are often very expensive, and while this is due in part to the wood needed to build them, part of the cost can be attributed to the fact that they must be custom-made for every installation. They also require more careful maintenance than today’s metal gutters to help prevent standing water, which is especially common in these applications. Finally, it is not uncommon to find rotting wood that must be replaced immediately in order to prevent further damage to the building.


Should You Use Box Gutters?


The decision to use box gutters is often a personal one, and most people who want to renovate historic homes or buildings make their decisions based on two factors. The first, of course, is aesthetics. If you own a historic property that you want to restore to its former glory, box gutters may be the only option. The other important factor is cost. As noted, it is far more expensive to install box gutters due to the cost of the wood and the labor that goes into crafting and installing them. You may be better off installing traditional gutters or even copper gutters if the costs associated with installation or even maintenance are too high, and offers everything you would need for such an installation.


Box gutters were once incredibly popular, but in today’s day and age, homeowners, and businesses alike find that metal and even vinyl gutters that hang directly from the roof or the building are far less expensive and much easier to clean and maintain. Be sure to consider the pros and cons very carefully before you make your decision.

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About the Author
Mike is managing partner at Gutter Supply Inc. and has over 20 years of experience in the industry. His expertise and vast knowledge of the industry, along with his priority on customer service, has contributed to the continued success of Gutter Supply, it’s contractor customers and homeowner DIY’s.

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