The Best Size Gutters for Your Home: Free Guide

Homeowner looking at their size gutters

So it’s time to replace or add new gutters to your home. What size gutters do you pick? Let’s find out!

There are a few factors to think about as you pick a gutter size. In this post, we’ll discuss:

  • Technical factors
  • Personal preferences
  • How to pick a rain gutter size

As a quick note, we want to go over the different sizes available for residential gutters. There are two typical sizes, along with some smaller options and larger custom options. The most common sizes today are 5 inch and 6 inch gutters. Some older homes still have 4 inch gutters, but those are becoming more rare. On commercial buildings or large custom homes, you may see oversized gutter options in 7 inch or 8 inch sizes.

The inches refer to the width of the gutter trough. While an inch may not seem like much, it increases the total volume significantly. As an example, a 6 inch gutter will hold 40% more water than a 5 inch gutter.

In addition to the rain gutter sizes, you also have different downspout sizes. The most common downspout sizes are 2×3 inch or 3×4 inch (measuring the width and depth of the downspouts).

Phew! Okay, now that we know what gutter size options there are, let’s figure out what size is best for your home!

Technical factors that influence the best size gutters

The two biggest factors that influence what size gutters you should install are the climate and the size and structure of your house. Let’s start with climate.


Home in arid climate with no gutters


How much rainfall do you get each year? Is it usually light or heavy rain? In the Raleigh, North Carolina area, for example, we receive the full spectrum of weather with sun, snow, light rain, heavy rain, and even hurricanes.

Heavy storms can easily overwhelm your gutter system as the rainwater flows into the gutters. This is especially true if you live in a wooded area. Your gutters can quickly fill with leaves, which will lead to an overflowing gutter

For more arid climates, or areas with minor to moderate rainfall, rainfall and gutter overflow isn’t much of a concern. In some cases, you may not even need gutters at all.


What about temperature? If you live in a colder climate with heavy snowfall, many people opt for smaller gutters. Since homes in colder climates are prone to ice dams, a smaller gutter means a smaller ice dam, as less ice can accumulate in the gutter trough. This can keep your gutters from coming loose.

If you live in a cold climate but need large gutters, you can take precautions by using more gutter hangers (preferably speed screw hangers) & making sure your fascia is in good condition.


Lastly, how many trees are in your area and around your property? The more trees you have on your property, the quicker your gutters can clog. If you have gutter guards, this is less of a concern. However, if you do not have gutter guards, large gutters will help with water flow since it takes longer for the gutters to fill with debris.

Your Home

Home with large roof and complex roofline that needs larger size gutters

Roof Size

What is the roof area? A larger roof catches more rainfall that must drain into the gutters. A larger roof equals larger gutters.

What number of eaves does your house have? Eaves are any parts of the roofline that run parallel to the ground. The more eaves you have, the less water each gutter section will need to catch since the roof can drain off to multiple areas. More eaves mean smaller gutters.

Roofing Material

Next, what type of roof do you have? Metal, slate, and tile roofs allow for quicker water flow compared to asphalt shingle roofs. The water can quickly rush into the gutters. A slicker roof with less friction could mean larger gutters.

Shape & Pitch

Most importantly, what is the shape and pitch of your roof?

By shape, we mean how complex is your roof? Do you have a simple gable roof? Or do you have multiple areas that direct the water into one valley and gutter? Does your house have multiple stories where an upper gutter drains all the water into a lower gutter?

Roofs with large valleys or second-story gutters usually need larger gutters to handle the large amount of waterflow directed into certain areas.

And what about roof pitch? In technical terms, the roof pitch factor is the steepness of your roof shown as a ratio of inches (height/rise) to feet (horizontal length). But all you really need to know is that the larger the pitch, the steeper the roof. A steeper pitch means faster flowing water into your gutters, just like with slicker roof materials.

Current Gutters

Finally, what gutters do you have now? Do they work well, or do they tend to overflow? If the size you currently have works well, then you can keep that size. But if you’ve noticed overflowing during heavy rainfall, or that the gutters clog too quickly, you can upgrade to a bigger size.

Preferences that influence the best size gutters

Home with k-style gutters and slate roofing system

Yes, technical factors are important, but remember this is your home. Let your personal preferences help you make that final decision.

First off, what style gutters are you looking for? Do you want half round gutters or a K style gutter? If you are looking for half round gutters, you may want to consider a larger gutter size. Due to their shape, half round gutters hold less water overall than K style gutters.

Next, what gutter material do you want? Most gutter materials come in at least 5 inch and 6 inch options including aluminum, zinc, steel, and copper. Vinyl gutters are the only material that does not come in 6 inch. Still, what is available will depend on what area of the country you live in and what your local gutter companies will install.

Thirdly, are you open to different size gutters throughout the property? If so, you could install larger gutter sections in the areas with more water runoff, and smaller gutters in areas with less runoff. This is a good option if you only need a partial gutter replacement, or if you want a certain look for your gutters at the front of the house, but don’t care as much about the back of the house.

Last but not least, will you be installing gutter guards on top of the gutters? High-quality gutter guards can promote better water flow, prevent clogged gutters, & provide some protection against ice dams. By choosing to pair quality gutter guards or leaf covers with your gutters, you are guaranteeing a better functioning gutter system, regardless of the size of the gutters.

Caveat: Even with a gutter guard, you may still need bigger gutters.

So what are the right size gutters for my house?

Gutter technician measures the gutter length

We know that was a lot of information, so how does it work together? Here you can download a short free quiz to help you decide what size gutter is right for your home.

But what about the importance of each factor? That is a great question. This is where intuition comes into play. If you have a relatively simple roof, for example, but the roof is extremely large and metal, you can deduce that 6″ gutters would be better.

If you are still unsure, you can also reach out to a local gutter expert. They will be able to inspect your home and offer gutter sizing for your property.

Final Advice on Gutter Installations

Above all, what matters more than the right gutter size is the quality of the materials and the workmanship. Regardless of what size gutters you choose, make sure the gutters are secured properly with speed screw hangers and with the right number of hangers. Not only that, make sure that your gutter contractor thoroughly inspects the fascia boards behind the gutters and replaces any rotted or damaged wood. By ensuring a quality installation, you can be confident that your gutters will be secure and function properly.

Looking to install or upgrade your gutters? Quality Seamless Gutters specializes in 6″ seamless gutter systems. We install aluminum gutters for their customizable options and affordability. Because North Carolina has plenty of trees and lots of rain, we find that 6″ gutters work best on most properties. Click here for a free estimate or inspection!