Gutter, Fascia, Soffit and Downpipes FAQ’s

The Basics Of Guttering

Why does my property need gutters?

Gutters are in place to carry rainwater as it falls from your roof. Instead of falling down the side of your home, it is directed down the downpipe of the gutters. This ensures it does not cause problems to the external walls or foundations of your home.

How long do gutters last?

Well-installed gutters can last upwards of 10 – 25 years if they are well maintained. But after a few decades, even well-maintained gutters can become brittle/rotten and susceptible to breaks.

Gutter Problems

How can I tell if my gutters are not working?

If you can hear or see a more concentrated stream of water either hitting the ground or pouring over the tops of the gutters, then it is time to get your guttering system checked. Guttering is designed to deal with the rainfall, so the water should not be overflowing or leaking at any time unless it is blocked or broken. DIY gutter inspections pose all kinds of risks to your safety and the condition of your property.

Why are my gutters leaking?

There are a few different problems that can cause your gutters to leak. They could be blocked, causing water to overflow, or cracked, allowing water to seep out from the joins before reaching the downpipe. Alternatively, they might be sagging or bowed, so water gathers and overflows rather than flowing freely through the pipes. The best way to find out is with a professional inspection.

What has caused the problems with my gutters?

Guttering problems are typically caused by a lack of maintenance. However, improper installation, where gutters are not aligned correctly towards the downpipes, can also lead to several issues. In some cases, your gutters may have been damaged by harsh weather or vandalism. However, they may have simply reached the end of their lifespan.

Can I fix my gutters myself?

In theory yes, but like any work at height, gutter clearance or repairs should not be attempted without the right training. The result will most likely be damage to your gutters, your property and even yourself.

Blocked gutters

Why are my gutters blocked?

Gutters typically become blocked by debris like leaves and twigs as it falls from trees as well as the moss from the roof. Particularly during autumn, this debris becomes saturated with rainwater and stops rainwater flowing freely through the gutters.

How often should my gutters be cleared?

Regular gutter clearing is the real solution to stop gutters becoming blocked and dysfunctional. We recommend annual gutter clearance for most properties, but those with trees nearby should have their gutters cleared every 6 months ideally. However, gutters which can be seen to be overflowing or allowing ingress of water into your property should be serviced asap.

Is it best to wait until the end of autumn to have my gutters cleared?

It is logical to get gutters cleared once all the leaves have fallen from the trees, however, consider that in the months previous, leaves have been falling into gutters and may have been washed into down pipes during this period. In cases where the property is surrounded by trees, it is advised that gutters are cleared regularly during the leaf falling period.

Do I need gutter guards?

Gutter guards are a supposed solution to gutter blockages. However, in practice, leaves tend to become stuck to the outside of the guards, making gutters completely ineffective as water runs straight off the guards and down the side of the property. 

Gutter Replacement

Do my gutters need replacing?

From blockages to cracks and even pulling away, most problems with guttering can be isolated and repaired rather than resorting to a full replacement. However, if large sections of your gutters have become seriously damaged or broken or the existing gutter brand has become obsolete, it would be a better idea to replace the whole guttering system. A professional inspection from a reliable guttering company will give you a better idea.

How long will it take to fix my gutters?

Most gutter repairs can be completed in a matter of hours, while full installations and replacements will usually take about a day. This may be longer for larger properties, or those which are difficult to access.

Types of gutter

What materials are gutters made of?

Gutters in the UK are most commonly made of UPVC, which is lightweight, affordable, and durable in British weather. Other, more expensive, materials are available, like steel, aluminium, and copper, but they are more common in countries with harsher weather. In the UK, where we rarely see sub-zero temperatures, these materials are essentially unnecessary.

What are the different gutter styles?

Gutters come in a variety of materials and profiles to suit different tastes and needs of the property. The most common gutter profiles (shapes) are Half Round, Deep Flow gutters, Square gutters, and Ogee (or K-style) gutters.

  • Half-round gutters– the traditional half-pipe style, common on most properties. Your bog standard, basic gutter that are ideal for most standard properties at a budget-friendly price.
  • Deep Flow gutters – like the half-round, but deeper. Able to cope better with a high-capacity water flow. Ideal for steep roofs and properties in areas prone to heavy rainfall.
  • Square gutters – an angular upgrade to the half-round with a deeper channel. Easier to install, due to the flat surfaces on all sides, and Ideal for contemporary properties.
  • Ogee/K-style gutters – flat backed, for ease of installation, with a decoratively shaped front that can help elevate the look and finish of your property. The deeper channel caused by the shape makes them ideal for roofs with a high-capacity water flow.

 Each of these styles are available in either UPVC plastic or a range of different metals, including cast-iron, steel and copper.

Types of Downpipes

What are the different Downpipe styles?

  • Round/Circular – usually best suited for use with Half-round and Deep gutters.
  • Square – usually best suited for use with Square and Ogee gutters.

Connection pieces for converting square outlets to round, and visa-versa, are readily available though, meaning you can mix and match if you choose.

Downpipes (also known as downspouts) are available in all the same material choices as gutters are (either plastic or a variety of metals), but only two styles: round and square downpipes.

Best gutter choice

Which type of guttering is best?

This will depend on a number of factors, including the size and pitch of your roof, what your budget is and what kind of property you have.

The best recommendation is to go with UPVC plastic for the material, as it is easy to install/repair and very cost efficient, and then either half-round or square profiles for most standard roofs, and deep or ogee profiles for steep roofs or properties in heavy rainfall areas. There is an extensive range of gutter brands that cover all these options, and there is even a cast-iron effect range if you want guttering that has that traditional look but do not want higher costs and maintenance needs associated with that material.

Are round gutters better than square gutters?

Not particularly, it is mostly down to personal choice over how they look. Half-round and Deep gutters do have a smoother internal shape, which can make them a bit easier to clean than Square or Ogee gutters. However, when comparing Square to Half-round and Ogee to Deep, the more angular profiles do tend to have a slight edge when it comes to capacity, since they lose less space to rounded edges.

The best way to choose which style is right for your property is by working out the Effective Roof Area of your property and then matching that to the maximum flow rates of each type of gutter. Follow this helpful guide to determining the right gutter size for your house for help with this.

Is plastic guttering as good as metal?

Plastic can be as good as metal guttering. While it is true that metal guttering systems are generally stronger than plastic systems, and therefore less prone to damage, they are also heavier (making installation more difficult), more expensive and can require more maintenance to keep them weather resistant. Modern UPVC gutters are durable, robust, weather resistant, flexible, easy to install, easy to maintain and very cost efficient.

The biggest benefit metal guttering has over plastic, depending on the type of metal, is a longer lifespan.

Copper and cast-iron, for example, can last you a lifetime if properly looked after. However, they are very expensive which makes them a long-term investment for your property. You could probably replace a standard plastic system a few times over for the price of a copper system… and it will likely serve you just as well. All the guttering material types have their pros and cons though, and all are better suited to certain properties or environments more than others. Rather than asking which one is better, it is more beneficial to ask which one is better for your property and your project.

Check out the article on the different types of guttering for a deeper dive into the options available and what properties they are best suited for.

Fascia and Soffit

Fascia boards and soffits, what are they?

Fascia boards date back to classical Greek architecture. Fascia boards are the horizontal band below the roofline which the guttering attaches to. Most Fascia boards in the UK are now predominantly made from UPVC due to them being so low maintenance and durable. UPVC Soffits bridge the gap between the Fascia board and the brickwork. Very often the Fascia board has a lip, or a groove, in which the Soffit can rest on for additional stability. Together they preserve timber roof structures and brickwork, by transporting water away down the drain. If used in conjunction with the appropriate ventilation, they also prevent condensation in your roof space.

Why should I choose UPVC Fascia Boards over timber?  

UPVC fascia boards, soffits, gutters and cladding now account for 86% of roofline replacement and new builds in the UK.

The reason behind this is simple as UPVC fascia boards are a highly durable, environmentally friendly, cost effective, safe, secure, and robust product. It is now widely recognised that the maintenance (in painting and sanding) and the technical performance of timber (poor thermal efficiency), especially for roofline, is no longer acceptable when compared with UPVC fascia and soffit boards. 

Is there a difference between a Fascia Board and a Bargeboard?

In essence they are the same product, but they are used for slightly different applications. A Fascia Board is commonly situated behind the UPVC gutters, and a Bargeboard is commonly located on an Apex/Gable next to the verge. Both applications can use full replacement Fascia Boards or Capping Boards.

Roofline lingo

Below are the most common phrases that can be referred to as more than one name:

  • Soffits, Also known as, Multi Boards, Flat Board, Planking, Multi Board, Gee Pee & General-Purpose Board.
  • Capping Board, Also known as, reveal liners, Cap Overboard, Cover Board, Cloaking & Window Board.
  • UPVC Trims, Also known as, Trims, Make Up, Window Trims & Arc’s.

Is UPVC environmentally friendly?

Yes. UPVC is 100% recyclable and can be reused up to 10 times. All UPVC fascia boards and UPVC soffits are manufactured using environmentally friendly Calcium Zinc in accordance with Vinyl 2010. 

Do fascia boards discolour?

Fascia boards and soffits do not suffer from discolouration but can become dirty over time due to the environment they are subjected to. However, this is easily resolved by keeping them regularly cleaned. 

Is it better to have a thicker fascia board installed?

A 16mm full replacement fascia board is more than suitable as it is designed to carry the full weight of roof tiles and guttering. These board systems have also been tested and approved by the BBA for wind, snow, and rain loading.

Can I cap over wooden fascia?

The recommendation would be a full replacement of the old timber for a UPVC roofline system as very often you are just papering over cracks by installing new UPVC Capping board over rotten wood.

There are certain circumstances however where installers will use capping boards effectively. Flat roofs for example can be suitable for capping boards if you do not want to disturb the existing roof cover (i.e., Felt or EPDM rubber cover). Some installers also apply a plywood face to the roof joists if they are slightly uneven before applying the new UPVC fascia board.

Is Hollow soffit suitable for use for cladding?

Hollow soffit is only suitable for use as a soffit board, not as external cladding.

How long are fascia boards?

All fascia boards, soffit boards and cladding boards are 5m in length. Gutters on the other hand are 4m in length.

What are fascia box ends?

Fascia box ends are generally situated at the corner of your building. This helps merge the horizontal run of fascia boards and soffits into the bargeboard which then follows the verge line towards the apex. Box ends are constructed using 400mm wide fascia boards as they provide the extra height needed to match the angle of the verge. This is combined with double ended fascia corners for the extra height they provide.