So, perhaps if I describe my particular situation, and ask for advice, it might help. For anyone who takes the time to read through this post and reply, I really appreaciate it.
I'm pretty sure that the gutters on our 1977 house date to 1977. I believe they are aluminum (they are metal at any rate), they are sectional, and I think they need to be replaced. As long as I'm replacing the gutters, I want to do it right.
** Why I think the gutters need to be replaced ** There are many places where water drips through small holes in the gutter instead of following the path down the downspout - especially if the gutters get partially or fully clogged. In some places they no longer have the poper angle for all of the water to drain out. In some places, the facia boards behind the gutters appear to be rotted. In some places, they are now hanging so that water can easily get between the gutter and the facia board. I have made minor tweaks to the gutters to improve things, but the condition of the gutters makes me think that at this point, replacing them would be better than fixing them.
** Why I think I need gutters at all ** There are decks and flower beds around the house. If water falls on the deck, it splatters up agains the doors and rots the wood framing. If water cascades down on the flower beds, it's not so nice for the flowers (if the deer haven't already eaten them). There are some areas around the house with drainage issues (like in front of the garage).
** Conditions at our house ** Roof pitch: about 30 degrees (quite steep). Trees: Lots! Probably worse than living in a pine forest, we live in a hemlock forest. Those tiny needles fill up the gutters really fast (especially if some larger debris manages to block the downspout) and they fell right through the cheap plastic screening I had up for a while. There is also a big oak near the house and various maple and other trees near enough to shed leaves in the gutters. Climate: Ithaca NY. Plenty of rain. Plenty of snow and Ice in in the winter.
** What to do, how much should it cost? ** Should I get plastic/vynil, aluminum or steel gutters? Single piece or sectional? What should I do to prevent leaf/needle accumulation in the gutters? Screens? hoods? those little baskets that keep larger debris from blocking the downspouts? nothing at all? I don't expect to never have to clean the gutters, but as it is now, it needs to be done 3 or 4 times a year to keep things working properly. I would like to minimize that pain. The hemlock needlese seem to wedge themselves into any tiny crack. I haven't measured, but I probably need somewhere in the range of 120 linear feet of gutter (including 2-car garage) and 6 or 7 downspouts (4 or 5 in the 8-12 foot heigh and 2 at a 15 to 20 foot height). I hope to contract this out and not do any of the work myself. How much should I expect to pay for various types of gutters? I don't just want the cheapest solution, but my poketbook is far from botomless. I am willing to pay more for higher quality, but I would like to get the best value for the money.
Thanks for any input.