Generally, wood gutters are used to replace old gutters when restoring older homes or in custom building. I consider my log cabin to be a custom home and will consider the installation of wood gutters.
Wood gutters are the most costly option and are made from three types of wood: redwood, cedar and fir. With proper maintenance, redwood gutters can last up to 100 years. Wood gutters are usually 4 x 6 inches in width and height and are sold in 10 and 20 foot lengths. Redwood gutters cost between $16 and $18 per linear foot while fir, the cheapest, will be around $10. Copper, black iron or PVC are commonly used as material for leaders. If desired, the leaders can be boxed in with wood. I have also seen an article espousing rain chains which originated in Japan and are essentially a series of funnels directing the water downward.
Wood gutters are connected by way of a scarfed joint. The ends of the two pieces are cut at the same angle which maximizes the area of connection. The inside ends of the connecting lengths are beveled and the joint is filled with a high quality sealant. The gutters are simply nailed to the facia with galvanized-headed nails through pre-drilled holes. The recommended pitch is ½ inch for every 20 feet.
Downspouts are installed by drilling holes in the gutter that are 1/16 inch smaller than the downspout nipple. The nipple, 3 inches long by 1 3/8 inches in diameter is screwed into the gutter. The nipple will fit into a 1 ½ inch downspout.
Maintenance of wood gutters includes ongoing cleaning and applications of wood protection treatments. Cleaning should be done at least once a year. A spring and fall regimen is recommended. One key to preventing wood rot is to keep the wood dry.
Remove all debris that will retain moisture, e.g., leaves and the pebbles from composition shingles.
The outside of the gutter will be treated just like any other of your log cabin decorative trim using, for example, a stain/sealant. The inside of the gutter should be treated with a non drying oil such as shingle oil. Don’t use a material that will seal moisture in the gutter. If any wood has rotted, remove only the portion that has rotted using a hand planer or rasper.
Despite the higher cost of wood gutters, they are compatible with my vision of a custom built log cabin. The additional maintenance will be a pleasure.