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The 5 Most Common Gutter Material Types for Your Home

The 5 Most Common Gutter Material Types for Your Home

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Gutter systems protect our homes by redirecting water away from any structures. They prevent costly damages caused by rain.

There are many gutter materials to pick from, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Your choice of material matters because some may last longer than others.

Today, we’ll review the most common gutter material types, and find out why you should use them.

The Top 5 Most Common Gutter Materials

Before buying a material, you should decide on the best for you. Consider the price, appearance, and performance.

With that in mind, these are five of the most common gutter materials.

1 – Aluminum

Aluminum gutters are the most popular to date. It’s lightweight, affordable, and corrosion-resistant.

This type of gutter is fabricated on-site by suppliers. Aluminum gutters are easy to install, and they come in various colors that match your home.

Because the material is malleable, manufacturers can bend it into any shape or length without making any seams. Being seamless is a selling point because it means that there are no parts within the material where water might leak.

Having aluminum gutters will give your home a relaxed, modern feel.

Do Aluminum Gutters Rust?

Aluminum gutters don’t rust but they might corrode in acidic or salty water. Make sure to avoid using cleaning chemicals that could damage your gutter.

Moreover, because of its bendability, this type of material is more easily punctured than steel.

Aluminum Gutter Lifespan and Price

According to Architectural Digest, aluminum gutters can last 10 to 20 years. You may buy them for $10 to $12 per linear foot.

2 – Vinyl

A vinyl gutter is probably the cheapest option there is. Vinyl comes from PVC plastic, which makes it super light and waterproof.

The selling point of this material is that it’s easy for people to install without the help of professionals. It’s perfect for those who want to DIY their gutter.

You can buy this type of gutter in segments, meaning it’ll have seams. Though some may argue that seams leak, it’s easily replaceable should a part gets damaged.

Having vinyl gutters makes sense considering that it’s one of the top materials for underground water pipes.

Are Vinyl Gutters Better Than Aluminum?

Vinyl is better for first-timers who want to construct their gutter by themselves.

It’s also good because you can replace damaged segments, unlike aluminum. Because aluminum gutters come in one piece, you’ll have to replace the whole thing if it gets severely damaged.

However, aluminum gutters are more weather resistant. Vinyl doesn’t do great in extremely hot or cold environments.

Vinyl Gutter Lifespan and Price

Vinyl is the most economical option. You can buy it for $6 per linear foot.

In terms of lifespan, it doesn’t fall far behind aluminum. Vinyl gutters can last for 10 to 15 years.

3 – Copper

If you’re the type who’d love a vintage look, then copper gutters would be your top choice! The material became popular in the 1800s, and it’s still in use today.

Copper gutters are a smart choice because they’re low maintenance and easy to solder. It means that you can get leak-proof welding with the material.

This type of gutter is corrosion and rust-resistant, however, it does expand or contract depending on temperature. You’ll need to build expansion joints into the gutter to compensate.

Do Copper Gutters Turn Green?

Yes. When copper gets exposed to water and air, it’ll develop a blue-green sheen on its surface called patina.

Some people like the look of old copper, but others might want to use a coating to prevent discoloration.

Copper Gutter Lifespan and Price

There’s a reason why copper is still a popular choice today. It’s because copper gutters can last up to 150 years!

Of course, expect to pay a premium for this durability. A linear foot of the material can cost upwards of $23.

4 – Zinc

Zinc is another type of gutter material you’d find in historical homes.

What’s great about it is its high resistance to hot and freezing temperatures. It’s also rust and corrosion-proof.

It may be a bit hard to solder. Yet, due to its advantages, it’s become favored as a coating for other types of metals.

Galvanized steel, for example, is stainless steel that’s coated with zinc. It’s even possible to use galvanized steel as a gutter material!

Does Zinc Change Color Over Time?

Zinc also develops patinas as copper does. However, its patina makes it appear dark gray instead of green.

After a few years, zinc gutters will start giving off a steampunk aesthetic.

Zinc Gutter Lifespan and Price

Zinc gutters can last for over 80 years if you maintain them well.

You can buy zinc gutters for $19 per linear foot on average.

5 – Stainless Steel

When it comes to hardness, stainless steel gutters might be the top choice. This type of gutter holds up the best against denting than any other material.

Like other materials, stainless steel resists rust and corrosion. It’s more affordable than zinc or copper and it’s sturdier than aluminum.

The downside to stainless steel is it’s heavy. This means that you’ll need to have it professionally installed.

Are Stainless Steel Gutters Noisy?

Being rigid gives stainless steel gutters a surprising disadvantage.

They might be the noisiest of all the gutter materials under heavy rain.

Stainless Steel Gutter Lifespan and Price

You can buy stainless steel gutters for about $9 to $11 per linear foot. This type of gutter will last for 20 to 25 years!

What Gutter Material Is Best?

After going through all the gutter materials, we believe aluminum is the best in terms of price, appearance, and durability. It’s the most versatile in shape and color, making it easy to match with different home designs.

However, copper, zinc, stainless steel, and vinyl have perks that aluminum doesn’t have. You should go for the material that speaks to you the most!

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

Here’s a summary of the pros and cons of each gutter material.

AluminumReasonably priced It comes in many colors Easy to form into various shapes ModernNot as hardy as other metallic gutters It can get punctured and dented
VinylEasy to install for beginners CheapIt’s not ideal for places with extreme weather conditions
CopperIt has a classic, vintage look Long-lasting and durable Low maintenanceExpensive Patina discoloration might not be desirable for some
ZincHighly resistant to rust and corrosion Good for any weatherDifficult to solder
Stainless SteelSturdy and not easily bentIt’s noisy when there’s strong rain Heavy

What Material Should Not Be Used for Gutters?

Sometimes we encounter homes with poorly made gutters. If you happen to buy a home with these types of gutter materials, it’s best to have them replaced.

1 – Wood

Having a wooden gutter can give your house a rustic look. Yet, its disadvantages outweigh its perks.

Wooden gutters are extremely expensive. You might have to dish out $25 to $30 for a linear foot of the material.

Plus, it won’t last for very long.

Wooden gutters are prone to rot, mold, and termites. You also have to get it treated yearly.

2 – Asbestos

Asbestos was a popular guttering material until it got banned in the 1980s.

Its rise was due to its durability, affordability, and fireproofing. However, we now know that the material can cause serious illnesses and even lung cancer.

3 – Lead

Lead is one of the guttering materials in the market. Although it doesn’t pose a risk to people living in a home with a lead gutter, it’s still a hazardous material.

Workers installing the gutters must follow OSHA standards to avoid touching and ingesting lead dust and fumes.

When it’s time to replace your gutters, you’ll need to hire a professional who will follow safety protocols. After that, you even need to bring it to a hazardous waste disposal site.

Overall, the hassle of having lead gutters isn’t worth it.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right material for your gutter can prolong your house’s lifespan, and help you reduce costs on rainwater damage.

Each of the most common gutter material types has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s best to carefully consider which one to pick based on its price, durability, and appearance.

Did our guide help you decide on the perfect gutter material for your next project? Which one will you go for?

Let us know what you think!


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