Previously, metal gutters dominated the market, but vinyl gutters have quickly gained popularity. It is more vulnerable to weather and variances in quality, to be sure, but it is also highly durable, easy to install, and requires little maintenance.
In milder climates, they can be expected to work just as well as other materials, especially when installed properly. However, vinyl gutters are known for being brittle and for having a tendency to crack over time, especially when exposed to extreme cold. Nevertheless, if you need gutters quickly, or if your old gutters need replacing, vinyl gutters are an excellent budget-friendly choice.
Aluminum gutters offer great performance for all types of weather conditions. Some are skeptical of their durability, but we can tell you that Aluminum gutters are highly durable.
Compared to steel gutters, aluminum gutters are lighter in weight. This is why many DIY homeowners and roof installers choose aluminum gutters over steel gutters. Due to this weight difference, aluminum gutters are faster to install and less expensive.
Aluminum gutters are also less prone to corrosion and rust than steel gutters, but they have a few downsides. One is that they don’t handle extreme thermal changes as well as steel. This means that as the metal warms, it can expand somewhat. Upon cooling down, it will contract or return to its original size. While this expansion and contraction are not harmful to the gutters, they can put stress on the hangers and screws that hold the gutters in place. In time, these may become loose and require repair.
Another downside to aluminum gutters is that they dent easily, either from falling debris or by a heavy ladder leaning against it. Nevertheless, aluminum is a great material for gutters, and indeed, a well-maintained aluminum gutter can be expected to last for years.
There are two types of steel gutters: stainless steel and galvanized steel. Stainless steel gutters are not common, mainly because they are very expensive. Despite their durability, rust-resistance, and ability to retain their sheen for years, many homeowners opt for other materials because of cost.
Gutters made from galvanized steel, on the other hand, are coated with a layer of zinc, which not only strengthens the metal but makes it more rust and corrosion resistant. Since galvanized steel gutters and aluminum gutters both fall within a similar price range, many homeowners find it difficult to decide between them.
So what are the key differences between the two types of gutters? In a nutshell, galvanized steel gutters can be expected to be more sturdy and less susceptible to bending. Galvanized steel gutters also beat aluminum gutters when it comes to thermal resistance.
However, when it comes to rust resistance and ease of installation, Aluminum gutters readily beat galvanized steel by a mile.
Wooden gutters are an older type of gutter and they are no longer common. Until the 1960s, most homes had wood gutters before metal gutters replaced them. They are mostly used in restoration projects to maintain a home’s period integrity.
Let’s face it, the single advantage of wood gutters is that, for purists who want to maintain a certain aesthetic, they can’t be beat, especially for historic-themed homes. However, compared to metal gutters, wood gutters are more costly to install, require more upkeep, and are less durable in the long run.
With their unique color and patina, zinc gutters complement many types of homes. Due to their zinc carbonate coating, these gutters have twice the life expectancy of aluminum. They are also more resistant to corrosion than aluminum. People in the U.S. are becoming familiar with zinc gutters as they are becoming more popular in Europe.
While zinc gutters cost more than their aluminum counterparts, they have a longer lifespan (up to fifty years) and require much less maintenance. Indeed, Zinc gutters are considered a premium choice because they’re expensive upfront. Still, to many, their benefits, including their long lifespan and design flexibility, are well worth it.
A copper gutter can add a ton of style to your home. Moreover, copper gutters do not corrode or crack as easily as aluminum gutters (which are already great at rust and corrosion resistance) or wear out as quickly. As a result, copper gutters can last up to 50 years without needing to be replaced or repaired.
There are some drawbacks to copper gutters, the main one being their cost. For instance, the cost of a copper gutter can be expected to be more than half of an aluminum gutter. In addition, copper gutters require copper fasteners, nails, and fittings too. This is because, when using copper for gutters, you must also use copper for the entire system, since other materials like aluminum can corrode the copper. To make matters worse, copper is not easy to work with. This means you will need someone with experience working with copper to install the gutter, which can further raise the cost.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom for copper. True, it may seem expensive at first, but copper can actually save you money over time. Because of its durability, you will not have to replace your copper gutters for decades to come. In contrast, other materials will require repeated replacements. Indeed, copper gutters are known to withstand even the most extreme weather conditions. So if you’re willing to pony up for the most durable gutter system — one that requires very little maintenance — then copper is the way to go.