What’s The Best Material for Rain Gutters?

March 08, 2023
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In the not-so-distant past, wood was the material of choice for rain gutters and were the norm for homes that even bothered to have rain gutters installed.

Beautifully crafted from cedar, redwood or fir, early wood gutters provided the same primary function that today’s more advanced gutters offer, which is being the first line of defense against rain or snow damage to your home.

In today’s modern world, however, wood is not used for gutters much anymore, except perhaps on old historic houses where the homeowners want to stay true to the original building materials.  I removed several wood gutter installations during the early part of my career but haven’t seen any wooden gutter installations lately.

Now, contemporary rain gutters are mass-produced on site and are much more weather resistant than wood gutters.  They also come in a variety of types, styles and materials. 

And depending on the metal you choose, gutters can be relatively inexpensive to install or they can have a price tag that will give you sticker shock.  It just depends on whether you are price conscious or want your home to be the envy of the neighborhood with a rain gutter look that adds a stunning new dimension to your home.

Either way, there’s a rain gutter appearance out there with your name on it.   But the material that offers the best value for your money will be gutters made from aluminum.  Aluminum is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, easy to form and work with, and is available in a wide assortment of colors.  And after 20 years of installing gutters, aluminum gutters have been the go-to gutter for my business, easily accounting for over 95% of all gutter installations I’ve performed myself or managed.

So, let’s take a look at aluminum and some of the other different materials in which rain gutters have been fashioned.

Why Should The Material of Your Rain Gutters Matter?

It’s all about water damage.   A rain gutter that leaks or is rusty can almost do as much damage to your home as a leaky roof.  And just as important, clogged gutters are worse that no gutters at all! 

Rain gutters are one of your homes most important defenders against the elements of nature.   They lead rain and melting snow away from your siding and foundation to safeguard then from stress and deterioration.

Furthermore, a gutter that isn’t installed correctly or one that leaks will lead to wood rot, cracks in the foundation of your house and can even cause pest infestations over the long term. 

So, whether you’re deciding on rain gutters on a new home or just replacing the old gutters that are currently installed, making an informed decision on what rain gutter material is best for your home and your budget is definitely favorable.

The 7 Different Rain Gutter Materials

VINYL/PLASTIC

Vinyl has one definite advantage:  It’s cheap.   These gutters will also maintain their color relatively well, but generally only come in white or brown.  They are flexible, dent resistant and don’t rust or corrode.  But, over the long haul, it’s not as durable as some of the other materials on this list.  They will get brittle with age and in the extreme cold.  And it’s definitely not a good idea to lean a ladder against these gutters, either.  Furthermore, if installed incorrectly, vinyl can sag. 

Moreover, gutters that are made from vinyl or plastic are basically do-it-yourself gutters.  I don’t know of any professional gutter installer who will install this type of material on a customer’s home.  You can discover all you want to know about do-it-yourself gutters by clicking here. 

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: $4
  • 120 Linear Feet: $630 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $1300 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 20 years if not located in a cold climate
  • Rating: 1 Star *
  •  

STAINLESS STEEL

Stainless steel gutters are almost bulletproof, its unique chemical composition makes it impervious to rust, and they will keep shining for many years to years.   They will hold up very well even in the harshest weather environments.  There’s just one drawback:   They’re pretty expensive, so the price price puts this metal out of range for most homeowner’s and therefore is not a popular choice for rain gutters. 

And strangely enough, its life expectancy isn’t much more than that of aluminum, which makes its price tag even more of a problem.

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: $20
  • 120 Linear Feet: $3000 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $6300 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 30 years or more
  • Rating: 2 Stars **

GALVANIZED STEEL

Galvanized steel is coated with zinc, which strengthens it and makes it rust resistant.  

However, it’s possible for it to rust over the long term if water doesn’t drain efficiently out of the gutter or if wet leaves are left in it.  It’s a very sturdy and solid metal and priced pretty competitively.  They can also be painted, but tend to be on the heavy side.

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: $8
  • 120 Linear Feet: $1185 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $2450 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 20 years
  • Rating: 2 Stars **

GALVALUME STEEL

Galvalume, a shiny, silver piece of steel that’s been coated with aluminum and zinc, is mostly used on commercial buildings.  However, I have installed Galvalume on residential homes at the homeowner’s request, to very stunning results.  This metal is strong, durable, quite heavy and offers proven long term corrosion resistance. The coating mixture of 55% Aluminum and 45% Zinc is applied to the steel sheet by a continuous, hot dipping process. Depending on which part of the United States you’re in, Galvalume has approximately nine times the life expectancy of galvanized steel.

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: $10
  • 120 Linear Feet: $1425 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $2950 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Rating: 3 Stars ***

COPPER

Surprisingly, copper is not that much more durable than aluminum.  For example, the standard 16oz copper generally used for gutter installation is minimally stronger than aluminum.  More importantly, though, is the cost discrepancy between the two metals.  Copper gutters are typically four times as expensive as aluminum gutters. However, copper does exude a certain beauty when it patinas.  Plus, unlike painted aluminum gutters, copper gutters will never be in need of a face lift and will not mildew.

Copper rain gutters are the Ferrari’s of the gutter industry.  They are very expensive,  but are rust proof and very durable.  And apart from doing its duty as the front line of defense against water, these rain gutters will add value to your home as they are a stunning architectural feature.

It’s also quite possible that your copper gutter system may even outlive you!  If properly installed, it should last more than 75 years.  

Plus, the material is almost too beautiful to be used in gutters.   With age, copper will patina, or get a greenish tint to them, which adds to its charm.  

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: $25
  • 120 Linear Feet: $3900 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $8050 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 75 Years or More
  • Rating: 3 Stars ***

ZINC

Zinc gutters are made from (surprise!) mostly zinc, with small amounts of copper and titanium.   It is mostly used unpainted and requires almost no maintenance. Zinc rain gutters are expensive but have a lifespan of about 40 years.   Durable and long-lasting, it is used primarily on high-end homes and historic restorations.

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: About $24
  • 120 Linear Feet: $3705 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $7650 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 40 Years or More
  • Rating: 2 Stars **

ALUMINUM

By far the most popular metal for rain gutters is aluminum.  It combines most of the best qualities of all of the other metals.  It’s lightweight, corrosion-resistant, easy to form and work with, available in a wide assortment of colors and is less expensive when compared to the other metals.   Weather resistant across the board, aluminum can be used in any climate and can successfully be painted if you so choose. 

And like I said earlier, over 95% of all gutter installations I’ve performed myself or managed have been using aluminum.  You can’t go wrong with this metal!

  • Cost Per Linear Foot: About $6
  • 120 Linear Feet: $820 (Not including downspouts.)
  • 250 Linear Feet: $1800 (Not including downspouts.)
  • Life Expectancy: 25 Years or More
  • Rating: 5 Stars *****

Conclusion

In the end, most homeowners have aluminum gutters installed on their homes.  Galvalume is a distant second with copper far off in the rear view mirror.

In The Gutter is Spring, TX and the surrounding areas most knowledgeable gutter installation specialist, providing invaluable advice on the best gutter materials for your home. Contact us today! We will help you choose the most beneficial gutter for your property.

Different materials have various qualities that could benefit your home more than others. Deciding on a suitable material can raise your home’s value by adding the perfect finishing touch to the roof, enhancing functionality, and minimizing required property maintenance.

As mentioned above, there are a few gutter materials to choose from, so how do you decide? Find a short guide on the top materials used for gutters below.

Choose the right gutter materials.

How Do I Choose the Right Gutter Material for My Home?

Here’s a short description of each leading gutter material and its core benefit for your home.

Steel

Steel guttering is one of the most eco-friendly and relatively low-maintenance options. It’s got a firm resistance against corrosion and tough against scratch damages, ideal where homeowners want a more dependable gutter on their home.

Aluminium

The lightweight stature and robust composition of aluminum guttering make the material one of the most popular choices for installation. Aluminium has ideal performance, requiring minimal maintenance and an outstanding visual appeal, increasing a home’s aesthetic.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is one of the longest-lasting gutter materials, with a lifespan of over 100 years, which is excellent for generational properties. Some of the unique benefits of the material include its increased fire resistance and lower noise pollution features.

Plastic

Plastic is a material suited for homes with a lower budget, being a versatile and resistant gutter, able to face up to weather extremities. Plastic might be the ideal choice if you’re in an area with exceptionally high rainfall, as it quickly handles excessive volumes of water.

Copper

Copper guttering might be a bit more style over substances, but it still doesn’t lack when it comes to its intended function. The material adapts to the local environment, remaining a sturdy choice that’s durable, corrosion resistant, and fends off the growth of lichens and moss.

So with so many choices in gutter materials, picking the right one can be overwhelming. Some experienced specialists can help you decide if you’re having trouble.

Do You Need Help Deciding on the Right Gutter Material for Your Home?

In The Gutter is Spring, TX’s most knowledgeable gutter installation specialist, providing invaluable advice on the best gutter materials for your home. Contact them today to help choose the most beneficial gutter for your property.

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