Understanding the Different Materials Gutters Are Made From
Traditionally, gutters are made from a handful of materials designed to be lightweight and strong at the same time. Today, there are well over a dozen different gutter materials from which to choose. By taking the time to understand the basic pros and cons of the most popular gutter materials – aluminum, copper, galvanized steel, zinc, and vinyl – you can make better choices about your own purchases.
Aluminum gutters are the most popular options among American homeowners. They are extremely lightweight so as not to cause damage to homes, and they come in a wide variety of colors. The biggest benefit of aluminum gutters is their rust resistance, and this makes them perfect for climates where rainfall is common. However, it should be noted that aluminum isn’t as durable as other materials, which means hailstones and even heavy snowfall can cause significant damage.
Copper is a beautiful gutter material that transforms from its iconic brilliant orange-gold to a greenish patina with time, and that makes it one of the most popular materials for historical renovations. The number one benefit of copper is its ability to last for decades without much maintenance at all, but it is not without its downfalls. Copper is very heavy, which means it isn’t ideal for all homes. It is also very expensive, so if you are on a budget, copper gutters may not be the best choice for your needs.
Hot-dipped (galvanized) steel gutters have been in use for 150 years, and they remain some of the most popular options among homeowners today. The steel’s zinc coating protects it from corrosion, and because it is heavier than aluminum (but not nearly as heavy as copper), it can stand up to more snowfall or hail. However, it can only resist the effects of rust for about 20 years. Though galvanized steel costs significantly more than either aluminum or vinyl, it still costs less than copper.
Though zinc is not as popular as the other materials on this list, it is one of the best options in terms of durability. Like galvanized steel, zinc is corrosion-resistant and strong. It comes in numerous colors, and though it does not cost quite as much as copper, it does cost more than steel, aluminum, or vinyl. Other considerations include zinc’s antifungal nature, which will prevent the growth of fungus, mold, and bacteria, and the fact that you can completely recycle zinc gutters at the end of their exceptionally long lifecycle.
If you want something that is both affordable and rust- and corrosion-resistant, there’s nothing quite like vinyl to fit that need. Vinyl is lightweight, available in numerous colors and patterns, and easy to install. In extreme cold temperatures, though, vinyl can become brittle and crack, and many types of vinyl will fade in direct sunlight over a period of months. Keep this in mind before deciding on vinyl gutters for your home.
Other gutter materials include options like Galvalume and different types of aluminum, copper, and steel that bring various other benefits. If you need help choosing the best material for your gutter projects, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts with your questions.
What is the Best Material for Gutters?
Gutters are made in different kinds of materials such as PVC plastic, Aluminium, Cast Iron and Steel. However, there are several reasons why some materials are more popular than others. Let’s drill into why some gutter types are more popular and also which type is more cost-effective and which gutter lasts longest?
Here are the 4 types of Gutters:
- PVC Plastic Gutters: Readily available, this low-cost option has may save costs initially, but Plastic Gutters tend to discolour, become brittle and leak. The common colours are black, white, brown and grey, but after 3 years they can look very faded, which can devalue the property value and overall look.
- Aluminium Gutters: An increasingly popular option, Aluminium Gutters are now becoming the most common solution/ Readily available in black and grey colours, plus with the added advantage of being available in any bespoke RAL colour, Aluminium Gutters are the most robust and long-lasting gutter solution, as they don’t rust, fade or become brittle, and last around 4 times as long as other Gutter options.
- Cast Iron Gutters: This original type of gutter system, is used on many heritage properties, however, Cast Iron Guttering often has problems with rust, and flaking paint, making it unsightly within a few years.
- Steel Gutters: These Gutters are generally used for commercial applications where bespoke styles and adaptions are required. Steel gutters often look very commercial with exposed rivet fixings and box-style finishes, but are ideal for high-capacity commercial or industrial environments where aesthetically pleasing finishes are not a high priority.
Why some gutter types are more popular?
Aluminium is the most popular type of gutter today, but it hasn’t always been. In the early days of gutters, they were usually made from Cast Iron as that was the only raw material that was readily available. However, issues with high costs, maintenance and rusting meant people were looking for a better solution.
With modern manufacturing methods, plastic gutters made from PVC were created which created a lower-cost option. Due to the cost savings plastic gutters became increasingly popular, however, issues with PVC Gutter have continued, so a new solution was needed.
What are the Problems with PVC Gutter and Downpipes?
- Fading or Discolouration
- Cracking of Gutter
- Brittle Gutter Joints & Brackets
- Leaking Gutter Connectors
- Creaking noises from the Gutter during natural expansion and contraction
Today, aluminium gutters are becoming by far the most popular gutter due to the huge benefits of relatively low cost, super lightweight, excellent finish and amazing lifespan.
Are Aluminium Gutters Better than Plastic Gutters?
Aluminium Gutters are so much better than PVC Gutters because they don’t break and last so much longer, which saves so much time and money avoiding expensive repairs and replacements. PVC Gutters also fade and go brittle, whereas powder coated Aluminium Gutters will stay looking great for many years, and are very unlikely to break, as aluminium doesn’t go brittle.
Aluminium Gutters and Downpipes do not rust like cast iron gutters or steel gutters, and are much lighter weight, meaning they are a lot easier to install. Aluminium Gutters can be powder coated to any RAL Colour to match any choice of colour scheme.
Top 8 Advantages of Aluminium Gutters & Downpipes
- Aluminium Gutters are 45% lower in cost over the lifetime of the property
- PVC Gutters can easily Crack or Break, whereas Aluminium Gutters remain strong
- Aluminium Gutters don’t Rust
- Most Aluminium Gutters are strong enough to lean Ladders against for Access & Cleaning
- No issues with Fading on Aluminium Gutters
- Aluminium Gutters don’t creak as PVC do
- Compared to PVC Gutter Aluminium Gutters have a much greater strength against Snow load
- Powder Coatings we can manufacture Aluminium Gutter in any colour
What Colours do Aluminium Gutters come in?
Black or Anthracite Grey colours are the most popular colours for Aluminium Gutters. Both of these colours are usually available for immediate delivery. However, you can also get Aluminium Gutters and Downpipes in any RAL Colour to suit your specific project. Simply choose a RAL Colour from a RAL Colour chart and choose a RAL Coloured option when ordering and just not the RAL colour on the order.
How long do PVC Gutters last?
Plastic Gutters and Downpipes are made from PVC and last around 5 years maximum. Often PVC Gutters will discolour and become brittle within around 3 years. As well as the disappointment of faded gutters which is not ideal for the look of the property, the brittle joints and brackets become weak and tend to break and leak, which is a bigger problem.
How long do Aluminium Gutters Last?
Aluminium Gutter Systems last for around 20 years minimum. Aluminium is the ideal material to manufacture Rainwater Gutter Systems from as it doesn’t rust, rot, or become brittle like Plastic Gutter Systems. Aluminium Gutters are lightweight and robust, making them the perfect solution.
Is Aluminium Gutter Expensive?
No, Aluminium Guttering is relatively inexpensive and will outlast any other type of Gutter in longevity. However, what is also important is looking at the cost of the product and labour over the life of the project. You can see below that in this typical example of pricing, Aluminium Guttering is only 75.00 extra but lasts 15 years more than PVC Guttering – that’s 4 times longer-lasting, making the project lifespan so much more cost-effective with Aluminium guttering than PVC Gutters.
Typical Cost of Plastic Guttering:
Typical Cost of Aluminium Guttering:
Typical Cost of Cast Iron Guttering:
Can Aluminium Gutter Rust?
No, Aluminium will not normally rust – it’s extremely rare to see any rust occur even after 20 years. This is because Aluminium Gutter is made from aluminium alloys which have the naturally perfect protection against rust as a raw material. Even if the product became was to become scratched for some reason, the scratched area itself would not rust as the aluminium have an inherent oxidising process preventing any further corrosion.
Do Aluminium Gutters Get Hot?
No, Aluminium is a great thermal conductor so any heat that is gained through solar energy would normally be quickly dispersed which keeps the aluminium Gutter and Downpipes cool. In some rare situations where air becomes trapped inside a profile for example then the temperature could rise slightly, however, we have often been surprised how incredibly cool Aluminium Gutters stay even with a dark colour on a hot day in direct sunlight.
What Styles of Gutter Are There?
- Half Round Gutter Style: This was the first style of gutter to be made, but it lacked capacity due to its shallow depth
- Square Gutter Style: made to create a more modern look, this gutter style is becoming less popular as the square shape cause increased dirt build-up, issues with leaks, and reduced flow rates.
- Deep Flow Style (Most Popular): This no-brainer style took the benefits of the original half-round gutter and increased the flow and capacity with the same great look. Over the years Deepflow Style Gutter has become the most popular option combining simplicity with high capacity.
- Classic Gutter Style: New fancier styles have been created; however, the only advantages are for where a more shaped style is preferred, and this has to be balanced with increased cost and also increased possibility of leaks occurring.
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Gutters and pipes. Water drainage methods
The task of the roof of a residential building is not only to insulate the house, but also to collect rain and melt water from a large surface. In addition, the larger the roof area, the more it is able to discharge water per unit of time. It is very important that water is drained from the roof in such a way that it does not fall on the walls of the building, does not wet the soil on which the foundation is built, and also does not form puddles on the site.
What will be the method of draining water from the roof depends on its design, personal preferences of the owner and his financial capabilities.
Drainage systems consisting of gutters and pipes
One of the most popular methods of draining water from the roof surface are gutter systems, the main elements of which are suspended gutters and used downpipes. Such a drainage system also consists of corner elements, protective nets, brackets, clamps, etc.
If we talk about the maximum size of the gutter in the cross section, then, as a rule, it fits in the region of 120-150 mm, the downspout is about 70-100 mm. Elements such as gutters can be made in different shapes: semi-circular, semi-oval, rectangular, etc. It is important that the shape of the downpipes matches the shape of the gutter. Regarding the shape of the gutter, it can be chosen based on the personal considerations of the owner of the house. All elements that the system includes are very easily interconnected. If they are installed correctly, they will properly drain the water accumulated on the roof.
Gutter parts are made of plastic, aluminium, galvanized steel, titanium and zinc alloy. As a rule, gutters made of plastic or steel are used for economy class buildings. The rest of the materials are expensive.
Plastic, from which the elements of the gutter system are made, withstands atmospheric influences. Moreover, it is dyed, which means that all sorts of defects in the form of scratches will not be noticeable on its surface. The elements of the system are connected using sealing gaskets. A gluing option is also possible.
Gutter elements made of galvanized steel often have a polymer coating of various colors, so you can easily choose the color of the drains that will be in harmony with the facade or roof. Such parts are connected with locks or brackets.
As you know, the winter in Russia is quite severe, therefore, as a result of snow, ice can form on the roof overhangs, in the gutters and in the laid drainpipes. As a result, the flow of water from the roof will be limited, since the gutters and pipes will be clogged with ice. Under the weight of ice, these elements begin to deform and become unusable.
In order to protect gutters from ice and improve their performance, heated electrical cables are laid on the roof overhang, in gutters and installed pipes. Such a system costs a lot, in addition, you will have to include the cost of electricity.
Installing roof drains
You can install hanging gutters and downspouts on the roof yourself.
In order to carry out a quality installation of gutters, you need:
1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for installing the gutter system and follow all the recommendations.
2. Pipe holders and gutter brackets must be installed at a distance no greater than indicated in the enclosed manual.
3. It is important to ensure the slope of the gutters towards the downpipe (5-20 mm for every 1 m of length taken).
4. The edge of the gutter must be positioned so that it is 3 cm below the roof plane. Otherwise, snow coming off the roof will damage the gutter.
5. To ensure that water always enters the gutter, its outer edge must be placed from the roof overhang at a distance of 2/3 of the width of the gutter.
6. The last two rules will not work on steep roof slopes. Therefore, in order to provide protection from snow, barriers should be installed on the roof that will trap precipitation.
7. When installing the gutters at the joints, it is necessary to maintain thermal gaps, which are mentioned in the instructions. When changing temperatures, the gutters and pipes must be able to move freely. Therefore, at the junctions, they should not be strongly clamped.
Where should water be discharged after entering the drainage system?
In order to divert the water further, it is advisable to connect the downspouts to a closed water collection and drainage system. This system can be:
1. An underground type drainage system designed to drain the site.
2. Storm sewer, the task of which is to collect and remove water from the territory of the house.
3. A system for collecting rain or melt water, which involves its storage. Such water can be used for irrigation or other domestic purposes.
4. Domestic sewerage. In this case, you need to have permission to receive an additional amount of waste from the owners of the system.
How to choose a drainage system | Articles Eurasia Steel Trade
- Standard requirements
- What the gutter system consists of
- Types of drains
- By material type
- By type of organization
- How to choose?
Water is one of the worst enemies of roofing and facade materials. Therefore, in order to protect the house from the harmful effects of precipitation and melt water, external drainage systems are widely used. Such drainage will help prevent damage to the elements of the facade, cornice and cornice overhangs, destruction of the basement and premature wear of the foundation due to high hydrostatic load. How to choose a drainage system, we will tell in our article.
There is no valid modern GOST for these products. To develop projects, some still refer to documents from the times of the USSR GOST 7623-84 and GOST 7623-75. The main problem in this case is that these documents are already largely outdated, and building codes and technologies have changed a lot in 40 years.
For example, the technical requirements of GOST 7623-84 indicate that pipes and their parts must be made of steel. Today, plastic ones successfully compete with metal drainage systems, about which there is not a word in the standard.
What does the gutter system consist of
Before you install a drainage system on your home, you need to buy a system of the desired configuration. The number of elements in a fairly system is quite large, these include:
- Drainpipes – move water in a vertical direction, mounted either outside or inside Ref.
- Gutters – drain water in a horizontal direction, mounted along the perimeter of the roof
- Funnels – installed at the junction of pipes and gutters
- Fasteners – necessary to fix the fixing of the entire structure, this includes hooks, brackets, clamps
Separately, we should talk about additional elements and accessories:
- Elbow – used in places where you need to change the direction of the pipe
- Plug – installed in places where the gutters end
- Angle – placed at the junction of the gutters
- Drain tip – placed at the very bottom of the pipe, directs water to the storm drain
- Mesh – prevents debris from entering the pipe, placed on the funnel
Types of drainage systems
By type of material
Today on the market gutters are presented in two main versions – metal and plastic. A mixed type can be called systems made of metal with a polymer coating.
One of the most popular options is the gutter made of steel. To protect the metal from the negative effects of external factors, a mat or a polymer coating is used. Such products are durable, resistant to temperature extremes and exposure to direct sunlight, affordable.
Gutter systems made of aluminum are very light, have good performance, but are quite difficult to install and do not tolerate temperature fluctuations very well.
Copper drains look very stylish, this design does not oxidize over time, but only becomes covered with an elegant patina. The disadvantages are the high price and greater weight relative to other types.
Modern plastic gutters are made from a modified polymer (vinyl). They are simply mounted, characterized by high strength, resistance to mechanical stress and temperature fluctuations, the ability to perceive the load without deformation and destruction. The disadvantages include a shorter service life compared to metal counterparts, as well as the tendency of non-ferrous products to fade.
By type of organization
Depending on the number of storeys of the building, the type of roof, as well as weather conditions in a particular area, chooses the type of organization of drainage – external or internal.
External drain means that the pipes of the drain system are placed outside the building along the perimeter of the roof and along the facade. This option is used most often because of the ease of installation, the affordable price of materials, and also because there is no need to use the interior of the building. The disadvantages of this type of organization of water flow include the inability to use on flat roofs, the formation of ice in the winter, as well as a high probability of damage from external influences.
In houses with a flat or gable roof, is installed an internal gutter system. In this case, water enters the pipes through funnels located on the roof. Sometimes a siphon is installed in the system, it creates a vacuum effect, due to which water is sucked in and does not accumulate at the funnel. The main advantage of this type of pipe placement is that they are securely hidden and protected from external influences. Cons – the complexity of installation and maintenance, the need to use the usable space of the building
How to choose?
Metal or plastic – the choice remains with the owner. But experts recommend choosing the material of the drain in accordance with the material of the roof: plastic for flexible tiles, metal for corrugated board and metal tiles
This indicator directly affects the choice of pipe section. If the area is up to 30 m², a pipe with a section of 80 mm is suitable for you, up to 50 m² – a section of 90 mm, up to 125 m² – a section of 100 mm
High-quality plastic drainage systems have walls with a thickness of 2.