Gutters and Types of Gutter Materials

Gutters are found on most homes and they serve an important function.  This roofing guide takes a look at the purpose of gutters and the various materials that gutters are made from.

The Importance of Gutters

All of the rainwater that falls on your home’s roof will travel through your home’s gutters before it reaches the ground.  In a heavy rainfall, that can represent an enormous volume of water that would otherwise run off the roof and fall to the ground around your home.  The value of gutters is that they give you the opportunity to  keep large amounts of water away from your home’s foundation.  If the foundation has even very small cracks and water is consistently coming in contact with it, you will soon have water in your basement.  Rot, mold, damaged furnishings and much more can follow.

For this reason, it is essential to have a well-constructed gutter and downspout system in good working condition.  There are several types of material that make excellent gutters, lets take a look at the most common gutter materials used on today’s homes.

Common Gutter Materials

Galvanized Steel: This material is relatively inexpensive and very durable.  They are made from steel that is coated with zinc.  Once very popular, their use has declined quite a bit.  They are sometimes used on older or historic homes to fit the time period in which the home was built.  Galvanized steel gutters will start to rust in just a few years.  This will affect their appearance immediately but may not affect their performance for several years.  Expect to pay from $4-$7 per linear foot for galvanized steel gutters.

Aluminum:  This material is very popular because it is lightweight and strong, won’t rust and is easy to install.  Aluminum gutters last up to 20 years and possibly longer with good maintenance.  Aluminum gutters come in a variety of pre-painted colors and cost from $5-$10 per linear foot.

Vinyl: Vinyl gutters are light, inexpensive, won’t rust and come in a wide variety of colors to match or contrast to your home’s exterior.  Vinyl is a good choice for DIY jobs because it is easy to work with.  Vinyl gutters cost just $3-$5 per foot when bought in sections.

Many roofers and gutter contractors now have vinyl gutter extruding machines that produce seamless gutters of just the right length for each run.  The advantage is that your gutters won’t ever leak from seams coming apart.  The disadvantage is that they are not an option for DIY installation because of the need for the extruder.

Copper Gutters: Upscale homes often use copper for its elegant look.  It is also chosen for some historic homes for an authentic look.  The copper will develop a natural patina but won’t rust.  Expect to pay $15-$20 per linear foot for copper gutters.

Finally, the variety of gutter materials and colors give homeowners good options to consider for their own home.  Matching the look wanted, within any budget, is possible with these affordable gutter materials.


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