All gutters aren’t created equally since some are more durable than others while others cost much less than the rest. In terms of longevity, steel gutters last about the same time as gutters made of aluminum although they both last longer than vinyl gutters.
As for the cost, aluminum gutters cost slightly more than what vinyl gutters cost. However, steel gutters cost more than both aluminum and vinyl gutters. When it comes to the installation process, aluminum gutters are quite light and easy to handle hence will cost less money and time to install than the other two.
Of the three types of gutters in discussion, aluminum gutters are the most favored given their low cost, ease of installation and durability. They are lighter than steel gutters and won’t easily rust as well. In terms of general longevity, aluminum gutters will last about the same time as the steel gutters.
Vinyl gutters are made of PVC material which makes them plastic gutters. They’re the cheapest and best suited for a dry and mild climate. They are easy to install since they come in pieces that just need to be connected to each other and the roof. The problem with vinyl gutters is that they don’t last as long as their metal alternatives.
The good with vinyl gutter include the following:
- They are among the cheapest types of gutters on the market hence can be used when one is on a tight budget or has a large building.
- They are lightweight and thus easy to install and handle in general.
- Easy to install. Vinyl gutters don’t need cutting and measuring and, instead, just need positioning then snapping the pieces together. You won’t even require rivets for the joints. This makes installing such gutters very fast and convenient.
- They require very little maintenance. First, vinyl gutters are manufactured with the paint and thus they won’t need to be repainted when in use. They also don’t corrode or rust and your ladders or tree limbs won’t dent them.
- Available in many different colors. The colors can be chosen to match the color of the roofing tiles and the house in general without increasing the costs of the gutters. Given that they don’t need to be repainted, you won’t spend a cent on the paint.
These aspects are the reason vinyl gutters are still quite popular today. With progress in manufacturing, these gutters have become cheaper and cheaper by the day.
The not so good aspects about vinyl gutters include the following aspects:
- They’re so light that extreme weather such as lots of rain, strong winds and snow will easily damage them. For this reason, vinyl gutters are best suited to dry and mild climates.
- They are not very durable. While vinyl gutters will not corrode, they are still very prone to cracking and sagging with time. They are thus chosen as sectional models with more seams than the seamless gutters.
- They are prone to leaking given that the sections are not soldered together but rather just clipped together. If there is a clog in the gutter, they will likely break the sections under the weight of the water.
- Vinyl gutters will also not last long under hot conditions as sunlight can make them brittle and easy to break. They also become discolored under the sun.
- Vinyl is also a fire hazard as it burns easily when exposed to fire.
Although rife with problems, vinyl gutters can be easily maintained in dry climates to last up to 20 years or even more. In wet and tough weather, you might only get 10 years of service from the gutters.
Aluminum gutters are among the most popular thanks to their practicality in terms of the low cost, high durability and ease of installation. The fact that only copper gutters have a significant advantage over aluminum gutters in longevity has made the latter some of the most popular for buildings.
The aspects in favor of aluminum gutters include the following:
- Lightweight. aluminum gutters are some of the lightest although they are quite durable. For this reason, they will not sag under the weight of water or debris and are quite easy to carry around and install.
- Highly durable. The durability of aluminum gutters have made them reliable gutters which can last for up to 20 years or even more. They are also resistant to rust and most other weather effects.
- They are also affordable given that aluminum is quite high in abundance.
- Easy to maintain. You can easily cut them up into pieces, paint them and create watertight seals between the pieces.
- Aluminum gutters are also available in many different colors and can be easily painted to a color of your choice.
- They are also very popular and thus finding an expert on their installation and maintenance is quite easy.
- Compared to vinyl gutters, metal gutters such as aluminum and steel resist the effects of the sun better as they don’t lose their color or become brittle due to exposure to sunlight. This makes them better in hot climates.
You can thus count on aluminum gutters thanks to the reasons above.
The doubtful aspects about aluminum gutters are as follows:
- They are affected by salt and moisture and can thus easily corrode in coastal climates.
- They are lightweight hence can be damaged by strong winds, hail and snow. This makes them unsuited to some types of climates.
- Being thin and light, aluminum gutters can easily get dented by large hailstones, trees and even ladders placed against them. The dents can impar the flow of water and snow.
- The high likelihood of leaking around the joints compared to steel gutters also adds to the doubts about the quality of aluminum gutters.
- Aluminum gutters can also make some types of shingles to rust and lose their quality.
- Aluminum gutters easily contract and expand leading to dents, cracks and splits in areas with varying extreme temperatures.
The main advantage with aluminum gutters is that they balance out the price and durability.
Steel gutters boast of a high level of durability and being leakproof. Thye can survive in just about any weather without much damage. The only downsides to steel gutters are the high purchase price and their weight as they are the heaviest of the three types of gutters in discussion.
The aspects that should convince you to get these gutters include the following:
- Steel is highly resistant to corrosion and rust. Steel gutters are available either as stainless steel or galvanized gutters. of the two types, stainless steel is the most resistant to rust and corrosion and will last for more than 20 years without a dent. Galvanized steel has a protective coating although it will struggle going beyond 20 years of service as it will rust and corrode within this period especially in harsh weather.
- Steel is tough and will not bend or be affected in any way by harsh weather such as heat, hail, winds and snow. Even ladders placed on steel gutters won’t bend under the weight of the ladder and the user.
- You can have seamed and seamless variants. The seamless steel gutters are less likely to leak as they have fewer pieces and joints. The seamed ones are also joined with rivets and soldering making them less likely to leak.
- Steel gutters don’t pose any risk of corrosion to all types of shingles. This is an issue noted with aluminum gutters.
If this is what you are looking for in a gutter and aren’t tight on a budget, get steel ones.
The downsides to having steel gutters include the following:
- Steel gutters are very costly which makes their cost inhibitive especially when you’re dealing with a large building.
- Steel reacts to heat faster than most metal and will thus get worn out due to expanding and contracting in hot climates.
- Only stainless steel can resist rust and corrosion for a long time. The problem is stainless steel gutters are almost twice the price of galvanized steel gutters.
- It’s hard and costly to install steel gutters as they require complex cutting and soldering which also require skilled labor to carry out.
- Steel gutters are also quite hard to find on the market as they’re not popular. This is mainly due to their high cost of purchase and maintenance.
- Stainless steel gutters require more maintenance in general as compared to other types of gutters. You have to check for rust, bends and other types of damage before they becomes a major issue.
With steel gutters, you need to commit financially and otherwise although they offer the best value for money.
When choosing a type of gutter for your house, consider the longevity, ease to work with and the total cost (purchase and maintenance). Most gutters other than steel and copper are quite affordable and will still give you a good service. However, when the only choices you have are steel, aluminum and vinyl, you should go for steel for the best durability in terms of length of service. However, considering the ease of installation and the cost, aluminum gutters are the most balanced of the three. They cost less than steel yet provide a service for just as long. Also, they are very easy to install and maintain.
More on Gutters
- Why are Gutters Important & When are Gutters not Necessary?
- How Long do Gutters Last?
- Do Gutters Cause Ice Dams?
- How to Fix a Sagging Gutter
- How to Install Gutters Without Fascia Board
- Rain Gutter Alternatives, Low Maintenance, Cheap & DIY Options
- Rain Diverter vs Gutter-Differences & Similarities
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