Comparing Different Gutter Materials

Flaking Gutter And Wall

When browsing gutter materials, it’s important to consider your budget, weather conditions, and your home’s architectural style. Don’t become overwhelmed by narrowing down which material is ideal for your home. In this article, we’ll explore the most popular gutter materials and the pros and cons of each.

In this article:

Aluminum Gutters

Aluminium Gutter outside the house
Friedrich Haag / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

With a lifespan of 25 years or more coupled with its low cost and rust resistance, it’s no wonder that homeowners overwhelmingly choose aluminum when installing new gutters. Aluminum is lightweight and easy to work with, which makes it one of the best gutter materials for DIYers. Aluminum gutters also come in a variety of styles, sizes, thicknesses, and colors.

Cost: Our research found that aluminum gutters generally range from $8 to $16 per linear foot.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Can opt for seamless gutters to avoid having sealant reapplied
  • Rust-resistant
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Easy to install
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Can dent or bend
  • Not great for areas with extreme temperature changes
  • Will need to be cleaned or repainted regularly

Copper Gutters

Customized factory copper gutter
Ctd 2005 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A high-end and extremely durable material, copper gutters are an ideal choice for homeowners looking to add a unique touch to their home. Initially adding a beautiful pop of color, copper gutters will oxidize over time and develop an old-world greenish patina. Copper gutters are the most expensive material on the market, but they also come with the longest lifespan generally lasting over 100 years when properly maintained.

Cost: Our research found that copper gutters generally range from $15 to $30 per linear foot.

Pros

  • Very durable
  • Does not require painting
  • Great for extreme weather conditions
  • Rust-proof
  • Attractive patina
  • Typically available as a seamless option
  • Beautiful color will add to your home’s curb appeal

Cons

  • Most expensive gutter material
  • Should be professionally installed
  • High market value of copper could make copper gutters a target for thieves

Steel Gutters

If you’re looking for similar attributes of aluminum gutters but need a more durable solution, steel gutters are a perfect choice. But that durability will also come with a heftier price tag. Steel gutters are also quite heavy, so it’s recommended to have them installed by professionals.

There are two varieties of steel gutters on the market:

  • Galvanized steel is the cheaper of the two options, but it will show signs of corrosion after 10 to 15 years. 
  • Stainless steel gutters can be difficult to find because they are expensive. However, they’re a long-lasting option for homeowners willing to foot hefty upfront costs.

Cost: Our research found that steel gutters generally range from $5 to $25 per linear foot.

Pros

  • Stainless steel gutters will not rust
  • Very durable in all weather conditions
  • Available as seamless gutters
  • Not prone to dents and warping 

Cons

  • Galvanized steel could rust after 10-15 years
  • Expensive
  • Heavy
  • Not DIY-friendly

Vinyl Gutters

Another popular option for homeowners, vinyl gutters have the lowest price tag of any gutter material available. On the flip side, they also have the shortest lifespan. Since vinyl gutters are made of PVC, they will not rust or rot. However, vinyl is not an ideal gutter material if you live in an area with extremely hot or cold temperatures as it can become brittle and crack. 

If you’re a DIYer, vinyl is an excellent option because it’s easy to work with and is lightweight. 

Cost: Our research found that vinyl gutters generally range from $2 to $9 per linear foot. 

Pros

  • Will not rust or rot
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight
  • Great for DIY projects
  • Can be painted

Cons

  • Can become brittle or crack in regions with high heat or extreme cold
  • Will fade with intense sun exposure
  • Require maintenance

Wood Gutters

Old Wood Gutter
Jim Derby / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Similar to copper, wood gutters are an expensive option for homeowners. Wood gutters are not readily available on the market because they are often only used during renovations or on historic homes. Since they are made of wood, they are prone to water damage and can rot easily without constant maintenance.

Cost: Since wood gutters are typically customized for historic homes, it’s best to contact one of our gutter specialists for an accurate price range.  

Pros

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Can be durable (only when proper maintenance is performed)

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Carry less water than other options
  • Require a lot of maintenance
  • Prone to water damage

Zinc Gutters

With a lifespan of 50 years or more, zinc gutters are known for their durability and sturdiness. Zinc gutters are a dull gray color when first installed, but develop an attractive patina over time. This makes zinc gutters a popular choice for historic and high-end homes. Zinc gutters must be welded together and professionally installed, which makes them one of the most expensive gutter options.

Cost: Our research found that zinc gutters generally range from $10 to $22 per linear foot.

Pros

  • Long-lasting
  • Durable and sturdy
  • Will not rust or warp
  • Develops an attractive patina
  • Low maintenance
  • Available in a variety of colors

Cons

  • Do not hold up well in salty air
  • Need professional installation
  • Expensive

Frequently Asked Questions About Gutters

What are the Different Types of Gutters on the Market?

There are four main types of gutters on the market. Here’s a look at each:
K-style gutters: The most common gutter option, K-style gutters are a popular option for DIY homeowners that can handle heavy rainfall. However, the grooves that give these gutters their name are known to collect debris and can easily clog.
Half-round gutters: A popular choice for people with older homes, half-round gutters are typically made from copper. Even though half-round gutters can add a decorative element to your home, they don’t handle excessive rain well.
Fascia gutters: The most expensive gutter type on the market, fascia gutters are a custom system that requires professional installation. Since they’re made from one long piece of aluminum, fascia gutters do not leak or rust because there are no seams.
Box-style Gutters: Primarily featured on commercial buildings, box-style gutters are built to handle heavy rainfall. If you’re a homeowner interested in box-style gutters, a professional gutter installer can fit them to your home.
For more about different gutter types, see this story on LawnStarter.

Why Are Rain Gutters Important?

The primary purpose of gutters is to protect your home from mold, mildew, and other water damage. Gutters guide water from your roof, into the downspouts, and away from your home’s foundation and siding. Your home could experience basement flooding, foundation damage, roof leaks, and weakened shingles, soffits, and fascia boards if rain gutters are not installed on your home.

What are the Benefits of Gutter Guards?

To significantly reduce the amount of regular maintenance on their gutter systems, homeowners can install gutter guards. Some benefits include:
• Prevent gutter systems from corrosion and premature rust
• Alleviate destructive ice dams
• Prevent vermin and insect infestation
• Protection from mold and mildew development, foundation damage, rotting fascia boards, and basement flooding
• Reduce the need for multiple gutter cleanings per year
• Reduce the likelihood of fire by preventing the buildup of dry debris

Final Word

Choosing the right gutter material for your new gutters is not only important for home protection but also a key part of your home’s curb appeal. If you’re interested in learning more about gutter materials and the installation process, reach out to one of our home improvement specialists for a consultation.

Main Photo by: publicdomainpictures

Whitney Lehnecker

Whitney Lehnecker

A native of Ohio, Whitney Lehnecker is a career journalist and newspaper designer. She now lives in Central Florida with her husband and two pups, Goose and Bindi.