All About Rain Gutter Materials
There are various gutter systems to choose from, whether you own an older home that requires replacement gutters or new construction that requires installation. If you’re like most people, this might be the first time you’ve put any mental effort into choosing gutters for your home. Your first thought was probably “I just need gutters” because you ran from your car to your front porch and got drenched. But now that you’re considering investing in your home, you’re wondering, “Is there more to it than ‘just’ gutters?”. There are tons of different profiles out there, but the one thing you’ll have to choose right away is the material that you want. Luckily, you have quite a few choices based on your style, your roof, your budget, and your goals with the home.
PVC, Plastic, Vinyl Gutters
Doomed from the start
Vinyl gutters are a common choice among homeowners due to their low cost and ease of installation. However, because of our heavier precipitation and varying temperatures all year, they are not a good choice for homes in Texas. Why? Because vinyl gutters are light, they should not be exposed to heavy rainfall or high winds. While vinyl gutters may initially save you money, they will ultimately cost you plenty in the long run, particularly in comparison to other gutter materials.
Most professionals agree that any Vinyl, PVC, or plastic gutter will look bad on the home and need to be replaced sooner rather than later. It’s a disservice in Texas to install it because it can’t withstand the brutal heat of summer and becomes brittle, cracks, and breaks. Since gutter professionals in Texas rarely install these, you’ll likely be doing this yourself in dangerous conditions. An improperly installed system can often cause more damage to your home than not having gutters.
- Purchased from big box stores and installed yourself
- 1-2 year life span, becomes brittle in the Texas heat
- NOT seamless and leaks at the joints
- No professionals will install it, so you’ll have to do it yourself
- Undersized for normal Texas rains
The Industry Standard
Aluminum is among the most popular gutter materials and has a few advantages over others. They are frequently inexpensive, and they resist rust better than other metals.
Aluminum is the industry standard in gutters in Texas. It’s the most affordable of the professional materials, lasts a LONG time, and is lightweight and easily formed, so most companies can run it seamlessly or custom form it to any shape you want. Because it comes pre-finished with baked-on enamel paint, the finish lasts over 50 years and can match your existing house colors. Austin Gutter King uses the Senox line of colors, which carry a 50-year warranty.
- Durable, lightweight, and never rusts
- comes pre-finished with a range of colors and textures that never require painting
- Thinner than steel and more susceptible to damage from hail
The “Metal Look”
Galvalume is the industry’s response to the request for galvanized steel. Galvanized steel rusts and dulls over time, eventually causing gutter failure and an unsightly roof line. Galvalume comes in a coil and is most often installed seamlessly. Austin Gutter King uses Senox Galvalume, and it carries a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Steel is heavy-duty
- Maintains its shine and doesn’t rust or dull like Galvanized Steel
- Shinier than Galvanized Steel and doesn’t dull, which many people like
- More expensive than aluminum
Copper Metallic Gutters
A copper look at an aluminum price
Copper can be out of reach for many budgets, but for customers wanting a copper look without the price tag, the Copper-Metallic material can be a great choice. It’s technically an aluminum gutter but gives the appearance of copper. Its price is just above the cost of traditional aluminum colors, but nowhere near the cost of copper. This is an excellent choice for customers who prefer the look of copper that never patinas and always maintains its “new” look.
- More affordable than pure copper
- Never patinas
- Never patinas, which many customers prefer
Paint-Grip Steel Gutters
Paint-Grip Steel (or bonderized steel) is galvanized steel that is processed through a phosphate bath. It’s designed to prohibit corrosion and promotes the life expectancy of paint, or some customers choose to leave it untreated for a rustic metal look. It offers a “duller” look than the more protected Galvalume gutters. The phosphate process insulates the galvanized coating and paint, extending the life of the adhesion to the steel. Because the bare phosphate coating is susceptible to white rust, bonderized steel should be painted immediately after installation.
- Classic steel look
- Great for accepting paint
- Can eventually rust without regular maintenance.
- More expensive than Galvalume or Aluminum
While copper has benefits and drawbacks, it may be the best choice for vintage homes. Copper gutter systems have been used for a very long time, dating back to the 1800s. While copper gutters are eye-catching, they require routine maintenance to keep them looking their finest. Nothing brings a roof-line to life like pure copper gutters. On large houses, we usually see them with bold profiles like quarter-round or half-rounds gutters. For smaller Arts & Crafts style houses, it’s common to use copper as a decorative half-round. In Texas, the copper will generally fully patina in about three months. Our installers use gloves to ensure there are no fingerprints on the copper. There are many custom options for copper, so be creative with your project consultant and find something that makes your home stand out!
- Considered the most beautiful and longest-lasting material
- Generally done in a stylish profile
- Patinas beautifully
- Significantly more expensive than other materials
- Will patina, but many customers prefer that
- Requires very skilled installation for soldered miters and end caps
Sectional or Seamless?
Sectional gutters are made up of pieces of gutter that are connected as they are installed, usually every ten feet or so. Seamless gutters, which come in long rolls of metal and are custom-fitted to each run of your home, are the most common option. Sectional gutters come loose at each joint over time as expansion and contraction occur on your fascia and the metal. Seamless gutters are more affordable than the equivalent material in sectional because it requires less labor than finishing every joint.
There are various reasons different customers choose different materials, so it’s worth conversing with your project consultant about your ideas and hearing the pros and cons of materials for your specific project. Gutter King can guide you through the process and make sure you’re getting the suitable materials, the right style, and the highest quality available. Also, check out our overview of the different profiles of gutters available.