Gutters play an important role in protecting your home. Not only do gutters protect your roof, but also the foundation of your home from rain water damage.
The main types of rain gutters used today are aluminum rain gutters, copper rain gutters, galvanized steel rain gutters, weathered zinc rain gutters, seamless rain gutters, leafless gutters, leaf guard gutters, vinyl rain gutters, and wood gutters. All rain gutters come in different shapes.
Copper rain gutters are highly attractive and are often used to provide a classy look to one's home. The copper material is one of many used for rain gutters including galvanized steel, aluminum, wood, zinc and vinyl. Copper has both advantages and disadvantages as compared to other rain gutter materials. Which type you choose will depend on what factors are matter most to you.
One of the advantages of using copper for rain gutters is the attractive shine and appearance of the metal. Copper is sometimes mistaken for gold since it has a similar color and luster. However, over time copper oxidizes and forms a coating known as a patina. The patina can be green or brown in color. While the patina takes away from the normal appearance of copper, the metal still lasts very long and the patina actually helps prevent further corrosion. Normally, it takes at least six years for the patina to form although it is possible to speed up the process with certain chemical treatments.
Many people prefer the patina since it gives a classical look in addition to protecting the copper against further oxidation. However, if you like the natural look of copper, then you will have to apply sealants that prevent the copper from oxidizing. Since these sealants may need to be periodically reapplied, this may be considered a disadvantage of copper rain gutters. Another disadvantage is the relatively high cost of the copper material. So there is a balance between copperâ€™s attractiveness and durability and the expense and maintenance required.
Vinyl rain gutters have certain advantages and disadvantages when compared to other materials used for rain gutters including aluminum, copper, galvanized steel, and zinc. Choosing vinyl will depend on the type of climate that one lives in since this material is sensitive to intense sun and heavy rain, both capable of warping vinyl.
One of the important advantages of vinyl rain gutters is the relatively low cost of the vinyl material in comparison to steel, aluminum, copper and wood. In some cases, vinyl may be several times less expensive as compared to alternative materials. Unlike most metals, vinyl does not corrode so no painting, sealing or similar maintenance is required. Because vinyl is soft, easy to cut, and light in weight, it is easy for homeowners to install themselves. Also, the ease in installation cuts down costs when paying others to do the work.
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to vinyl rain gutters. For example, the material tends to change shape rather easily. Rain especially can cause vinyl gutters to warp as can any type of pressure put against them. If you do not regularly clean the gutters, the weight of leaves and debris can change the shape of the vinyl. Vinyl also tends to crack under harsh sun, so it is not the best material if you live in an area with long hot summers. If you live in a desert area, vinyl can crack very quickly and require repair or replacement.
Cleaning out gutters is perhaps one of the least desirable parts of home ownership, but leafless gutters promise to make any house virtually maintenance free. By utilizing the characteristics of water adhesion, leafless gutters are designed to stick out away from the home and allow proper drainage. The major difference between traditional and leafless gutters is the ability to successfully filter out any leaves and debris, thus eliminating the need for cleaning and maintenance.
Leafless gutters allow homeowners to enjoy the advantages of a full guttering system without the hassle and maintenance typically involved. The special design will eliminate clogs and will eliminate the need for regular gutter cleaning. Leafless gutters are often guaranteed to work properly and as designed. Most injuries occur while using ladders to clean gutters, so leafless gutters can prove to be a safer alternative particularly in homes with difficult peaks and ridges.
While the benefits of leafless gutters are fairly obvious, there are some disadvantages that must be considered as well. Most leafless gutters are designed to work with newer construction homes and particularly old houses can cause difficulty with application. Leafless gutters cost more than traditional gutters, although it often pays off in the long run.
If you are looking for strength and durability, steel gutters may be your best choice. Depending on coating system used, steel can last up to 50 years. Steel gutters hold up very well therefore require less cleaning compared to aluminum gutters. Steel is preferred in areas with snow and ice conditions.
Although new coating system makes steel last longer, the lifetime of some galvanized finishes is much less. Steel is more expensive compared to aluminum gutters and weigh more. With that said lifting and handling will not be easy for installers.
Enter the era of leaf guard gutters. Although leaf guard gutters cost slightly more than regular gutters, over their life span, they save money and also possible injuries. Once leaf guard gutters are installed, there's no need to ever climb a ladder to clean out gutters again. The protection to your roof eaves is worry-free. Leaf guard gutters are built to last and are manufactured from top quality materials. Leaf guard gutters last far longer than regular gutter systems and they are easy to install.
There are several styles of leaf guard gutters. Some leaf guard gutters are seamless while others are not. Certain types of leaf guard gutters have a snap-on vinyl mesh protector that fits over the length of a gutter system. Others are built with a narrow lip to catch only water. Curving edges allow leaves and other debris to slide off the gutters, saving time and a lot of cleaning. Gutters that are clogged can cause damage when water rises over the leafy contents of gutters and slips beneath eaves of a roof.
Wood gutters, like any other gutters, run along the eaves of a house and drain down a pipe to provide drainage during rainfall and snow-melt from the roof. Years ago, wood gutters were the preferred type of drainage system used in most homes. Wood gutters are often built of fir or cedar. On the inside, they are leaded to help prevent water seepage. Many wood gutters also are primed and painted to help the water bead away.
If built and installed properly, wood gutters are very effective, and not just at draining water. One trait of properly installed wooden gutters is that the wind will blow out leaves from such gutters, making digging out a soggy mess of leaves and tree bits an unnecessary chore. Wood gutters also provide a beautiful look, particularly on older and historic homes. Today, owners of historic properties often choose to restore their wood gutters because of the look.
But wood gutters do have a few downsides. First, there's the cost. They are more expensive to install or repair, sometimes costing as much as $20 per linear foot. And then there's the maintenance. Vinyl or aluminum gutters have very little maintenance by comparison. But with wood gutters, one will need to check to make sure the paint is intact and that if it is deteriorating, that the wood beneath it isn't rotting.
Zinc material is another type of guttering system used today. Zinc rain gutters are more popular in Europe and cost less than steel or copper but more difficult to work with. Weathered zinc gutters is gray by color which may fits well with your house design. Depending on environment condition, zinc rain gutters require less maintenance and have between 30 to 50 years lifespan.
By nature, zinc becomes brittle in low temperatutes, and has higher contraction and expansion thermal rate. Installation of zinc rain gutters is almost similar to copper gutters. One exception installers must consider is its soldering sensitivity because of higher thermal expansion rate.
Aluminum rain gutters are commonly used by most homeowners as well as on commercial buildings. One main reason is its affordability. By far aluminum gutters have more advantage over other rain gutter systems. Due to its metallic nature, aluminum is rust free and weigh less. This also mean that it is very easy to carry and install.
Aluminum gutters has its downside too. Aluminum strength is less compared to copper, zinc or steel. This may cause some problem down the road. If the gutters bend due to dirt and debris, it will cause water leakage into your home.