Published: 09/30/2010 by SeamlessGuttersToday.com Article Team
Hundreds of years ago, hardwood gutters were considered the standard. There weren’t many more options than that until technological advances made plastic and metal mass production possible. Although still in use today, wooden gutters are used primarily for restoration of historic homes. Without a doubt, aluminum and vinyl are the most popular materials for gutters today – they’re affordable, lightweight, rust proof, and require little to no upkeep, other than the seasonal clearing. Although not as common, gutters can also be made of steel, copper, or wood; however, aside from galvanized steel, these materials tend to be more expensive than aluminum or vinyl, and sometimes won’t provide the same benefits.
Once a standard, wood is now easily the least popular of all gutter materials used. Wooden gutters require a considerable amount of time spent solely on yearly maintenance alone to prevent replacing and are also very expensive. Expect to pay between $12 to $20/foot depending on the type of wood used. To prevent rot and enhance the wood’s water resistance, it’s strongly recommended linseed oil be applied at least once a year.
On the other hand, copper is an excellent choice of gutter material, for more reasons than just adding aesthetic appeal to your home’s exterior. Copper gutters are durable, never need a finish, and they won’t ever rust. They’re also a wise addition to homes along the coasts exposed to salty conditions, or in areas with acid rain. Copper gutters also develop a desirable patina over time that turns the copper into a pleasant green color. They require no more maintenance than routine cleaning, unless you intend to strip the patina every few years with products designed to do so. It’s recommended that a professional install copper gutters, as mistakes made with copper can get expensive quickly, but once installed, copper gutters actually raise the value of your home. Seamless copper gutters usually run around $19/foot.
Galvanized and stainless steel provide gutters with great durability that work well for homeowners in colder climates. Steel contracts half as much as aluminum, helping to prevent the gutter from pulling away from the house and sagging. Hot-dipped galvanized steel is coated in zinc to prevent corrosion, and does so especially well against ice and snow. Other galvanized coatings even carry guarantees for 50 years. Unfortunately, without any sort of coating, galvanized gutters will only last around 5-10 years before showing signs of rust. Seamless galvanized gutters will cost between $6 and $8/foot to have installed. If you’re looking for the durability of steel, with the corrosion resistance of aluminum, you might be thinking stainless steel. Indeed, it will never rust, but be prepared to shell out $20/foot to install.
You lose durability with aluminum, and vinyl tends to get incredibly brittle with age and in extreme cold, but both system materials are cheap and easy to find, and are also highly resistant to corrosion. Aluminum is the most common seamless gutter material, and can come in runs as long as 100+ feet for about $6-$9/foot. This option is the most recommended in the professional industry. Today 99% of every home in America has aluminum seamless gutters installed. Vinyl is the most popular among do-it-yourselfers installing sectional gutters; this option is not recommended. The flexibility and resilience of vinyl works well for warmer climates, and works well for wallets, too.