You may not think about your gutters often, but they work tirelessly to protect your house from serious damage. And when you factor in Oregon’s weather, you need a gutter system that is long-lasting and durable.
Let's explore how to extend the lifespan of your gutters and help them withstand the elements of the Pacific Northwest.
Types of Gutters
Choosing the right gutter material will ultimately make a difference in how durable and long-lasting your gutters are. Here are 4 of the most common gutter materials to consider.
Aluminum gutters are a popular choice among homeowners for several reasons:
- Easy to install (if you like to DIY)
- Resistant to rust and rot
However, they can dent easily if hit by a branch or ladder, so they might not be the best choice for homes surrounded by trees.
Steel gutters are incredibly durable, but also sport several other benefits:
Can handle heavy rainfalls and snow loads without bending or breaking
- Resistant to rust (especially if galvanized)
However, steel gutters are heavier than other options. This makes installation more challenging and requires additional support.
If you're looking for a touch of class with long durability, copper gutters may be the way to go.
- Offer an upscale, elegant look
- Ages over time to a green patina
- Extremely long-lasting
But this beauty comes at a price – copper gutters are more expensive than other types. They also require professional installation to ensure they're fitted correctly.
Vinyl gutters (made from PVC plastic) are another popular choice for homes. Vinyl gutters are:
- Easy to install (if you like to DIY)
- Resistant to rust and rot
However, vinyl gutters are not the most durable of materials. They can become brittle and crack in extreme cold or heat, so they’re not the best choice for all climates.
Selecting the Right Material for Oregon
Choosing gutters isn't a one-size-fits-all process.
For those of us in Oregon, we have to consider our heavy rainfall, especially during the winter months. This means your gutters need to be robust, capable of handling a lot of water, and resistant to rust.
With this in mind, aluminum and steel gutters are often a good choice. They're both durable and rust-resistant to Oregon’s wet environment.
Beyond suitability to Oregon’s climate, it's also important to consider the environmental impact since a more durable gutter will also be more eco-friendly.
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
Materials like steel, aluminum, and copper may have a higher upfront cost, but their durability and recyclability make them an excellent choice for the environmentally conscious homeowner.
Steel gutters are incredibly resilient and capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions without needing frequent replacement. This longevity reduces the need for new material production, saving energy and resources.
Plus, when steel gutters do reach the end of their life, they're recyclable. This means they can be repurposed into new products, reducing the demand for raw materials and minimizing waste.
Like steel, aluminum gutters are also highly recyclable. Nearly 75% of all aluminum ever produced is still in use today.
Aluminum gutters are also durable and corrosion-resistant, so they don't need to be replaced frequently. This longevity combined with its recyclability makes aluminum a sustainable choice for your gutter needs.
Copper gutters are another eco-friendly option. While they're more expensive, copper gutters can last up to 100 years if properly maintained. This impressive lifespan reduces the need for replacements and conserves resources over time.
And at the end of their life, copper gutters are fully recyclable, just like steel and aluminum.
Why isn’t vinyl on the list?
Vinyl (aka, PVC) is a type of plastic that takes a significant amount of non-renewable resources to produce. The production process of vinyl releases dioxins into the environment, which are highly toxic and can accumulate in the food chain.
Additionally, while vinyl gutters are cost-effective and can last for several years, they are not biodegradable. This means that once they're discarded, they stay in landfills for hundreds of years without breaking down.
Gutter Material Selection FAQ
If you’re still not sure which gutter is right for you, here are some common questions about gutter material that can help with your decision.
What is the longest-lasting gutter material?
The longest-lasting gutter material is copper.
With proper maintenance, copper gutters can last anywhere from 50 to 150 years. This is longer than any other gutter material available on the market.
What is the strongest gutter?
The strongest gutter material is galvanized steel.
Galvanized steel gutters are heavy, durable, and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
Which lasts longer: vinyl or aluminum gutters?
Aluminum gutters last longer than vinyl gutters.
Aluminum gutters are more durable and provide more benefits overall compared to vinyl gutters. They won't crack, peel, rot, warp, or sag like vinyl gutters do. Additionally, gutter installation professionals generally prefer to use aluminum gutters because they are light and have fewer seams.
Installation: DIY vs Professional
When installing gutters, you have two main options: do it yourself (DIY) or hire a professional.
The best choice depends on your comfort level with home improvement projects, the complexity of the job, and the type of gutters you're installing.
What does gutter installation have to do with gutter durability?
A lot, actually.
The installation process of gutters can significantly impact durability and overall lifespan. If gutters are incorrectly installed, they may not function properly, leading to water damage or causing the gutters themselves to fail prematurely.
For instance, gutters need to be installed with a slight slope to ensure proper drainage. The downspouts need to be placed at the correct locations and the gutters securely fastened to avoid sagging or pulling away from your house.
While DIY installation might seem like a cost-effective option, it can lead to mistakes if you're not experienced. These mistakes will reduce the effectiveness and longevity of your gutter system.
On the other hand, professional installation ensures that the gutters are installed correctly to enhance their performance and durability. Professionals have the experience and knowledge to avoid common installation errors to ensure your gutters last for as long as possible.
Let’s break down each of these installation methods.
If you're handy around the house and enjoy tackling home improvement projects, you might consider installing your gutters yourself. For example, vinyl gutters are lightweight and easy to work with, making them a popular choice for DIY enthusiasts.
But keep in mind that some gutter manufacturers may void the warranty if the gutters are not professionally installed.
Remember, the key to successful gutter installation is ensuring correct pitch and placement. Gutters must slope towards downspouts to effectively channel water away from your home. If gutters are installed incorrectly, they can lead to water damage and foundation issues, and reduce the lifespan of your gutters.
While DIY installation can be cost-effective, it's only right for some situations.
Complex jobs, such as installing steel gutters or homes with unique roof lines, require professional expertise. Professionals have the necessary training and experience to ensure gutters are installed correctly to maximize their effectiveness and durability.
Hiring a professional will also save you time and reduce the risk of injury. Plus, many professionals offer warranties on their work, giving you peace of mind that if something goes wrong, they'll be there to fix it.
At Pacific Gutter, we offer professional gutter installation services tailored to your needs. We're committed to ensuring your gutters are installed correctly so they offer you the best protection for your home.
How else can I extend the durability or lifespan of my gutters?
Proper maintenance is key to extending the life of your gutters and ensuring they function effectively. Routine care will help prevent common gutter problems like blockages, leaks, and sagging.
Here are some maintenance tips you can use for your current gutter system or with a new one:
- Regular cleaning: Clean your gutters at least twice a year to remove leaves, twigs, and other debris that can cause blockages. If you have tall trees near your home, consider cleaning them more frequently.
- Inspect for damage: Regularly inspect your gutters for signs of damage, such as cracks, rust, or sagging. Early detection can prevent minor issues from becoming major problems.
- Seal leaks: If you notice a leak, seal it promptly using a gutter sealant. This can prevent water damage to your home's foundation and exterior.
- Ensure correct slope: Gutters should slope towards downspouts to channel water away from your home. If water pools in your gutters, adjust the slope as needed or contact your gutter installation company.
Making the Right Choice for Oregon Gutters
The lifespan of your gutter system depends on factors like material, installation method, and maintenance. By taking these factors into account, you can improve and extend the durability of your gutter system.