There are many different types of materials used for gutters, but the most common are vinyl and aluminum. For DIYers without a lot of experience, vinyl systems that simply snap together can seem like an attractive choice. Unfortunately, this system has a very short lifespan. Plastic is susceptible to cracking under weight and due to continued UV exposure, thereby causing lots of leaks and clogs.
Aluminum is nearly as lightweight as vinyl but much more durable and eco-friendly. Most seamless gutter designs are made from aluminum since vinyl is only manufactured in sections.
Though an aluminum gutter system is susceptible to rust, most are covered in a protective coating and paint to protect them.
Pros and Cons of Vinyl Gutters
- Affordability: One of the major advantages of vinyl gutters is that they are generally more affordable than aluminum gutters. But, as usual, you get what you pay for over time.
- Durability: Unfortunately, vinyl gutters lack durability and can eventually become warped over time due to extreme weather conditions. This will require frequent replacements, which can add up.
Pros and Cons of Aluminum Gutters
- Strength & Durability: Aluminum gutters boast excellent strength and durability and won’t warp like vinyl. They come in various color options to match your home’s exterior, so you don’t have to worry about compromising aesthetics. Additionally, aluminum gutters tend to outlast vinyl ones due to their ability to withstand adverse weather conditions better.
- Weight Tolerance: Aluminum gutters are usually stronger and can handle more weight than vinyl. This can be particularly important in areas where heavy rainfall or snow and ice are common (hello Pacific Northwest winters!).
- Color Options: Aluminum gutters often come in a wider range of colors than vinyl. They can also be painted to match your home’s exterior, while vinyl gutters cannot.
- Longevity: With proper maintenance, aluminum gutters can last for 20 years or more. Vinyl gutters typically have a shorter lifespan.
- Heat Resistance: Aluminum is more resistant to heat than vinyl. In areas with high temperatures, vinyl gutters can warp or even melt, while aluminum maintains its shape and functionality (hello Pacific Northwest summers!)
- Environmental Considerations: Aluminum is recyclable, making it a more environmentally friendly choice than vinyl, which is harder to recycle and takes a long time to break down in a landfill.
- Upgrades and Improvements: Aluminum gutters have more options when it comes to adding things like gutter guards, screens, or other upgrades that can improve their functionality. In some cases, your existing aluminum gutters can be retrofitted to accommodate state-of-the-art rain systems like the Gutter Shutter.
- ROI: Aluminum gutters can also reduce maintenance costs, which in turn improve the overall protection and value of your home, particularly when sussed in conjunction with a reverse curve gutter system. Aluminum’s durability and resistance to rust, combined with the reverse curve system’s resistance to debris buildup, help to continuously channel water away from the home, preventing damage to the foundation, siding, and landscape.
- Improved Aesthetics and Home Value: Well-maintained gutters can add to a home’s resale value. Potential homebuyers appreciate good quality, low maintenance gutters, and reverse curve gutters in particular have a unique design that homeowners find visually appealing.
- Cost: The only downside is their higher initial cost compared to vinyl. However, considering the longevity of aluminum, this cost difference is easily offset by the savings on replacements for vinyl over time.
Aluminum Gutters: The Superior Option
Ultimately, the choice between aluminum and vinyl gutters depends on your needs and budget. While vinyl may be more affordable initially, its shorter lifespan makes aluminum a better option in the long run if you want something built to last and won’t leave you with a maintenance headache.