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Aluminum vs. Plastic Gutters

Date: June 26, 2022

Gutters are an essential part of a house, especially one in a rainy area. They divert and channel the rainwater to one area away from the foundation of the house. 

They prevent soil erosion and damage to the foundation and also prevent or reduce basement flooding from water that may pool around the house. 

Gutters are made from different materials that may present difficult choices for homeowners looking to install them. Two of these options are plastic and aluminum gutters. 

Choosing aluminum vs. plastic gutters entails knowing their pros and cons, and in this article, we will help you choose the option that is right for you.

Aluminum gutters 

Aluminum gutters and their pros and cons

Aluminum gutters are the most common type of metal gutters. This is because they offer efficient gutter solutions with a range of advantages over other materials. 

They make up most of the gutter systems in the US, and they can be constructed from primary or recycled aluminum. Seamed and seamless aluminum gutters are two of the most commonly touted types of aluminum gutters. 

Seamless aluminum gutters are custom-made on-site and can only be obtained with professional installers. The seamed version is a decent solution for homeowners who want to install their own gutters.  

The advantages of aluminum gutters  

1. They are lightweight 

Gutters are meant to hold and channel rainwater. During a heavy downpour, there is a lot of water running along the gutters that may sometimes overflow. 

It is important to have gutters that can support the weight of the water as well as their own weight. Aluminum gutters are lightweight and can hold more water compared to other materials. 

2. They are durable 

Durability is an important factor when it comes to installing gutters to serve you in the long term. Aluminum gutters can withstand the weight of snow and hail and can last a long time without damage. 

This is seen in most seamless gutters, which may last up to 20 years. 

3. They are available in seamless options 

Aluminum gutters are available both in seamless and sectional options. Seams are breaks in the length of gutters which can be okay for houses in moderate climate conditions but a huge problem for those in extreme weather conditions. 

Rain, snow, and ice can cause gutters to sag when they accumulate in the system too quickly due to particular weather conditions. 

Gutters with seams are at risk of separating, causing gutter leaks which cause damage to the roof and house. 

Seamless aluminum and other metal gutter systems address this problem. A rolling machine is used by a skilled gutter installation crew to cut flawless, seamless aluminum gutter parts to fit your property. 

4. They offer a wide choice of colors  

Their widespread use has resulted in an abundance of options, including a wide range of colors and designs. To get the exact color you desire, you can paint them yourself.  

Aluminum gutters come in a wide range of colors, making it simple to match them to the color of your house, roof, or exterior paint.  

5. They require little maintenance 

Since aluminum gutters are durable and don't rust, they can last longer compared to PVC gutters. They require little maintenance and can be painted to offer extra shelf life. 

The enamel offers additional protection making the gutters last longer. 

6. They are easy to install 

The most popular gutter material is aluminum since it combines many of the advantages of other gutters into a single product. 

It won't sag, and it's a lot lighter and easier to handle, making it easier to install. 

7. They can be used in various climates 

Aluminum gutters perform exceptionally well in any environment. Homeowners can have peace of mind knowing that when they install or have installed aluminum gutters, they are doing so for a very long time because they won't rust, corrode, or decay in the same way that older models did. 

The disadvantages of aluminum gutters 

1. They bend and dent easily  

Heavy snow, hail, and wind can easily damage aluminum gutters, making them unsuitable for particular areas. They can be used with minor dents, but larger ones can hinder water flow and should be corrected. 

Enamel is applied to the majority of metal gutters, but this coating eventually wears away. After some time, you'll have to paint your gutters to maintain them looking their best. 

2. They can easily corrode in coastal climates 

Aluminum doesn't rust, but it can corrode from protracted exposure to moisture and salt, which is a problem in coastal areas.  

3. They wear off easily when in contact with less reactive metals  

Aluminum is more reactive than copper, and in the presence of a common electrolyte, such as water with some ionic content, galvanic corrosion can occur between aluminum and copper. 

If your roof has copper flashings or algae-resistant shingles, you should not install aluminum gutters. The aluminum will corrode faster because of the small amount of copper that washes off the roof. 

Plastic gutters

Plastic gutters and their pros and cons

Plastic gutters, also known as vinyl or PVC gutters, are lightweight and are common options for gutter installations. They are still relatively new in the industry but and they have not yet surpassed aluminum gutters in terms of popularity.  

Vinyl gutters are made of a type of PVC plastic that has been carefully formatted and adds a number of benefits exclusive to it. 

They are generally the material of choice for many homeowners and contractors because of their PVC composition, which makes it an affordable and long-lasting material since it is one of the least expensive materials available on the market. 

The advantages of vinyl gutters 

1. They are durable 

Vinyl gutters are exceptionally long-lasting due to their ability to tolerate heavy water and their invulnerability to bending or denting. This is even if they are unintentionally hit with a branch or ladder, for example. 

In addition, vinyl does not rust, corrode, or deteriorate in any other way.  

2. They are affordable 

Vinyl (PVC) gutters have become an increasingly popular option, mostly as a result of their affordability and portability. These gutters may be purchased for about $3 to $5 for a 10 feet long section. 

3. They are easy to install 

Due to the fact that they are lightweight, they are simple to handle and set up. 

It is not necessary to use joints or rivets because the portions can simply be snapped together, not only reducing the amount of time and money required for expert installation but also enabling DIY installation.  

4. They require little maintenance 

Vinyl gutters require little to no maintenance. They will not rust or corrode and will not have dents caused by wind-blown tree limbs or ladders that are placed improperly.  

5. They are available in various colors 

Because the color is embedded in the material rather than being painted or powder-coated, scratches are less obvious. You won't need to paint these gutters to match your roof because they are available in a broad choice of colors.  

The disadvantages of vinyl gutters 

Most contractors do not recommend vinyl gutters as their first choice when given the option. This is because their disadvantages, which are more significant in the long run, outweigh their benefits. 

The following are some of the disadvantages

1. They are susceptible to damage during temperature extremes 

Vinyl gutters are not as durable in really cold areas, despite the fact that they perform admirably in environments with a warmer climate and in regular use. This is due to the fact that vinyl, like many other types of plastic, will expand when exposed to heat and contract when exposed to cold. 

This makes them susceptible to becoming brittle over time and eventually cracking. 

2. They have structural weaknesses  

Traditional sectional models are the only ones that can be purchased, and these models have more seams than seamless models do. It is more possible for water to get in through their seams because they are not soldered like the joints in some metal gutters. 

3. They have a short lifespan  

Vinyl gutters, because of their low weight, are not suited for use in environments that experience high levels of precipitation (rain, snow, or strong winds). 

They will not corrode, but they are prone to sagging and breaking, and their lifespan is not very lengthy. 

How to increase the lifespan of your gutters  

Gutters have overall importance in more than just diverting water down a roof. To maintain their function, there are some measures you can take to ensure they perform for the longest time. 

Gutter Accessories 

Installing the right kind of gutters isn't the only way to ensure that your system will last. You can install gutter accessories as they have a lot of advantages, some of which are listed below: 

1. Gutter heating systems  

There is a risk of frozen gutters in cold climates. They prevent water or thawing snow from being routed to the downspouts, which causes roof damage by driving moisture into the shingles. 

The additional weight can also lead to sags in your gutter system. 

Installing heated gutter systems helps keep your gutters from freezing. Heating cables are positioned near the roof's edges to emit just enough heat to keep rainwater from freezing and clogging your gutters with ice or snow. 

A self-regulating gutter heater can help you save money on your electricity bill throughout the winter months. 

2. Gutter guards 

Gutter guards, why you should install them

It doesn't matter how long-lasting the gutter system is if it isn't properly maintained. Gutter cleaning is a laborious but important task that ensures the gutters are free from mechanical damage as well as prevents other problems such as roof damage

Hiring a professional gutter cleaner is a solution since most homeowners don't have the time to clean up their gutters. This is, however, a costly option, and gutter guards are great replacements that also reduce the frequency of maintenance

Frequently asked questions 

Why are metal gutters preferable to vinyl gutters? 

Advantages of aluminum gutters over plastic gutters

Depending on where you live, you may consider vinyl or metal gutters. Each has preferable and comparable qualities that influence whether you'll need metal or vinyl gutters. 

Vinyl gutters are extensively utilized across the country due to their simplicity of installation, low cost, and color and texture options. 

Vinyl gutters have some disadvantages that make metal gutters more preferable. 

These are some of the differences on aluminum vs. plastic gutters: 

1. Vinyl gutters have a wider variety of colors and textures than metal ones, and they're also far less expensive. Vinyl is lightweight and easy to install, and it can survive the elements for a long period of time. 

Vinyl gutters are most popular than metal gutters because of their attractive appearance and lower cost.  

2. Vinyl is a wonderful choice, especially in locations that remain warm and humid throughout the year. It does not corrode like steel does when exposed to rain and moisture. 

However, in regions like the Midwest, when summers are hot, and winters are cold, vinyl's brittleness is accelerated by the freeze-and-thaw cycle causing cracks in their gutters in as little as two years. 

3. The sun can also induce fading in vinyl gutters in areas that are most frequently exposed to the sun. They will gradually lose their color as the year goes on, and the fading becomes clearly visible, especially if the homeowner chooses deeper colors.  

4. In order to avoid cracked gutters due to freeze and thaw cycles, as well as the risk of sun fading, aluminum gutters are the best option. Aluminum gutters are also paint-ready and may be primed and painted using high-quality materials to prevent rust. 

5. Compared to vinyl, aluminum gutters are significantly more durable, and in many situations, they're even more economical.  

6. Seamless gutters are easily available to homeowners across the country, but it was only in the last several years that vinyl gutters were widely accessible in seamless sections. If you live in a region where seamless gutters are not readily available, this may be a major drawback to using vinyl for your home's gutters.  

Vinyl, despite its attractive appearance and low cost, has its drawbacks and isn't always the ideal option in some areas of the country. Luckily, you have a wide range of alternative options to choose from.

Plastic or metal gutters: Which is better?

Choosing aluminum vs. plastic gutters can be difficult. Vinyl or metal gutters may be suitable for your area. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

Vinyl gutters are popular because of their lower cost and lovely appearance. Aluminum gutters prevent cracked gutters from freeze-thaw cycles and sun fading. Aluminum gutters can be primed and coated to prevent rust.

About Mikku & Sons
Our roofing company was founded in 2001 by Michael Riutta, who is still part of the ownership and management team. Between Michael, his two sons and co-owners, Devin and Joshua, and our crew members, we have many years of experience to handle any type of roof repair or roof installation solutions you may need.
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