The material that your gutters are made of is as important as any other feature or configuration of your gutters themselves; some would say the choice of gutter material is the one, single most important choice you’ll make when installing new gutters. Certainly, choosing one gutter material over another will dictate most, if not all, of the other features of your gutter setup.
Those in the business of installing gutters generally agree that, among the five or so most common materials used in gutters, the best value comes from installing gutters made from either aluminum or galvanized steel. This is not to say that other, more traditional materials do not provide value, or do not work well. It is simply that, when you consider the overall combination of affordability, durability, and how long they last, aluminum and, specifically, galvanized steel, give you the best bang for your buck.
Getting to Know Aluminum
All else being equal, your first choice of gutter material should probably be aluminum. Not only is aluminum the most affordable when it comes to gutter construction, its price doesn’t detract from the fact that aluminum’s properties are very well-suited to properly functioning gutters. First and foremost, aluminum does not rust. No matter how much moisture your gutters are exposed to, aluminum will stand up to the test of time. Secondly, it is lightweight, which makes it eminently suited to just about any house. As aluminum gutters aren’t as heavy as some others would be, they wouldn’t need additional construction to ensure your home can support them.
A Quick Look at Steel
Galvanized steel gutters can be considered an alternative to aluminum systems. While aluminum works as well or better in most situations, there are specific areas where steel gutters outperform aluminum ones. For starters, because steel is more durable than aluminum, they stand up better to extremes of weather, particularly in areas that experience heavy rains or snow. Galvanized steel will eventually rust, however, although it can take decades. If you don’t want to take chances, you can opt for stainless steel gutters.
Just as important as the material they’re made of is how the gutters conform to your home’s dimensions, as we’ll see in Part II.