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Comparing Gutter Guard Material- Steel, Vinyl, & Aluminum

Monday, December 20th by Kendra Dunnigan


A gutter and downspout attached to home.

This is an example of a gutter system with a downspout.

Gutter systems are made to guide rainwater out and away from the home’s foundation to prevent flooding. Without a proper gutter system, water damage will amplify. Find out what gutter material is best for your home and the climate you live in.

Benefits of an effective gutter system

  • Doesn’t clog
  • Protects home, landscaping & foundation from water damage
  • Maximizes water flow
  • Keeps debris out
  • Doesn’t sag or pull overtime

How do you know which gutter material is suitable for your home?

There are three common types of gutter material offered; steel, vinyl, and aluminum. Each option has both advantages and disadvantages. Luckily, our experts are here to inform you on which selection is perfect for your home.

Steel Gutters

A steel gutter system.

A steel gutter system is perfect for areas with severe weather.

Steel gutters can be coated in either zinc (galvanized), zinc-aluminum alloy (galvalume), or chrome (stainless steel). This option can take on harsh weather and still perform flawlessly.

  • Galvanized: the process of coating steel in protective layers of zinc.
  • Galvalume: Like galvanized, this coating contains zinc, aluminum, and silicon to protect steel from any oxidation.
  • Soldering: joining two or more pieces together by using different types of metal filters

Pros of steel gutters

  • Available in seamless and seamed (seams are soldered, making them less likely to leak) models
  • Available in galvanized and stainless steel versions
  • Can be used with any shingle without the added risk of corrosion
  • Can stand up to snow, hail, and heat
  • Strong & secure
  • Can be painted

Cons of steel gutters

  • Expands and contracts with heat
  • Installation costs are higher than vinyl or aluminum gutters
  • Some installers do not work with steel; finding a professional may be difficult
  • Available in a small variety of colors and styles
  • Prone to rust
  • Heavy

Vinyl (PVC) Gutters

A vinyl gutter system.

Vinyl gutters come in many colors to match your home!

Vinyl is the least expensive of the three favored gutter materials. Color choices are limited, but they can be painted to match the style and shade of any home. Homeowners in a dry climate can expect 20 years with this option, and residents in a more wet climate can expect around ten years.

Pros of vinyl gutters

  • A popular choice due to low pricing and weight
  • Sections snap together- not requiring joints
  • Low maintenance
  • No rust or corrode
  • Color is embedded in material; scratches are less noticeable

Cons of vinyl gutters

  • Won’t hold up in climates with lots of rain, wind, and snow (best suited for mild to dry climates)
  • Prone to cracking and sagging
  • Only available in tradition section models (more seams = more likely to leak)

Aluminum Gutters

A close up of aluminum gutters.

Aluminum gutters are the most popular and easiest to find.

Aluminum is the most durable and reliable gutter material on the market. This low-cost metal comes in a wide selection of colors. However, it's important to note that not all aluminum gutters are created equal. Some gutter companies use thin, cheap aluminum (0.024”-0.027”) which will be more susceptible to damage. If you get aluminum gutters installed, make sure they're made from 0.032” premium-grade aluminum. That is the strongest and thickest aluminum available and will help prevent distortion and deliver a clean, laser-straight product. Aluminum gutters are usually either 5 inches in width (standard size) or 6 inches in width. 6" aluminum gutters however can hold in 20% more water than industry standard, 5" gutters. Aluminum also won’t rust! Aluminum gutters are available in seamless and seamed sections.

Pros of aluminum gutters

  • It’s lighter, which means it won’t sag & easier to handle
  • Popular & accessible
  • You can paint it if the desired color is not available

Cons

  • If become dented, can interfere with the flow of water

Less common gutter materials

There are more gutter materials worth mentioning—first, wood, an old favorite. Wood gutters were most common in the 1960s. They can add a vintage, old-fashioned aesthetic. If a homeowner does decide to use wood, choosing cedar is the best choice since it will last the longest. On the downside, it is expensive to install, and it has the least amount of durability out of all gutter options. The second material is copper. Copper gutters are extremely durable, especially during rain and wind storms. Little maintenance is required, and they rarely need to be replaced, but they are also quite expensive to install. Even though these two materials are not as popular as aluminum, steel, and vinyl, they have pros that may be worth looking into.

Contact a local Gutter Shutter contractor to assist in your decision

Whether or not you need gutters is dependent on where you live, the type of weather you get, or if the ground around your home slopes towards your foundation. Allow trusted gutter professionals to guide you in the right direction! It’s never too late to contact Gutter Shutter and get your free estimate. Get started today by calling to find your true gutter match!