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Vinyl vs Aluminum vs Steel Gutters | Pros and Cons

vinyl vs aluminum vs steel gutters pros and cons

Gutters are a crucial part of any home’s exterior. They protect the foundation from water that builds up on the roof, and they also help to divert rainwater away from your house. In this blog post we settle the debate of Vinyl vs Aluminum vs Steel Gutters!

Vinyl vs Aluminum vs Steel Gutters

The material that you choose for your gutters is important because it affects how well they work, as well as their durability and appearance.

In this blog post we will discuss three different types of gutter materials: vinyl, aluminum, and steel

We will talk about their pros and cons so you can make an educated decision when choosing what type of gutter to install on your home!

Three different types of materials that gutters can be made up of

  • Vinyl

Vinyl gutters are one of the most popular choices among homeowners today because they are affordable and very versatile. 

They come in many different colors and styles so they can match any house or business. 

Vinyl gutters are also very lightweight which makes them easy to handle, install, and clean out.

Another great thing about vinyl is that it requires little maintenance and will not rust like steel or aluminum guttering might. 

It is also very durable and should last the average homeowner at least 40-50 years if installed correctly.

However, the biggest con when it comes to vinyl is that in certain climates and weather conditions, they can swell and warp which can create a lot of loud gushing noise during a rainstorm. 

Fortunately, there are manufacturers out there who make “fully moderated” vinyl gutters which eliminates this issue altogether.

  • Steel

Steel gutters are a good choice for people who want to have a sturdy and durable gutter that is going to last them a lifetime. 

They tend not to rust from exposure because they are protected by a polymer coating, making them very maintenance free in addition to their long life span.

However, steel gutters do tend to be the heaviest out of all three materials and can therefore be difficult to install and clean. 

They also tend to come in only black which may not match certain houses or businesses, although there are some manufacturers that offer white steel guttering as well.

Steel is a good material for gutters because it is very sturdy and should last many years before needing replacement. 

It also holds up well in high moisture conditions that might cause aluminum to rust, but it can be an expensive option that not everyone may want to pursue due its weight and lack of color choices.

  • Aluminum

Aluminum gutters are a popular choice because they are affordable and can last a lifetime as well. 

They come in a wide assortment of colors and styles, which makes them an excellent choice if you want to match your guttering to the rest of your home or business.

Aluminum gutters are also very lightweight and easy to install, although they do tend to rust over time from exposure to the elements. 

However, there are certain manufacturers that offer anodized aluminum guttering which greatly reduces the chances of it rusting and corroding.

The biggest con when it comes to aluminum is that over time they can start to rust if not properly cared for. 

They will need to be cleaned out regularly in order to make sure all small pieces do not start to rust and clog up your gutters while also making sure that there is no paint chipping or peeling.

Overall, it’s important to do some more research on all three of these materials in order to get a better understanding of what might work the best for you, but overall vinyl seems like one of the more versatile and popular choices.

Pros of Vinyl Gutters

  • Vinyl gutters are lightweight.
  • Vinyl gutters reduce risk of ice damming.
  • Vinyl gutters are not very expensive (~$8/ft).

Cons Of Vinyl Gutters

  • Less durable than aluminum or steel.
  • Not as safe as metal gutters against rusting and corrosion.
  • Vinyl gutters are very flexible and can sag over time if installed incorrectly.
  • They do not support weight well so you shouldn’t use them for roof tops or other high traffic areas where they will be walked on.

Pros of Aluminum Gutters

  • Aluminum gutters are extremely durable, perhaps the most durable material available. It has a life expectancy of over 100 years.
  • Aluminum gutters resist rust and corrosion for longer than any other gutter material, which makes it the optimal choice for areas with harsh winter climates.
  • These gutters are non-corroding and self-cleaning (rain water flushes off easily).

Cons of Aluminum Gutters

  • Expensive (~$23/ft)
  • Aluminum gutters are not very flexible and can break if installed incorrectly. They should only be installed on roofs with slopes less than 45°.

Pros of Steel Gutters

  • Steel gutters are roughly half the price of aluminum gutters (~$13.50/ft).
  • Steel gutters are nearly as durable as aluminum gutters.
  • Steel gutters don’t corrode and rust like aluminum gutters – they merely get dirty and lose their coating if the paint isn’t maintained.

Cons Of Steel Gutters

  • Heavier than other materials so they may cause structural damage to roofs if not installed properly.
  • Not as flexible or non-corrosive so they aren’t ideal for harsh climates.

How to choose which is suited for your home?

Talk with a local experienced metal roofing contractor, who can help you determine the best gutters and gutter material for your specific climate and home. 

Local contractors will be familiar with what materials other homes in your area tend to use and which ones function the best.

An experienced contractor should also be able to inform you of any special types of gutters and gutter materials that might be available for your specific home or location, to give you the best chance of getting a product that will last a long time.

Picking the right one can prove difficult

The right gutter material depends on your climate and budget. 

Aluminum gutters can corrode in harsh climates such as coastal areas, while some colors of vinyl gutters fade over time.

Steel is durable but requires regular cleaning for it to look clean and new. 

Choose the right gutters for your house by considering the cost, durability and appearance of each material.

The Decision Tree will help you choose which is suited for your home

1) How much roof runoff do I have?

If your home has larger roof surfaces requiring more water collection, aluminum gutters are generally preferred over steel gutters because of their strength and durability. 

If your home needs a lot of roof surface water to be collected, the added weight of the steel gutters might force you to install stronger roof support brackets than an aluminum gutter system would require.

2) What is my climate like?

The major concern for homes in harsh winter climates is whether or not the gutters and downspouts will rust. 

Steel gutters won’t suffer from rust and thus, they make a great choice for these homes.

3) How much money do I want to spend?

While steel gutters might be the best choice for your home if you live in a harsh winter climate, steel is generally more expensive than aluminum. 

If you’re on a budget, aluminum gutters are likely your best option for gutters that will not only function well but also look great.

4) What size home do I have?

Homes with larger roof surfaces or homes with very long roofs can be difficult to outfit with an adequate gutter system without the support of steel gutters. 

While steel gutters may not be necessary for smaller homes, they can be a great choice if you have a larger home with a lot of roof surface area to collect water from.

For most homeowners, aluminum gutters will likely be the best option because they are more durable than vinyl gutters and not nearly as expensive. 

For very large homes or homes with excessive roof run off where steel gutter support brackets may be required, steel gutters might be the best choice.

Tips to keep your gutters in good shape over time

The most important part of gutter maintenance is the actual cleaning. It has been found that up to 80% of all issues with gutters are caused by improper cleaning. 

By far, the best way to clean your gutters is using a telescoping extension ladder; most experts recommend doing this twice per year, in Spring and Fall.

However, there are a number of different tools that can be used to clean the gutters, depending on how high up they are and what kind of gutter system you have. 

If you have an aluminum or vinyl gutter system, a leaf blower is a great option for cleaning out debris – just make sure to cover your head with something so no debris blows back in your face!

Final Thoughts

Vinyl gutters are one of the most popular choices because they are very low-cost but still attractive. 

Aluminum gutters are also an excellent choice because they are very low-maintenance, durable, and attractive. 

Steel gutters are an excellent choice for harsh climates or homes with high amounts of roof runoff.

The key is to do your research ahead of time so you know what type of material you need, then sit down with a local contractor who specializes in gutters and discuss which would work best for your specific home and area. 

Once you know what type of material is needed, the contractor will be able to install it quickly, for a new roof that needs no maintenance and will not leak.

Gutters: Vinyl vs. Aluminum vs. Steel