Gutter systems collect the rainwater runoff at the edges of the roof and channel it down to the ground. When the gutters are poorly installed, damaged, or dented, the water drips, sheets off and streams of the roof in unpredictable patterns. In time, these uncontrolled water runoffs can wreak havoc on your home. The roof’s structure will get damaged, you will have leaks on the interior of your home which leads to ceiling, furniture and floor damage. What’s more, the exterior finish and the structure of your walls will have to suffer.
Gutter systems come in various styles, sizes and can be made of either metal or plastic. Historically, gutters were made solely of metal (either steel, tin, aluminum, but mainly copper), but recent technology developments have made plastic gutters very popular. Copper gutters look great but are fairly expensive, while PVC gutters are easy to install and cheap. Let’s see which type is the best for your home:
Almost all plastic gutters are made of polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as PVC or vinyl. This highly durable, malleable and relatively cheap material has been used for decades for various piping applications, with great success. Industry experts estimate that almost 70 percent of sanitation pipes (drinking water as well as sewage pipes) are made of PVC and this number is continuously rising.
Similarly, PVC gutters are extremely popular among homeowners thanks to their easy installation, affordability, and durability. Installing a PVC gutter requires only a small set of basic tools, sealants, and the whole job can be completed by a single person. Sealing the joints is extremely simple: PVC gutters only require neoprene gaskets or silicone. When compared to other materials, PVC expands and contracts the most. To avoid expansion damage, the inside of the connector element is marked at certain temperatures. When installing the gutters, simply cut the piece at the length suggested by the current temperature. Because they are lighter than metal gutters, vinyl gutters can be attached to the fascia with either a single-piece or double-piece hidden bracket system.
Other advantages of vinyl gutters are their adaptability and easy maintenance. While the most popular colors are brown (various shades), white or gray, you can have them custom made in any color imaginable. What’s more, you can have your gutters in a shiny or matte finish, and, if you want to have a unique design, you can even paint them. When it comes to maintenance, PVC gutters rarely need to be cleaned, so they won’t be a bother once you have them installed.
A downside of PVC gutters is that, over time, they become brittle, especially in colder climates. If you live in an area prone to ice or snow storms, your vinyl gutters may not hold up as well as metal gutters. Also, keep in mind that PVC gutters may not support the weight of a person on a ladder.
Copper is the leading material for gutter systems. It has all the practical advantages: it’s naturally rust resistant, they suffer minimal expansion and contraction, and they are extremely durable. What makes them particularly special, though, is their spectacular appearance. Copper gutters simply look great on any home, regardless of its architectural style or location. It’s what makes many homeowners spend a lot of extra money to have them on their house.
Copper gutters are also difficult to install. They come pre-soldered and each segment has to be designed and adapted on the spot. They are held by straphangers, multiple hidden brackets, and decorative elements. All these accessories cost extra, so the price for a complete copper gutter system can go up quite quickly. Copper gutters also need careful and periodic maintenance. While the greenish patina is very attractive for most homeowners, some prefer the shiny brown look which can only be maintained by applying a special sealant every year.
Choosing the right gutters can become overwhelming, so your best option is to seek advice from an expert, such as the guys at Aerotech.
Flaviu Mircea, a homeowner and DIY guy, is constantly finding ways to improve his living quarters and enjoys sharing his tips with his readers. If you would like to learn more about Flaviu, you can check out his google+ profile.