When choosing gutters, you have three aspects to consider: the shape or style, the material, and whether the gutters are seamless or sectional. If you add up every possible combination of features, you will have a list with dozens of types of gutters.
This list focuses on the different materials available. Note that when you purchase gutters, you will also have several styles to choose from. The most popular options are half-round, K-style, and box-style gutters. You will also have to decide between seamless or sectional gutters.
Aluminum may be the most popular material choice for gutters. It is lightweight, rust-resistant, and weatherproof. Aluminum is also easy to paint, which is important if you are worried about matching your gutters to the color of your siding.
Generally, the more expensive the material, the more durable the gutters—and aluminum is on the lower end of the price spectrum. Although aluminum is relatively strong, it is more prone to denting and bending than other metals.
There are two types of steel gutters: galvanized and stainless. Galvanized steel gutters feature a thin outer layer of zinc to prevent rusting, and stainless steel features a mixture of steel and rust-resistant chromium. Steel gutters are more durable than aluminum gutters but also much heavier.
Galvanized steel is the lighter and less expensive of the two. However, it is also less durable, particularly when exposed to saltwater. Stainless steel offers superior weatherproofing but costs more. Both types of steel are heavy and require welding, which makes them unsuitable for DIY installation.
Copper or Zinc Gutters
Copper gutters are completely rustproof and can stand up to all weather conditions. Further, many people like copper’s aesthetic, particularly on historic homes. Copper gutters can last for generations if properly installed and maintained, and their price reflects that fact. However, copper develops a greenish patina over time as the metal oxidizes.
Zinc offers similar benefits to copper but becomes more attractive as oxidation sets in. Zinc gutters are also less expensive. Both types of gutters require welding to install.
Vinyl gutters are lightweight, inexpensive, and designed for easy installation, making them a great choice for DIYers. They come in a variety of colors to match vinyl siding. If you cannot find an exact match, you can also paint vinyl gutters.
The biggest downside to vinyl gutters is their durability. Vinyl is waterproof and will not corrode or rust, even in salty air. However, it can become brittle and crack over time, especially if exposed to extreme temperatures. As a result, vinyl gutters work best in mild climates.