In terms of materials, aluminum rain gutters are the most common, due to their low cost, durability, and ease to work with. Unlike steel, aluminum will not rust over time, and is available in a wide range of colors. Galvanized steel gutters will eventually rust after about 20 years, but steel is more resilient to the elements making it a popular option for regions that experience severe weather patterns. Stainless steel will not rust however the additional cost over aluminum is substantial.
Copper rain gutters are another stronger but costlier option when compared with aluminum. Copper does however carry a very distinct look which appeals to many property owners with older or high end structures. The aging of copper due to weathering is known as the “patina” effect. Copper will only stay shiny for a few months before going through a variety of color changes ranging from brown, to purple, and then eventually to green. There are products available that will maintain the shiny look of copper but it’s important to consider not only their high cost but the constant maintenance as well.
When installing rain gutter, the most important factors are size, thickness, and whether to get a seamless or sectional installation. The most common sizes are 5” for house gutters, and 6” for commercial gutters, as measured from the top opening. In terms of thickness, standard aluminum gutters are sold in gauges ranging from .019 to .032. Copper is sold by weight with 16 ounce and 20 ounce being the most common. Steel is sold by either inch thickness or gauge.
There are many different types of gutter guards available. They are usually made of either vinyl or some type of metal, but all serve the same purpose of keeping solids out while still allowing water to filtrate. One type of guard is a screen that’s attached to the inside of the gutter, similar to what you’d find in a window. Another type is a mostly solid piece which covers the entire gutter, but has small holes allowing the water to pass through. The final most common type is a porous material that fills the gutter.
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