Aluminum gutters are the most popular choice for homeowners because they are durable and available in many options. The cost of aluminum gutters also tends to remain stable, making it easy to budget for installation.
The right aluminum gutters for your home should be based on the size and shape of the roof, as well as the local climate and rainfall. Aluminum gutters are lightweight, easy to work with, and 100% recyclable, making them a hard choice to beat when sized appropriately.
Here, we will discuss why aluminum gutters are so popular, how to select the right style and size, and how to maintain them to extend their life. We’ll also offer a few suggestions for how to improve or upgrade your aluminum gutters with accessories like splash blocks and gutter guards.
What are Aluminum Gutters?
You’ve probably thought of aluminum in other applications, but what is an aluminum gutter, and how might it be the best choice for your home? You might be surprised to know that aluminum is the most popular material used in gutter production today.
Aluminum is the perfect outdoor material because it contains no iron and will not rust. Aluminum gutters have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio as well, allowing them to carry many times their own weight in water.
They are installed so that they drain to a central location, like a scupper, drain, or downspout. They can be attached using several corrosion-resistant fasteners, like spikes, screws, and hangers. Installing do-it-yourself aluminum gutters can be dangerous work, so personal protective equipment, or PPE, is required during installation.
Aluminum gutters have several advantages over other gutter materials, such as galvanized steel, copper, vinyl, and concrete. Aluminum gutters are more versatile than concrete but stronger than either copper or vinyl gutters. Generally, the cost of aluminum gutters will be about 50% of the cost of steel or copper.
However, aluminum gutters cannot offer the patina of copper or the impact resistance of galvanized steel. Still, aluminum gutters are a good balance of performance and price and can be designed to be virtually maintenance-free.
How to Choose the Right Aluminum Gutters for Your Home
Other gutter materials like copper and steel are also commonly used to form gutters, but aluminum gutters offer the most value for the majority of homeowners.
Here’s a quick comparison of aluminum gutters vs. steel gutters and aluminum gutters vs copper gutters:
|Good durability/30-year lifespan
|Balance of strength, durability, and cost
|Low to moderate
|Very good/30 to 50-year lifespan
|Moderate to high
|Excellent/30-80 year lifespan
|Long lifespan and visual appeal
When shopping for aluminum gutters for your home, there are a few factors to consider, such as the size and shape of the roof, the roof pitch (or slope), the local climate, your preferences, and your budget.
Size, Shape, and Pitch
Aluminum gutters are available in 5”, 6”, 7”, and 8” sizes, making them appropriate for nearly any roof type. The shape, size, and pitch of your roof will affect which aluminum gutter style is most appropriate.
K-style and box-style aluminum gutters can carry the most water runoff per foot, but nothing can compare to the elegance of half-round gutters. Steeper roof pitches require wider gutters, as the velocity of the water can cause it to overshoot a narrow gutter and cause erosion.
Consider your local climate before choosing which aluminum gutter style is best for you. Regions with deciduous trees and heavy snowfall can benefit from oversized gutters and enlarged downspouts that help prevent clogs.
If constant cleaning is a hassle, gutter covers, guards, and screens fit great on aluminum gutters.
Aluminum gutters are long-lasting, so it’s important that you choose a style you enjoy. If you like to change the look of your home’s exterior frequently, aluminum gutters are a great choice because they are paintable.
Aluminum gutter coil, that is, the roll of material gutters are formed from, is available in colors other than white, giving you more design flexibility.
Aluminum gutters are among the least expensive materials, along with vinyl. If your budget is limited, aluminum gutters are a great option. Aluminum is a widely available commodity and 100% recyclable, so the price tends to remain affordable and stable.
Measuring Your Home For Aluminum Gutters
Accurately measuring your home for gutters will help you avoid mistakes, improve your gutter’s performance, and save you money on repairs. Pay special attention to how runoff is routed to avoid overloading your gutters or downspouts.
Remember to always add a downspout to the low end of any gutter section unless the gutter makes a turn. Gutters should extend about an inch past the roof, so be sure and allow for the extra in your measurements.
If the fascia board is too narrow to establish the correct gutter slope on a long section, make the middle of the section the high point and allow the gutter to slope to both ends at once. Then, you can measure that section as one seamless unit, which will help reduce leaks. Remember, you’ll need an extra downspout using this method, along with a downspout adapter.
How to Maintain Aluminum Gutters on Your Home
Although aluminum gutters are very durable, they do require periodic maintenance. It’s essential to keep your aluminum gutters in good condition and free of clogging debris.
Here are a few DIY tips for maintaining your aluminum gutters:
- Clean your aluminum gutters at least twice per year, preferably in late spring and late fall.
- Use a garden hose, gutter scoop, brush, or leaf blower to remove debris from the gutters and downspouts. Always work from the high to the low side, and be careful of your footing.
- Inspect your gutters for any cracks, holes, dents, or loose parts in the gutters and downspouts. If you see ground erosion, inspect the gutter directly above for a loose fastener.
- Repair any minor damages with caulk, sealant, or rivets. Screws are typically avoided except for fastening hangers and straps to the house.
- Replace any severely damaged or worn-out parts as soon as they fail. Water damage is often cumulative, so procrastinating allows the problem to worsen.
How to Improve or Upgrade Aluminum Gutters on Your Home
Ease of upgrading and improving are among the many benefits of installing aluminum gutters.
Here are a few suggestions for how to improve or upgrade aluminum gutters on your home by adding features and accessories:
- Install gutter guards or screens to prevent leaves and debris from entering the gutters.
- Add splash blocks or drain pipes to divert water at least 10’ away from the foundation.
- Install rain barrels or other rainwater collecting devices under the downspouts for gardening or as directed by your local municipality.
- Add splash guards and other accessories to enhance the appearance of the gutters and improve performance.
- Increase the size of the downspouts from 2” x 3” to 3” x 4”. These are more likely to pass large cones and leaves that might otherwise cause a backup.
When choosing the correct aluminum gutters for your home, consider the size and shape of the roof and the job the gutters will need to do. If your roof is extra steep or unusually large, installing 6” or 7” gutters will help prevent overflows and water damage.
If falling leaves, heavy snowfall, and cones constantly clog your aluminum gutters, investigate gutter guards and enlarged downspouts. These can help reduce or eliminate much of the hassles you’ll encounter from season to season.
Now that you know what aluminum gutters are, you are more prepared to ask better questions and get better answers.