This article will explain the different types of guttering that are currently available, and examine the benefits, and any downfalls of each different type.
- Why do we Need Guttering?
- What are the Different Types of Guttering Available
- Guttering Materials
- Guttering Profiles
You may not be aware of how vital the guttering on your property is and just treat it as an extension of your roof and something that you needn’t be concerned about. Gutters are often overlooked by property owners because they are one of those things that just function on their own and get on with their role, making it easy to forget that they need to be regularly maintained.
The exact opposite is actually true, and your guttering is essential to the longevity of your property, and at in a worst case scenario failing guttering can significantly damage the structural integrity of your property and undermine walls and foundations. The good news however is that repairs to your property’s guttering can be relatively cheap, and apart from having to work at heights, a relatively easy task for the average DIY enthusiast.
Why do we Need Guttering?
Before we look at the different types of guttering available it is worth considering why our property actually needs to have gutters. Gutters have one job and one job only, to divert water away from your property. This water is channelled through downpipes where it exits away from your home. It can also channel water into a tank or barrel for garden use during dry weather.
The most important tasks that your gutters perform on your property are to prevent erosion and to protect the foundations of your home, a pretty major responsibility for a very over looked building component. The foundations of your property can become damaged by non-functioning or bad guttering, a constant flow of water can cause cracks to start to form.
Guttering systems that are not well maintained can cause water to run underneath your roof tiles, potentially causing significant roof damage. Additionally, your gutters will prevent staining to the exterior of your home, potential damage to any rendering or paint, and will prevent the growth of mildew and mould.
If your property has a cellar or basement then this can also be liable to flood if your guttering is not functioning correctly.
So, for these reasons the installation of gutters is essential, and it cannot be underestimated how important a good, functional guttering system is to your property.
Although on the positive side, guttering isn’t usually very expensive. To some degree it depends on the materials used to make the gutters – whether you go for aluminium, copper, or uPVC. Each material has its pros and cons, so it is important to choose which one is best suited for your home from the wide range of guttering types that are available.
What are the Different Types of Guttering Available
When it comes to choosing guttering there are two main factors that need to be considered, profile and materials. The profile refers to the shape of the cross section of the guttering and the material is pretty much self-explanatory!! We will look at the various options within these factors and this should help you identify the different types of guttering available. This will allow you to identify what you currently have on your property and leave you fully informed if you need to repair or replace any part of your guttering.
Always ensure that your guttering has a guarantee and is constructed to the relevant British Standard.
Additional consideration is required if you live in a terraced or semi-detached property as at some point your neighbours guttering will join yours. This does not have to unduly restrict your choices but it should be considered. The majority of guttering systems can incorporate adaptors that enable you to join onto different systems but you have to be aware of the profile, and sometimes the manufacturer of your neighbours’ system.
Your first choice is quite simple, whether to go for plastic or metal. Plastic is by far the most popular and easiest to install, as well as being the cheapest but metal does give you far more scope in terms of the shape and colour options available.
Your choice of guttering materials also needs you to consider three core factors. These are the location of your property, the type of property and the look and style that you wish to achieve from your guttering. There are many different types of guttering available giving you a wide choice that should suit all of your needs.
Plastic / uPVC (Unplasticised Polyvinyl Chloride) Guttering
For a low cost and reliable guttering system plastic is an excellent choice. A plastic guttering system is easy to install, and can withstand extreme weather conditions and temperature fluctuations without showing any external signs of wear. It is also an excellent choice if you are in area of high rainfall, basically, anywhere in this country !!, as plastic guttering is excellent at handling high volumes of water.
It is worth noting that nearly all plastic guttering systems come in 4 colours, black, brown, grey and white. Colour is obviously a personal choice but do consider how your property looks from the kerb. Is there an obvious colour scheme or feel? It goes without saying that if your house has the fascias, doors and windows all finished in teak then you should be strongly considering brown rather than white.
Plastic Guttering Pros and Cons
- Plastic guttering can be used for commercial, industrial and domestic properties
- This is a very economical product
- Plastic guttering is extremely lightweight
- Very durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions throughout the year
- Various colours are available
- Post installation no painting is ever required
- Plastic guttering is produced in one continuous run so there are no seams or weak points
- This product will show less scratches, marks or dents
- Totally water resistant so should not freeze or corrode
- Plastic guttering is highly flexible so should not lose shape when accumulations of snow, ice and debris gather
- Plastic guttering does unfortunately tend to get brittle over the years through exposure to sunlight and extreme weather
- Plastic guttering can sometimes crack if pressure is placed upon it if there is any brittleness present
If you are looking for a low maintenance guttering system that is both ecologically friendly and easy to install then you should strongly consider steel guttering. Steel guttering is fully coated on both the inside and outside by a strengthened magnesium zinc alloy that has excellent anti erosion properties. There is also an additional top coat which provides a scratch resistant finish, something that is worthy of consideration if you are in a coastal environment.
Steel Guttering Pros and Cons
- Steel guttering is very durable and should not dent under usual conditions
- This product will not crack when exposed to heat
- Seamless runs are available which are less likely to leak.
- Steel guttering can be painted in whatever colour you choose.
- These gutters should last for at least 20 years
- Steel guttering will expand and contract when exposed to extreme cold and heat
- Additional regular maintenance is required
- Higher initial purchase costs
- Available in a smaller range of styles and colours
- Can be susceptible to rust if not regularly maintained
- Plastic guttering can be more expensive, and more difficult to install
- Less widely available than other different types of guttering
Aluminium guttering is a popular choice due to its low strength and relatively high strength. Additionally, it is also fully weatherproof and highly durable. Because of these properties it will maintain optimal performance over its lifetime providing excellent value for money. It can also be very appealing visually and can be purchased in a wide range of colours.
Aluminium Guttering Pros and Cons
- Aluminium guttering is very strong and durable and should withstand most weather conditions
- This product is totally corrosion resistant, no issues about rust, ever !
- Minimal maintenance is required
- Available in numerous styles and colours
- Approximately 65 percent lighter than comparable products constructed in steel or iron
- Ecologically friendly compared to uPVC
- More expensive than some alternatives
- Aluminium guttering may crack or split when exposed to quick, extreme temperature changes
- Can be susceptible to leaks around joints
- Aluminium can be very easily dented
Cast Iron Guttering
If correctly installed cast iron guttering can last over one hundred years, it provides a long life, low maintenance option and is also one hundred percent recyclable making it an excellent ecologically friendly choice.
Cast Iron Guttering Pros and Cons
- Cast iron guttering is excellent at handling temperature changes
- This product is almost impervious to UV light exposure damage
- Totally recyclable
- Traditionally created iron guttering is extremely heavy and can damage walls if they are not strong enough to support the guttering
- Very difficult to install due to its weight
- Will rust over time, which can cause leaks through loose joints and holes
- Cast Iron guttering can bend or distort under pressure
If you are looking for a stylish finish to your property’s guttering then copper guttering could be your answer. Copper will adjust to the environment and develop an attractive patina and ensure durability and resistance to corrosion in all but the most extreme weather conditions. Moreover, the inherent qualities of copper minimise the growth of lichen and moss which in turn reduce the need for additional cleaning and maintenance.
Copper Guttering Pros and Cons
- Copper guttering will last for many years as it can withstand all elements, snow, ice and heat
- Very efficient as should never need replacing
- More aesthetically pleasing than other different types of guttering
- No sagging if correctly installed
- This product requires minimal maintenance apart from cleaning regularly
- Copper guttering can cost many times more than alternative materials
- Requires a complex installation and is far more labour intensive, this is not an easy installation for the average DIY enthusiast
When considering the most suitable profile it comes down to one of four choices, each of which have their own qualities, this and their other properties are detailed below. Some are designed purely for efficiency whilst others have been designed with slightly more focus on replication traditional styles, or creating a contemporary look.
If your roof is a standard size and not particularly large or steep, then half round or box guttering will work just fine. If your roof pitch is steeper than normal or if you have a larger property then you may wish to consider either deep flow or ogee which both have larger flow capacities and can subsequently deal with a greater amount of rainwater.
Half Round Gutters
Half round guttering is probably one of the most popular guttering profiles that is available. This design is as simplistic as the name suggests, a half round gutter is a half cylinder, with the open side facing skywards. This profile is ideally suited to both traditional and more contemporary properties due to the fact that they provide a simple, uniform profile with smooth curves. This helps the rainwater to run more smoothly down and into the middle of the gutter channel and away from your property. When considering a downpipe, a half round gutter looks much better with a circular downpipe.
Pros and Cons of a Half Round Gutter Profile
- There are no angles in these gutter channels allowing a smooth run through of water, debris should not get caught up and clog the gutters
- This profile is a lot easier to clean than more complicated designs
- This profile has a very attractive look, especially when fitted to newer properties
- With the exception of uPVC this profile is usually heavier than other different types of guttering
- This design can be more expensive
- Water channelling capacities are significantly lower than other profiles
- This profile does come with some installation difficulties and dedicated fixtures are required
This is certainly the most uniquely named guttering profile, this name originates from a design of guttering that was popular in the Victorian era and was referred to as ‘Old Gothic’, this was abbreviated to ‘OG’ and the rest is obvious!! This design contains several curves in it’s profile and therefore, is sometimes described as an S curve. Because this gutter profile has been designed to replicate the gutters from the Victorian era this profile is ideally suited to period and traditional buildings, but it can also be used to add an air of tradition to more modern properties. When considering a downpipe an ogee gutter can be paired with either a square or circular downpipe.
Pros and Cons of an Ogee Gutter Profile
- This profile holds considerably more water than other guttering profiles
- One of the most attractive gutter designs available
- Available in many materials
- Ogee gutters can be easier to install than other profiles, installation cases should be less
- Minimal maintenance required
- Also available as a seamless option
- This profile can be considerably more difficult to clean than square or half round gutters
The deep style gutters are specifically designed for areas that have a higher than average level of rainfall. These are extremely similar to half round gutters but have a deeper channel, enabling more water to be held within the guttering system itself. This design comes into its own when looking at either domestic buildings in high rainfall areas or when considering guttering for properties with a large roof area. When considering a downpipe a deep gutter looks much better with a circular downpipe.
Pros and Cons of a Deep Gutter Profile
- This profile is capable of handling very high water volumes, this makes them ideal for properties in areas of heavy rainfall
- Deep gutters can be manufactured in several types of material
- The larger size of this profile can make installation quite challenging, with a corresponding increase in installation costs
This particular style of guttering profile is also often referred to as a trough gutter or square gutter. Their design is extremely simple, and as the name suggests, just a three sided rectangular channel. Because of this angular, straighter and slightly harder design they are ideal when considering guttering solutions for projects that already contain angular features, for example, contemporary styled apartments and buildings. The design of a box gutter means that they have the largest capacity of all the different types of guttering available and can therefore be used in areas of high rainfall, or with large roof areas with no issues whatsoever. When considering a downpipe an ogee gutter can be paired with either a square or circular downpipe.
Pros and Cons of a Box Gutter Profile
- These tend to be quite durable and relatively easy to maintain and repair. If correctly cared for they should last well
- The appearance of box gutters allows them to blend well into most homes as they are designed to fit into the bottom section of the eaves or roof
- Some box gutters are constructed with a wooden base, which is then lined metal. Over time this wood may warp and affect the structural integrity, and performance of the guttering
- Because these gutters are usually manufactured from coated steel they require painting upon installation and every few years thereafter
If you have got to this point then you should now be extremely well informed about the different types of guttering available and also be in a better position to know exactly what you need to purchase to repair or renovate your existing guttering system. You will be fully aware of the importance attached to the previously unknown profiles and materials used in guttering and should be able to make a well informed decision.
With this newfound knowledge you will now be more aware of the role that a previously ignored piece of plastic, or metal pipe can play in maintaining the structural integrity of your property as well as the aesthetic improvements it can provide. It is admittedly very difficult to become passionate about guttering systems but hopefully you will have a newfound respect for this essential, yet highly underrated component of your property.