Gutters are fabricated using several materials in different styles, shapes and sizes. Gutters are commonly made from metal or vinyl but are available in a host of other materials.
Wood: These gutters were made post 19th century by shaping wood, but now are very rare, except for some restoration work.
Steel: Steel is a strong material that can easily bear the load of ladders or fallen branches. These gutters often rust and need painting frequently. Galvanized gutters have a coating of zinc that protect them from rusting but they are prone to rusting from standing water. Galvalume steel has a coating of zinc and aluminium which is highly durable due to its high corrosion resistance. It has almost ten times the life span of galvanized steel. Stainless-steel gutters are very strong and do not rust, but they are very expensive.
Aluminium: Aluminium is the most commonly used material due to its corrosion-resistance, lightweight properties, easy workability and low-cost.
Copper: Though copper gutters are a bit stronger than aluminium and also do not rust, they will not last as long. They have a high resistance to mildew which makes them easy to maintain. Copper is mostly used for classic restorations for more traditional homes. Copper gutters usually oxidize and become green over time but they can be protected with a coating of a sealant to retain their golden and shiny look.
Zinc: Zinc gutters are made with a zinc alloy containing 99.5 % zinc and a small percentage of titanium and copper. They do not require painting and develop a protective layer against weathering and corrosion. These gutters are very expensive and have almost double the life span of aluminium.
Vinyl: Vinyl gutters can be easily installed but are prone to damage by ladders and easily deteriorate with UV rays. Quality vinyl gutters remain flexible, can retain their colour, do not rust and are easy to repair. They have a higher resistance to dents compared to aluminium. You can also paint them to provide more of a variation to their look. However, these gutters are not suitable for hot sunny regions as they may warp, bow, crack and break apart under the harsh environmental conditions.
Gutter Styles and Shapes
The gutters are made in various styles/shapes also called profiles. The most common Styles are:
K Style Gutters: 5 inch K-style gutters are the most popular as they appear to have a decorative crown moulding. They don’t have a K shape, as this is just a type of classification. These gutters are also known as ogee gutters.
Fascia Gutters: Fascia gutters are usually installed where there are no fascia boards installed over the roof rafter tails. The fascia gutters also function as fascia boards and hide the edge of the rafter tails.
Half Round Gutters: This type of gutter is shaped in a half circle with the open side facing the roof. Half round gutters have almost half the depth of a K-5 gutter. Slight variations in the level or debris can cause them to overflow. They are provided with gutter hangers below them to hold them up.
Integral Gutter: These were popular with early homeowners in the 20th century and where used at the end of the rafters, as well as the fascia on sloped roofs. This gutter style was prone to leaks and damage to the framing.
Box Gutters: Some older homes, stores and factories still have box gutters. A box gutter was actually built into the bottom of the roof or into the roof overhang. These are used in some commercial applications.