Aluminum gutters are the most popular choice among U.S. homeowners. They redirect water flow away from your home, protecting against leaks, rot, and foundation erosion. Aluminum gutters offer a range of benefits, from durability and affordability to easy installation and low maintenance needs. We looked into the pros and cons of aluminum gutters to help you understand what makes the material stand out and whether it is right for your new gutter installation.
What Are Aluminum Gutters?
Rain gutters catch water and direct it away from your roof, walls, and siding, preventing mold, rot, and leaks. Aluminum gutter systems are the most popular on the market, comprising malleable and lightweight aluminum metal.
Aluminum gutter systems include gutters, end caps, downspouts, elbows, hangers, fasteners, and optional gutter guards. There are two types of gutter systems: seamed and seamless.
Seamed Aluminum Gutters
Seamed aluminum gutters, also known as sectional gutters, are less reliable than seamless gutters. Professionals install these traditional gutters in sections, joining the seams with adhesive, caulk, soldering, or connectors.
Seamed systems are less expensive and more prone to leaks and clogs than seamless gutters.
Seamless Aluminum Gutters
Seamless aluminum gutters are more durable than seamed gutters. They comprise single gutters running the entire length of your home instead of small sections. These systems are less prone to leaks and clogs and are more visually appealing. However, they are more expensive than seamed gutters and require professional installation. Installers must cut your gutters to size on site.
Pros of Aluminum Gutters
It is easy to see why aluminum gutters are a popular choice amongst homeowners. They are durable, affordable, and versatile.
Easy to Install
Like PVC vinyl gutters, aluminum gutters are lightweight, making them easier to install than other materials. These systems require little specialized labor to install, and almost all gutter professionals can install aluminum gutters regardless of whether you choose a seamed or seamless system.
Thanks to the lightweight material, seamed aluminum gutters slide together, making an easy and affordable DIY option for the average homeowner.
Aluminum is one of the most affordable gutter options on the market, and the lightweight and easy installation reduces labor costs.
Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth’s crust. It is extremely lightweight but has a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it incredibly durable. Properly maintained aluminum gutters have a lifespan of 20 or more years.
Aluminum is malleable and corrosion-resistant. However, unlike stainless steel gutters, aluminum gutters are susceptible to rust in coastal areas. The high salt content and moisture exposure speed up the corrosion process.
Aluminum gutter brands and styles are abundant on the market. Aluminum offers increased curb appeal. The material is paintable and available in a variety of colors to match your home’s exterior, roof, or design aesthetic.
Cons of Aluminum Gutters
Aluminum gutter systems are lightweight and affordable. While the material is a durable choice, it is not without its downsides.
Low Thermal Resistance
Exposing metals like aluminum to the elements causes them to expand and contract with temperature changes, increasing the likelihood of leaks. Every metal has a thermal expansion coefficient, expressing the degree to which it expands and contracts under heating and cooling.
Aluminum’s thermal expansion coefficient is 35% higher than copper and 300% higher than steel. Aluminum gutters expand and contract to a greater degree when exposed to consistently shifting and extreme temperatures. These systems perform best in mild climates with little fluctuation in annual temperatures.
Aside from temperature fluctuations, aluminum gutters do not perform well in extreme weather conditions, like heavy rainfall, strong winds, and high snowfall. Their lightweight design makes them vulnerable to leaks and dents caused by heavy snow loads, ice accumulation, and hail.
Aluminum gutters warp under increased weight, pulling away from other sections, walls, or fascia boards, leading to leaks and potential water damage. While the metal is rust-resistant, constant exposure to salt air and moisture in coastal regions speeds up corrosion.
Aluminum gutter systems are affordable. However, unlike high-end, low-maintenance copper gutters, aluminum gutter systems require more maintenance. Experts recommend a professional gutter cleaning twice a year in the spring and fall to prevent rust and corrosion.
Additionally, most aluminum gutter systems are painted to match a home’s exterior or aesthetics. Paint provides a layer of protection while boosting curb appeal. Unfortunately, the finish cracks and fades with exposure. Painted aluminum gutters require a fresh coat every two to four years.
Many metals undergo galvanic reactions when near dissimilar metals. This reaction causes rust and corrosion. Both copper and aluminum gutters systems undergo galvanic reactions. However, there are steps installers take to minimize the occurrence.
Professional installers use aluminum hangers, fittings, and fasteners to install your gutter system. It is also important to take your roofing material into consideration when selecting gutter materials. Metal roofs are more likely to have a galvanic reaction to aluminum gutters than other roofing materials like asphalt shingles, slate, or clay.
How Much Do Aluminum Gutters Cost?
Aluminum gutters offer versatility and durability for an affordable price. Aluminum gutter installation costs an average of $750 to $4,000, depending on the type selected and the size of your home.
The average U.S. home requires 150 to 200 linear feet of gutters with two to three downspouts per installation.
|Cost Per Linear Foot|
*includes labor and materials
|National Average Cost With Labor|
|Seamed Aluminum Gutters||$5 – $15||$750 – $3,000|
|Seamless Aluminum Gutters||$8 – $20||$1,200 – $4,000|
FAQ About Aluminum Gutters
Aluminum is prone to damage from powerful storms with high winds and hail, and poor maintenance habits leave your home’s exterior shabby and battered. Watch for these signs it is time to replace your gutter system:
• Large gaps between sections
• Sagging gutters
• Cracks or broken seams
• Loose sections, fasteners, or hangers pulling away from fascia boards
• Peeling paint, faded finishes, or rust
• Mold or leaks
• Standing water on your lawn
Yes. Painting metal gutters is an easy DIY job for beginners who aren’t afraid of a ladder. It requires a few tools to get started, and you can expect to spend around $100 or more for materials, including brushes, scrapers, primer, and paint. Be sure to set aside around four days to complete the project.
Standard aluminum gutters are measured in thousandths of an inch and typically range between 0.019- to 0.032-gauge. 0.019- and 0.025-gauge aluminum gutters are the most popular choices found in local home improvement stores for DIY projects.
Gutter professionals typically install 0.027- or 0.032-gauge aluminum gutters for additional durability against the elements.
Ready for Aluminum Gutters?
Be sure to consider the average annual rainfall in your area when deciding the type and size of aluminum gutters for your home. A quality gutter system reduces your risk of leaks and potential water damage repair costs.
If you are in the market for new aluminum rain gutters or want to explore different options, contact a local MyGutterGnome pro to learn about the process and materials.