Copper gutters offer a unique blend of functionality and aesthetics. Their durability and elegance make them a popular choice among homeowners who aren’t afraid to pay a premium price. Installing copper gutters is a smart way to divert water flow from your home, safeguarding it against leaks, rot, and foundation erosion. We looked into the pros and cons of copper gutters to help you understand what makes the eye-catching material stand out and whether it is right for your new gutter installation.
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What Are Copper Gutters?
Rain gutters catch and direct water away from your roof, walls, and siding, preventing mold, rot, and leaks. Copper gutters are rising in popularity, comprising durable and corrosion-resistant copper metal.
Copper 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 Copper Gutters
Seamed copper gutters, also known as sectional or soldered gutters, are less reliable than seamless gutters. Professionals install these traditional gutters in sections, joining the seams with welds, soldering, and sealant.
Seamed systems are less expensive and more prone to leaks and clogs than seamless gutters.
Seamless Copper Gutters
Seamless copper gutters are more durable than seamed gutters. Professional installers custom-fabricate continuous copper gutters sized to fit the length of your home.
Seamless systems are less prone to leaks and clogs and are more visually appealing.
Pros of Copper Gutters
It is easy to see why copper gutters are a popular choice amongst homeowners. They are durable, low-maintenance, and eye-catching.
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Copper is the 25th most common element in the Earth’s crust and is 30% heavier than aluminum. It is a strong metal, making it incredibly durable. Properly maintained copper gutters have a lifespan of 50 years or more.
Copper is malleable and corrosion-resistant, and the gutters are less susceptible to rust in coastal areas than aluminum gutter systems.
Copper gutter systems require very little maintenance outside of annual gutter cleanings. Unlike painted materials that require refinishing, copper requires minimal upkeep. The metal releases ions during interactions with water that act as a natural algaecide and fungicide, preventing organic growth like moss, mold, and algae inside your gutters and lowering your overall maintenance needs.
The shiny bronze metal offers an eye-catching aesthetic to your home’s exterior that works with a variety of styles from historic homes to modern dwellings. Copper gutters increase curb appeal and the value of your home, matching a variety of construction materials and textures like clay, stone, wood, and brick.
Copper’s strength makes it an ideal choice for gutters. The metal is corrosion and rust-resistant and durable, resisting dents from organic debris and hail. Because of its strength, copper withstands extreme weather conditions, strong winds, and heavy snow and ice loads without bending or warping.
High Thermal Resistance
Exposing metals like copper 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.
Copper has a 35% lower thermal expansion coefficient than aluminum. Copper gutters expand and contract to a lesser degree when exposed to consistently shifting and extreme temperatures. These systems withstand expansion and contraction better than other materials, increasing their lifespan.
Cons of Copper Gutters
Copper gutter systems are weather-resistant and durable. While the high-end material is beautiful, it is not without its downsides.
High-end copper gutters are the most expensive option on the market, costing twice as much as aluminum gutters. These systems are durable and rust-resistant but heavy, increasing their installation and labor costs.
Difficult to Install
Like stainless steel gutter systems, copper gutters are more difficult to install. They require specialized labor and materials, and not all gutter professionals can install copper systems. It can be difficult to find an experienced installer in many areas to complete the time-intensive installation process.
Because of the heavy materials and specialized equipment requirements, copper gutter installation is not a DIY home improvement project. The weight of the materials requires important safety considerations while joining and cutting gutter sections requires specialized saws, blades, and welding equipment.
Copper and other metals react with the environment. Over time, a thin layer, patina, forms on the surface of copper because of natural oxidation and chemical reactions, resulting from exposure to air, moisture, and other elements. Many homeowners appreciate the natural patina process which changes over time from golden-brown to a medium earthy brown before eventually turning green around the 5- to 20-year mark, depending on your climate.
However, some homeowners wish to prolong the occurrence of the natural process. Professionals apply a protective coating to copper gutter systems to slow the development of the patina. However, the finish cracks and fades with exposure. Coated copper gutters require refinishing every two to four years.
Galvanic reactions cause rust and corrosion. Most metals undergo galvanic reactions when near dissimilar metals. Both aluminum and copper gutter systems undergo these reactions. Thankfully, there are steps installers take to minimize the occurrence.
Professional installers use copper hangers, fittings, and solders to install your gutter system. It is also important to consider your roofing material when selecting gutter materials. Metal roofs are more likely to have a galvanic reaction to copper gutters than other roofing materials like asphalt shingles, slate, or clay.
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How Much Do Copper Gutters Cost?
Copper gutters offer high-end aesthetics and durability for a premium price. Copper gutter installation costs an average of $3,000 to $10,000, 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 Copper Gutters
|$20 – $40
|$3,000 – $8,000
|Seamless Copper Gutters
|$25 – $50
|$3,750 – $10,000
FAQ About Copper Gutters
New copper gutters will begin to patina, or oxidize, between the 5- and 20-year marks. High temperature increases the rate of the chemical reaction process, resulting in a green hue more quickly.
No. Copper is more dense than aluminum. The durable metal gutters resist denting from organic debris, hail, and ladders.
Standard copper gutters range between 16- to 24–gauge. 20-gauge copper gutters are the most popular choice. However, experts advise installing thicker, 16-gauge copper gutters in areas with heavy snowfall and ice accumulation.
Ready for Copper Gutters?
Be sure to consider the average annual rainfall in your area when deciding the type and size of copper 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 copper rain gutters or want to explore different options, contact a local MyGutterGnome pro to learn about the process and materials.