The Pros and Cons of Steel Gutters

A steel gutter installed on roof of house

Steel gutters are among the most popular types of gutters. They’re durable and can maintain their shape and shine for a long time. But they’re not perfect. Understanding the pros and cons of steel gutters is vital to getting the most out of them.

Types of Steel Gutters

There are two different types of steel gutters: stainless and galvanized. Stainless steel gutters are made with chromium to protect them from rust and corrosion. Galvanized steel gutters are coated with a layer of zinc to achieve the same result.

Stainless steel gutters are more aesthetically pleasing than galvanized steel but are more expensive overall. Meanwhile, galvanized steel gutters aren’t as corrosion-resistant as stainless steel gutters but hold up better against water and chlorine.

Pros of Steel Gutters

metal round gutters
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  • Durability: Steel gutters are difficult to dent so they hold up well from collisions with falling debris and heavy wind. They also don’t expand and contract with temperature extremes like gutters made from thinner or more pliable material.
  • Paintable: Not only does painting your gutters increase your home’s curb appeal, but it also adds an extra layer of protection from rust and dents.
  • Reasonably affordable: Galvanized steel gutters are less expensive than aluminum gutters (although stainless steel gutters are more expensive) but more expensive than vinyl gutters. See the “Cost of Steel Gutters” section below for more information.
  • Versatile installation: Steel gutters can be installed in two ways: sectional and seamless.
    • Sectional: As the name implies, sectional gutters are installed in sections. This method is more affordable, but any gutters installed this way are more likely to separate, causing leaks.
    • Seamless: Seamless gutters are manufactured from a single piece of material, meaning they don’t require joints or seams, and are thus longer-lasting and more durable. They are customized on-site to fit perfectly onto your home.

Cons of Steel Gutters

  • Tendency to rust: Unlike its stainless steel counterparts, galvanized steel gutters aren’t very rust-resistant. The zinc coating on galvanized steel gutters doesn’t last forever, and they start rusting after 10 years. You’ll need to conduct regular maintenance and add a protective coating to help it last.
  • Sagging: Because they are loosely connected with the house, steel gutters can sag over time. If they keep sagging, you might have to replace your entire gutter system. Have someone inspect your gutters periodically to avoid costly repairs.
  • Require professional installation: Steel gutters are heavy and inflexible, making installing them more time-consuming, so hiring a professional is recommended.
  • Can’t be welded or cut: If you weld or cut individual gutter sections, you risk destroying their protective coating.
  • Struggle with salt: As durable as steel gutters might be, they can degrade in salty coastal environments.

Cost of Steel Gutters

On average, expect to pay between $4 and $25 per linear foot to install steel gutters. This makes them more expensive than vinyl gutters but less expensive than copper gutters. Galvanized steel gutters are cheaper than aluminum gutters, but stainless steel gutters are more expensive.

Installation costs vary depending on the number of downspouts, gutter guards, end caps, and hangers your home has.

Alternatives to Steel

A steel gutter installed on roof of house
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Steel gutters are a great addition to your house, but they are just one option. There are multiple styles and materials to choose from, each with pros and cons.

Aluminum Gutters

Aluminum gutters cost less than steel gutters (as aluminum is more common than steel) and have a similar lifespan (up to 20 years). They’re also lightweight and easier to install, making them a favorite among DIY homeowners and professional contractors.

However, aluminum gutters aren’t as durable as steel gutters. Extreme temperatures can cause them to contract and expand, which can put stress on the joints and create leaks. And because they are lightweight, aluminum gutters can get dinged and bent from contact with ladders and falling tree branches.

Vinyl Gutters

Vinyl gutters are made of PVC, so they don’t rust. They’re the cheapest, most lightweight, and easiest gutters to install, making them popular among homeowners.

However, vinyl gutters aren’t very durable, especially in hot, wet areas. Because they are lightweight, they can be easily damaged by strong winds and snow. Vinyl gutters are best suited for dry and mild areas.

Copper Gutters

If you want to add style to your home, copper gutters are worth looking into. They’re durable and low maintenance, lasting up to 50 years or longer. They don’t corrode under extreme weather conditions like other materials, making them particularly useful in areas with lots of snow and wind.

Copper gutters are more expensive than steel gutters and far more expensive than aluminum gutters. Additionally, copper gutter systems need to be tailor-made for your house, meaning you have to hire someone skilled at installing copper gutter systems.

FAQ About Steel Gutters

What are some signs you need new gutters?

The appearance of gaps, cracks, fractures, and standing or overflowing water could signal that your gutters need replacement. You should look out for sagging or rusted gutters as well.

How often should I clean my gutters?

Clean twice a year, once in spring and once in fall. Read our guide on how to clean your gutters in 5 steps for further details.

Why are gutters so important?

Rain gutters protect your home by diverting rainwater away from the structure.

Harder Than Steel

We mentioned that hiring a gutter pro is recommended. Luckily, MyGutterGnome’s pros are readily available for any gutter-related tasks you need to do, so hire one today to get a quote.

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Stuart Kushner

Stuart Kushner is a writer and aspiring product designer based in New York City. When he isn’t doing either, Stuart enjoys heavy metal music, exercise, and trying new food and drinks.