Gutter systems are an essential part of any home, built to protect your house’s foundation and avoid damage to your property. Choosing the right metal for your gutter system can be tricky for some homeowners. Gutter system materials most commonly come down to two popular choices: aluminum rain gutters or copper gutters, each with its advantages and disadvantages.
Your decision might depend on several factors, including your budget, the design of your property, etc. This article will help evaluate the pros and cons of choosing copper gutters compared to aluminum for your home, to help you make an informed decision that’s right for you.
Pros and Cons of Custom Copper Gutters vs. Aluminum Rain Gutters
There are many advantages to choosing copper for your home gutter system, as well as disadvantages. One of the critical points that homeowners consider is the high price of using copper versus aluminum. Copper gutter systems are usually costly to install compared to aluminum systems, costing between $18 to $26 per foot. Also, copper gutters are more challenging to install than aluminum, so the cost of hiring gutter builders versus going the DIY route adds to the high price.
However, although there will be a higher initial investment, one of the most significant upsides to choosing copper gutters is that they are incredibly durable, with an increased lifespan of up to 60 to 100 years with some maintenance. Copper has a strong corrosion resistance, meaning it is unlikely to deteriorate majorly in any weather; aluminum gutters require much more care for a shorter lifespan, which is why they’re so cheap to install.
Because of this, although copper may be more expensive to install initially, your return on investment throughout the years will be higher while your maintenance costs will be lower.
Lastly, many homeowners prefer to use copper gutters due to their attractive appearance compared to aluminum. Although copper starts with a brown or golden glow, it is known to age over time into a sophisticated green patina, like pennies or the Statue of Liberty. This is a trendy look amongst homeowners; some even choose to pay extra to speed up the oxidation process immediately instead of having it happen throughout the years.
Copper Gutter Pros:
- Extremely durable
- Low maintenance
- Higher lifespan
- Attractive, elegant design
Aluminum Gutter Pros:
- Cheap installation
- A common choice amongst homeowners
- Easy to install
Copper Gutter Cons:
- Costly installation
- Almost always requires a professional installer
Aluminum Gutter Cons:
- Not as durable
- Higher maintenance
- Lower lifespan
- Less attractive finish
Parts of a Complete Seamless Copper Rain Gutter System
Like any gutter system, Copper gutters have specific anatomy that is important to be familiar with to make a wise choice when choosing the right material to work with. Let’s review the critical parts of a gutter system:
- Seamless Gutter: This tray-shaped piece hangs on the roof and catches the runoff water. It is run out of a machine in it’s full length to eliminate any possibility of leakage. This also ensures longevity.
- Drop outlet: This connects the gutter to the downspout.
- Custom Miters
- Downspout: a vertical pipe that guides water and snow safely away from your home.
- Elbow: a bent pipe soldered to the end or top of the downspout to direct the drainage flow.
- Splash block: The piece that sits on the ground and diverts runoff from the home.
Types of Standard Copper Gutter Profiles
There are a couple of different profiles that you can choose for your gutter system, varying in cost, function, and dramatic attractiveness.
Half-round gutters resemble a tube cut in half. This gutter style usually provokes leaf and debris clogging, which is why it is generally necessary to install leaf guards and additional gutter parts to keep them in place. Half-round gutters are a traditional style but not the most practical or aesthetically pleasing.
As its name indicates, K-style gutters somewhat resemble the letter K when viewed from the side. This is the most common type of gutter style used in homes across the U.S. K-style channels usually come in 5 to 6-inch widths and carry more water than half-round gutters. They’re also quite aesthetically pleasing compared to other gutter systems, with a crown molded frontside.
Lastly, the style of your copper gutter system can vary depending on if you want round, square, or rectangular tubes for your downspouts. Most homeowners have rectangular downspouts for practicality. Downspouts can range from 3 to 6 inches, with the bigger sizes being able to drain more water faster and the smaller sizes having a more attractive look for your home.
Bottom Line: Are Copper Gutters the Right Choice for your Home?
All in all, copper is a bold design statement that provides an elegant look for the modern home, an attractive option for those willing and able to put in the high initial investment for lifelong durability. The curb appeal with the copper gutter is unmatched. If your budget can afford to get copper gutters installed, you can look forward to low maintenance for decades on end, something that isn’t quite as applicable to aluminum gutters.
Bottom line: if you prefer a more straightforward and cheaper installation over long-term return on investment and good looks, aluminum gutters are a safe choice for you. However, if you find more value in a great-looking finish and high durability, copper is the way to go.