Plastic Versus Metal Guttering

If we were back in the early 2000’s then you’d have got the complete opposite answer to this question: Is plastic or metal guttering best?

The few metal systems around were limited and expensive whilst plastic gutters were booming in popularity. But now? It has all flipped on its head.

Nowadays, any sensible person would seriously consider metal guttering as the route to choose so you’ve come to the right place to learn why.

Guttering plays an essential role on every house or building in protecting them from rainwater damage. Gutter systems work by draining water away from the roof and to a central drainage system so any weakness or leaks can cause big problems. Guttering is primarily manufactured using either plastic or metal. So, which material should you choose?

There are five factors to consider when choosing the best gutter type for your project. In this guide, we will look at the differences between aluminium and plastic guttering to help you decide.

We will compare:

  1. Cost
  2. Strength & Lifespan
  3. Installation
  4. Appearance
  5. Sustainability

Plastic versus Metal Guttering Comparison

Looking for a quick answer? Here’s a summarised comparison of Plastic v Aluminium Guttering:

Plastic Metal
Est Lifespan 5-10 Years 60 Years
Strength Low High
Initial Cost Low Medium
Repair/Maintenance Cost High Low
Design Traditional Hidden Brackets & Unions
Sustainability Limited Recyclability Infinitely Recyclable
Colour Options Black, White & Grey Only Standard Colours plus any RAL Colour

 

It is easy to see from the table above why a metal aluminium gutter system is the route to take but let’s discuss it in further detail.

The top brand of metal guttering currently available is the Aluflow guttering system, with its patented design and ease of installation. Check this range out if you want to fast forward to pricing your project up.

Cost

When installing gutters on a house it is something you want to fit and forget. Having to fork out money for gutter repairs is a common complaint among homeowners. To avoid gutter repairs, choose aluminium guttering.

The issue with plastic guttering is although it is cheaper initially, over time PVC guttering becomes brittle and fades which leads to leaks and cracks. Dark colours, like brown, grey or black guttering, are the most susceptible to discolouration but are ironically the most popular colours!

On the other hand, when you weigh up the cost of a metal guttering over its lifespan you can soon find will save you significant money. Top quality metal systems like aluminium gutters can last up to 60 years – 6x to 10x longer than plastic.

As you would expect, aluminium is slightly more expensive than a PVC gutter but not as much as you may expect. A two-metre length of plastic guttering costs an average of £8.50 versus £11.28 for aluminium guttering. Only a difference of only £2.78 per length. A tiny amount when considering the lifespan difference!

Remember that the most expensive part of new gutters is the installation. In fact, around 60% of the total cost will be the installation rather than the materials. Particularly when using trades and scaffolding.

Aluminium guttering is the lowest-cost metal gutter type you can buy. Traditional materials such as cast iron and copper are expensive to purchase and costly to maintain.

To work out your project cost simply build a quote with the products or use our Gutter Calculator.

Strength & Lifespan

Aluminium is a highly durable and extremely robust gutter material. Aluminium is commonly used for manufacturing parts such as car bodies and aeroplanes due to its durability.

If it’s good enough for a car body, then even better for guttering! This is why it is an excellent choice as aluminium guttering has an estimated lifespan of 60 years compared to PVC of 5-10 years.

If you buy cheap you tend to buy twice. 😬

PVC plastic has a shorter life span because is vulnerable to damage from UV rays and becomes brittle over time. This short lifespan is also exacerbated in harsh weather conditions such as frost, snow or heavy rain. Only one snowfall can prove too much for plastic gutter brackets.

Choose Aluflow Aluminium Gutter for strength

With the main purpose of guttering to protect your home, you want to ensure you are picking a gutter that is going to be strong enough to withstand poor weather conditions. Plus, provides reliable performance for many years to come.

IMPORTANT: Not all metal guttering has the same durability. Options such as steel and cast iron are very prone to rusting so always choose a non-ferrous metal like aluminium. Examples of ferrous types include Lindab guttering.

There is no doubt that metal gutters have incredible strength compared to PVC. As the best type of metal, aluminium guttering is the most durable and top material to use.

Installation

Both plastic and metal gutters are easy to install, using not dissimilar fitting methods, however, metal looks a lot smarter once complete.

UPVC Gutters feature ugly gutter clips which are unsightly and can also snap during installation if care is not taken. On the other hand, modern metal systems incorporate hidden gutter brackets and unions to create a completely unobstructed front face.

Metal Gutter brackets make installation faster with a simple Rock N Lock® fitting which the raingutter lengths clip into.

Overall, either system is easy enough for a DIYer to fit if they wish. The main difference is the appearance once finished and the process used.

Appearance

If you’re looking for a classy appearance for your gutters, then metal guttering is the choice for you. Modern metal systems feature hidden gutter brackets and hidden unions to create an incredible style. Say goodbye to ugly plastic gutter brackets.

These concealed brackets and unions are a gamechanger for keeping the front face of the guttering looking seamless. What’s more, they create a very modern look and strong kerb appeal.

Hidden Gutter Brackets

Black guttering tends to be the most popular colour choice for homeowners and is available in PVC or Aluminium. However, the best colour for your roof does depend on your house’s colour scheme. White and grey are also available in both materials.

However, if you are looking to up your game with your home project then bespoke colours are available for aluminium guttering only. These can really improve the aesthetics and create a lovely finish.

There are endless bespoke colour options available, from Signal Red to Pearl Night Blue.

Sustainability

Metal guttering is more sustainable than plastic guttering, so long as you choose a non-ferrous metal like aluminium, because it can be recycled infinitely and has a much greater lifespan.

Plastic gutters have a very limited lifespan which means more frequent replacements and greater waste. At the end of its useful life, a PVC gutter needs to be in good condition to recycle – then even if it is recycled it loses a lot of the original material in the process.

IMPORTANT: When discussing metal guttering sustainability, we are referring only to non-ferrous types, like aluminium guttering. This is because cast iron and steel guttering can be too rusted to recycle.

Aluminium guttering on the other hand has an excellent life span and once installed it’s there to stay. A significantly longer life span means less waste going into the environment and less gutter repairs.

Another great factor is that aluminium is an abundant material and is infinitely recyclable. Meaning it can be recycled fully without losing any of the original material.

Is plastic or metal guttering best?

When comparing plastic and metal guttering, it is clear that installing a metal gutter system is the best option. Primarily, due to its cost effectiveness, lifespan and superior appearance.

Aluminium guttering is the most popular metal guttering choice, and it is easy to see why. It is robust, weather-resistant, and affordable.

Plastic guttering is fine for budget projects however this does not have any of the strong benefits that aluminium guttering has.

What’s more, metal guttering looks spectacular. The clean design of aluminium guttering is very versatile for a range of project styles, both modern and contemporary. On the other hand, plastic doesn’t look as great and will start to go brittle and crack over time.

Once installed, aluminium guttering is there to stay with an excellent expected lifespan. With no rust risk, only a small amount of maintenance is required on an aluminium system once in place. PVC does have the disadvantage of a lower life span (around half of aluminium) however for a budget project this will still be adequate and do the job.

Additionally, the strength of an aluminium gutter makes it one of the most durable options around. As a lightweight metal, it can withstand a heavy downpour.

You can see why aluminium is the clear winner when choosing guttering for your project!

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