Why don’t most contractors recommend vinyl gutters? While each type of gutter system has its pros and cons, the disadvantages of installing vinyl gutters far outweigh the benefits.
To help you pick the type of gutter system that’s most suited to your home, the gutter installation experts at Barry Best Seamless Gutters elaborate further on the pros and cons of vinyl gutters below.
Why DIYers on a Tight Budget Prefer Vinyl Gutters
Why are vinyl gutters popular among DIYers and homeowners on a tight budget? Well, vinyl gutters are:
Inexpensive – Vinyl gutters are quite cheap, with some selling for less than $3 a length.
Lightweight – Since vinyl is lightweight, the gutter hangers or the mounting structure don’t need to have significant load-bearing capacity.
Easy to install – Vinyl gutters are also easier to install because they’re made from a lightweight material. This makes them attractive to DIYers who often don’t have much experience with gutter installation.
- Low maintenance – Vinyl has minimal maintenance requirements. You don’t need to paint it or apply anti-rust coatings to prevent rust–the material is naturally rust-resistant.
The Disadvantages of Vinyl Gutters
While vinyl gutters aren’t all bad, they have some serious drawbacks that make most contractors reluctant to recommend them. These include:
Short lifespan – The durability of vinyl gutters depends on their thickness, but in general, vinyl gutters have short lifespans.
Susceptibility to extreme temperatures – Vinyl gutters’ susceptibility to extreme temperatures is part of the reason they have short lifespans. Vinyl gutters become brittle in sub-zero temperatures and may warp or sag in high temperatures.
Structural weakness – Vinyl, which is made from PVC plastic, can’t support heavy weight loads over a prolonged period, making vinyl gutters unsuitable for areas that frequently experience heavy rainfall. This weakness is compounded by the presence of seams, a major weak point of standard gutter systems. If the weight load becomes too heavy, the seams might start to pull apart, creating gutter leaks. This is also the reason why a lot of professional contractors recommend installing seamless gutters. If, however, you prefer installing a standard gutter system, we recommend choosing one made of metal. Manufacturers solder the joints of metal gutters to strengthen them.
To sum it up, vinyl gutters’ most attractive feature is their affordability. However, because of their short lifespan and poor durability, vinyl gutters aren’t cost-effective, which is also why most professional contractors don’t recommend them.
What Professional Contractors Recommend
If vinyl gutters aren’t a great choice, what are the other options contractors recommend? Here’s an overview of the common gutter types and their respective pros and cons:
- Aluminum gutters – If you’re on a tight budget, you’re better off installing aluminum gutters. Like vinyl gutters, aluminum gutters are relatively inexpensive, lightweight and resistant to rust. Aluminum is far more durable than vinyl, however. A potential problem with installing aluminum gutters is that they’re easily dented, so they’re not the best choice for areas that frequently experience hailstorms and other extreme weather events.
Steel gutters – Long-lasting steel gutters are more suitable for areas that frequently experience extreme weather events. There are two varieties two choose from: galvanized and stainless steel. Galvanized steel gutters can resist corrosion for 20 to 25 years, while stainless steel gutters don’t rust at all. One drawback is that steel gutters are slightly more expensive than aluminum gutters, but given their benefits, they’re well worth the cost.
Copper gutters – If you want a gutter system that can handle any climate, copper gutters are the best choice. In addition to their durability and long lifespan, copper gutters add Old-World elegance to your facade. The only issue with copper gutters is their hefty price tag, but given their exceptional lifespan, copper gutters arguably give the best value for your money.
The type of gutters you install isn’t the only factor that affects the system’s durability. Gutter accessories, while optional, can provide quite a few benefits. Here’s an overview of the gutter accessories contractors recommend:
Gutter heating systems – If you live in a cold climate, frozen gutters are a concern. For one thing, frozen gutters prevent water or thawing snow from being diverted to the downspouts, pushing moisture into the shingles, leading to roof damage. Not to mention, the added weight load can cause parts of your gutter system to sag.
You can prevent your gutters from freezing by installing heated gutter systems. These products feature heating cables installed near the edges of your roof that emit just enough heat to prevent precipitation from freezing in or around your gutters. To help reduce your electricity consumption, which usually spikes in winter, we recommend installing a self-regulating gutter heating system, like Helmet Heat®. Since Helmet Heat’s heating cables automatically respond to temperature changes, there’s no need to monitor the cables.
- Gutter guards – Even the most durable gutter system won’t be able to last long if it isn’t maintained regularly. The problem is most homeowners just don’t have the time to do a tedious but necessary chore like gutter cleaning. They usually have two options: hire a professional gutter cleaner or install gutter protection. The best product on the market is Gutter Helmet®, a completely autonomous gutter defense system that ensures you’ll never have to worry about gutter cleaning again.
Other Add-Ons to Consider
The primary function of your gutters is to divert water to the drains, away from your roof and foundation. However, they don’t provide sufficient rain protection for patios. One way of protecting your patio from ultraviolet (UV) and moisture damage is to install awnings, which can provide some much-needed shade on a hot summer day and protection from rain and snow during colder weather.
However, not all awnings can provide the same level of protection. For optimal protection against UV rays and rain, make sure your new awnings have UV-resistant and mildew-and-water-proof fabric.
For added convenience, consider installing retractable awnings. With just the push of a button, retractable awnings provide immediate shade or rain protection for your patio.
It’s Best to Leave Installation Work to the Professionals
When shopping for a gutter system and accessories or making any significant investment, always remember this piece of advice: Don’t get too preoccupied with the costs. Focus instead on the features that can give you value for your money. Cutting corners when it comes to the quality of the materials, as seen in the case of vinyl gutters, is rarely a good idea. The same goes for gutter and retractable awning installation: It’s best to avoid DIY work; instead, leave the installation of your new gutter system to experienced contractors.