Guttering is a crucial part of the roofline of your home. It’s made up of a series of downpipes and troughs (the gutters) that move rainwater away from your property. In the UK, most guttering is made from uPVC these days, but you can also get copper, aluminium or cast iron to name a few.
Your guttering needs to be kept in good condition to prevent rainwater from damaging your home. If your guttering falls into disrepair, water could damage your property’s foundations, potentially causing subsidence or other structural issues. It could also erode the landscaping or turf in your garden, which could set you back hundreds to thousands of pounds.
From a cosmetic point of view, if your gutters are dripping rainwater down the side of your building, you could end up with staining on the brick or masonry work. That’s the least of your worries, but it’s still an annoying one.
Types of guttering
uPVC is by far the most popular choice for guttering among UK homeowners. Also known as unplasticised polyvinyl chloride, it’s used for window and conservatory frames too. It’s a hardwearing material that won’t require much maintenance, other than keeping the gutters and downpipes free from debris and perhaps the occasional clean.
Since it’s very easy to install, it won’t break the bank if you ask an installer to fit it for you. However, competent DIYers might want to try it themselves if they have the right equipment to keep them safe. Expect to pay around £7.50 per metre of guttering, plus installation.
Copper guttering looks stunning compared with uPVC. Its shiny appearance and durability makes it ideal for both period and high-modern homes. Copper guttering could last over 100 years; once it’s been installed around 15 years, a lining called verdigris patina will form which helps protect it from the elements and rust. It’s green in colour and lots of people love this look.
Once you’ve had your copper guttering installed, you won’t have to do much maintenance – perhaps even less than with uPVC guttering as the patina that forms prevents algae and fungi growth, so you won’t get as many blockages.
Aluminium is another great material for guttering and is usually slightly cheaper than copper. It’s hard-wearing and weather resistant which is ideal for something that’s constantly exposed to the elements. It won’t rust over time and usually doesn’t require joints, so is less likely to leak as it gets older. Plus, it expands and contracts in different temperatures seamlessly, so won’t become brittle like uPVC.
Since aluminium doesn’t require joints, it usually takes two people to install purely for practical reasons. That means labour costs will be higher; you can expect to pay between £20-50 per metre of half round aluminium guttering, including installation.
Cast iron might be the most eco-friendly material for your guttering. Cast iron guttering is being constructed out of more and more recycled materials, reducing its carbon footprint. It’s an ideal material to use if you live in a period home as they have a classic look and have been used on properties since the 15th century.
Cast iron is extremely strong, robust and durable and could last over 100 years. It will require very little maintenance when installed, so other than periodic painting and ensure the guttering is clear of leaves and debris, you won’t need to look after them much.
Will replacing my guttering save me money?
While replacing your guttering won’t directly save you money, it could prevent you from having to spend money on expensive repairs in the future. If leaking gutters cause excessive rainwater to affect your property’s foundations, this could set you back thousands – and if you knew your guttering was leaking, your home insurance might not even cover it.