There are a wide variety of metals available on the market today but not every gutter machine can accommodate every metal that exists. Understanding the metals that you can use in your company’s gutter machine will help you make better decisions about what to buy. The most common metals used in portable and stationary gutter machines are aluminum, copper, and galvanized steel.
Aluminum is the lightest and most flexible of all the gutter metals in existence today, and this means that you can put aluminum through just about every single gutter machine on the market, whether you’ve chosen a 5” half-round or a 7” K-style gutter machine.
Aluminum is an incredibly versatile metal that offers your clients the best in terms of affordability, durability, and corrosion/rust resistance. Though it is more easily damaged than other materials like copper or galvanized steel, it can withstand the elements in most parts of the country very well and last for decades when well maintained. Bulk-purchased aluminum can provide you with a fantastic ROI, even when you pass the cost savings down to your individual clients. .032” aluminum is the recommended thickness in areas with snow and freezing temperatures where .027” coil stock is standard in areas below the snow belt.
Copper is an extremely malleable metal that forms well and is also one of the heaviest gutter materials being used today. In fact, it is even growing in popularity with non-historic homes which helps the bulk manufacturing of accessories to expand. Most all of the seamless gutter machines on the market can produce copper gutters.
Copper is incredibly durable and puts both aluminum and galvanized steel to shame in its ability to withstand the elements, corrosion, rust, and more. It is important to note that copper costs significantly more than either of the other materials for these reasons, too. But in the long run, when you consider the lifetime costs, copper is by far the least expensive gutter installation available.
Typically, seamless gutters are manufactured with either 16 oz. copper or 20 oz. copper. 16 oz. copper is used all over the country including in the freezing snow and ice areas in the north. 20 oz. copper, which is 25% thicker is a great choice when installed on large steep roofs in snow country where it can better withstand the elements.
Galvanized Steel is more popular among industrial and commercial clientele, but it is not completely lost on residential clients. This metal is made from steel dipped into a hot solution containing zinc that prevents corrosion and rust for many years to come. You can buy the material to make the gutters on-site, and you can buy various accessories designed to complement your installation, as well, including elbows, downspouts, and miters.
Galvanized steel is much stronger than aluminum and copper but will rust over time. Whereas aluminum gutters may look new for a couple of decades if perfectly maintained, galvanized steel can easily last twice this long – if not longer.
While most gutter machines are capable of roll forming galvanized gutters there are very few contractors running this material. There are very few suppliers who sell galvanized coil stock. And since the galvanized metal goes through an acid bath during the manufacturing process it will leave a residue on the rollers which will require the user to clean the rollers of the machine before running a different material.
Galvalume is yet another excellent choice for gutters. The term “Galvalume” refers to the metal coating, which is made from a combination of silicon, aluminum, and zinc. Much like galvanizing steel, this zinc-infused coating is designed to provide the metal underneath – steel – with properties it would not otherwise have. In this case, the Galvalume coating protects the steel from oxidation, which causes the metal to break down over time. For this reason, Galvalume gutters tend to last much, much longer than their standard steel counterparts.
Deciding which metals to put through your gutter machine does not have to be tricky, especially if you choose a machine that can adjust to accommodate multiple different types of materials. It’s important to consider the desired aesthetic as well as the properties of the metals to determine the best choice for each application.