Luxury Rain Gutters: Copper Gutters Become a Must-Have for High-End Homes
Most people think of rain gutters as a purely function part of their home, not as a decorative element that’s meant to be noticed. But the past decade has seen the emergence of a booming market in high-end gutters for luxury homes.
These aren’t your father’s rain gutters. From copper half-rounds to Japanese-style rain chains, the new category of products transform rain gutters into works of art.
Copper gutters are the heart of this new upscale rain gutter market, since copper trim can give a house a rich, luxurious appearance.
Combined with ornate downspouts, hangers, leader heads and even ornamental spires, copper gutter systems can be quite elaborate. Indeed, in the hands of a skilled installed, they can look like a piece of sculpture framing a house.
“When you see a home with copper gutters, it makes an impression on you,” says Sock Witherspoon of GutterSupply.com. “When you see a neighbor with them, you want to know more.”
Copper gutters are especially popular for luxury French Manor and Tuscan-style homes.
Copper is more expensive than the aluminum traditionally used in rain gutters, which is why copper gutters have so far been limited to the luxury home market.
“Our installed price for an aluminum gutter is about $2.50 to $3 per foot, compared to $18 to $20 for copper half-round gutters,” says Richard Green, president of Retro Design Inc., Murray, Utah, a manufacturer and distributor of roofing and gutter products.
This higher price is partly due to increase labor cost, since copper gutters require special installation skills. Installers need to wear gloves to prevent their skin from touching the copper. Skin contact will cause the gutters to discolor over time.
Yet despite their higher price, copper gutter sales are up 35% over the past three years alone.
Witherspoon estimates that upscale rain gutters make up only about 10% of the rain gutter market, but it’s the fastest-growing market segment. Market share will also grow as manufacturers roll out more products for mid-market homes.
For example, you can now buy aluminum half-round gutters in Copper Penny Aluminum, a painted aluminum material that simulates the look of real copper. The material costs about $5.50 per foot, less than a third the cost of pure copper.
“That’s a great option for people who want that upscale look without the price,” says Witherspoon.
Painted aluminum won’t age the same way as real copper, which develops a greenish-bronze patina over time. Then again, some homeowners specifically treat their copper gutters to prevent aging and keep that bright copper look over the years.
With growing demand and more affordable products like this, luxury gutters just might become the new standard for homes.