Copper Gutters Buying Guide: Types, Alternatives and Installation Advice
Copper's unique reddish-orange hue has been a popular metal for roofing, flashing material and gutters for centuries. The material is time-tested and featured on some of the world’s most beautiful architectural masterpieces. Other than the classically beautiful look, a copper gutter system offers many benefits over traditional aluminum or vinyl gutters.
This guide will help you decide if a copper gutter system is the right choice for your home or business. We'll cover the types of copper gutters available, alternatives to copper gutters, and offer installation advice.
Benefits of Using Copper Gutters
Copper gutters provide several advantages over other materials, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking for a long-term investment. Not only are they corrosion-resistant and easy to install, but they also offer a unique style that can add curb appeal to any home.
Here are five benefits of using copper gutters:
- Corrosion-resistant - Copper is known for its ability to resist corrosion, making it an ideal material for gutters.
- Uniquely styled - Copper gutters can be found in various profiles and sizes to suit any home, adding a touch of uniqueness and curb appeal.
- Curb appeal - Copper gutters are uniquely beautiful due to the patina aging process that gives them their classic look.
- Long-lasting - Proper maintenance ensures copper gutters can last for decades, or even a century, making them a wise long-term investment for any home.
- Diverse Product Line - Because copper is one of the oldest types of gutter systems available, there are components and fittings for every type of application including flat fascia, canted fascia, exposed rafter tails and crown moldings.
Copper gutters are an excellent choice whether you're starting a home improvement project or simply looking to add value to your home.
Drawbacks of Using Copper Gutters
Copper gutters have a few potential drawbacks that should be considered before installation. They are more expensive than other materials, but ultimately the upfront costs are balanced out by their longevity. Additionally, copper gutters can be more challenging to install than other types of gutters.
Here are a few situations where copper gutters might not be the best option:
- If you are working with a tight budget, copper gutters may not be the most cost-effective option - however they will last much longer than cheaper gutter types.
- The oxidation and patina process can sometimes leave a green streaking or staining on any runoff areas.
- Ideally, copper gutters should be soldered and installed by a professional so finding good high quality labor could be difficult in certain areas of the country.
However, despite these potential drawbacks, copper gutters offer many advantages that may make them the best option for your home. Copper gutters are more durable than other materials and offer a unique and elegant look. If you are willing to invest in the upfront costs, copper gutters can add beauty and value to your home.
Types of Copper Gutters
K style copper gutters have become popular over the last couple of decades because they can be rollformed seamless through a gutter machine. They are the easiest of all the copper gutter systems to install and typically require less labor than half round gutter installations. They carry a bit more water than their half round counter part and are typically installed on flat fascia applications.
Highback gutters, also called apron gutters, are gutters that have the gutter flashing built into the gutter. This will prevent water infiltration between the gutter and gutter flashing and is a great choice on flat roof applications and for homes that do not have an eave where ice damming allows water to penetrate inside the home. Highback gutters are available in ten ft. sections and typically soldered at the seams.
Half round gutters are the most popular profile for copper gutters as they add an architectural appeal to historic and traditional applications.
Reverse bead gutters have the front bead of the gutter rolling to the inside of the gutter which allows for an inside bracket/hidden hanger. Reverse bead gutters are made from a seamless gutter machine and custom lengths can be provided.
The single bead gutter has the front bead of the gutter rolling to the outside and is the original profile. Single bead gutters will not allow for inside/hidden brackets. Single bead gutters are available in 10' and 20' sections.
The double bead gutter has two beads of metal running along its edge. This makes it more resistant to leaking, but it is also more difficult to install and generally costs more than other types of gutters.
Highback Gutters, or Apron Gutters, are one-piece gutter systems that incorporate the gutter and the gutter flashing into one piece where other gutter systems have a separate component for the flashing. A highback gutter is a great choice for applications where it is imperative that no moisture gets between the gutter and the gutter flashing.
Copper Gutter Installation
Copper gutters are a beautiful and durable addition to any home, but they require more care and attention during installation to ensure a watertight seal. The following steps will help you install copper gutters correctly:
- Step 1: Determine the size and profile that you will be installing. The installation process will change depending on the chosen profile so follow manufacturer installation instructions on the specific product being installed.
- Step 2: Next, you'll need to gather the necessary tools and materials for the job. These include a tape measure, tin snips, rivet gun, screw gun, soldering iron, and flux brush.
- Step 3: Once you have all of your materials, it's time to begin installation. Start by soldering the end caps to the gutters.
- Step 4: Cut the holes/outlets into the bottom of the gutter and solder the outlet tube into the gutter.
- Step 5: Install the gutter flashing (if applicable) and the gutter hangers. Typically the gutter hangers get installed on 24" centers with stainless steel screws.
- Step 6: Finally, you can install the copper downspouts. These should be fastened securely to the brackets using lead, bronze or copper hardware and fasteners.
- Step 7: Once the gutters and downspouts are installed, you can add additional features like rain chains or copper conductor heads to complete the look.
Copper gutters can add a unique and stylish touch to any home. However, installation can be a bit tricky. If you're not confident in installing gutters correctly, it's best to leave the job to a professional. You can find a qualified contractor in your area by searching online or asking for recommendations from friends or family.
Common Alternatives To Copper Gutters
Not all homeowners are interested in copper gutters. Some may find them too expensive, while others might not like the color or style. If you're one of these homeowners, don't worry – there are plenty of other materials to choose from.
Here are some common alternatives to copper gutters:
- Vinyl Gutters - Vinyl gutters are a popular choice for those looking for an alternative to copper. They're much cheaper and come in a variety of colors. However, they're not as durable as copper and can crack or break in extreme weather conditions.
- Aluminum Gutters - Aluminum gutters are more affordable than copper gutters and are also easier to install. However, aluminum is not as durable as copper and may not last as long.
- Galvanized Steel Gutters - Galvanized steel gutters are less expensive than copper gutters but can rust over time if not properly maintained. They are also not as aesthetically pleasing as copper gutters.
- Euro Copper Gutters - Euro copper gutters are an alternative to single bead and reverse bead half round gutters. They are imported and available in metric sizes. One benefit of the Euro copper gutters is that they have gasketed fittings available that eliminate the need for soldering.
- Designer Copper Gutters - Designer copper gutters are a great alternative to traditional copper gutters. They are made of aluminum, which makes them more affordable, and they have a painting process that gives them a marbled, variegated look that is very similar to true copper.
- Freedom Gray Copper Gutters - Freedom Gray is made from pure copper and then has a coating that gives it a gray finish while eliminating the green staining that can be common with standard copper. Freedom Gray gutters will still oxidize and change colors over time but with different shades of gray as opposed to different shades of green.
- Galvalume Gutters - The tensile strength of steel makes Galvalume gutters a good choice for areas that experience severe weather conditions. The aluminum and zinc coating protects the gutter from rust and corrosion, making it a longer-lasting option than regular copper gutters. However, the coating can also chip or scratch, leading to rust and corrosion.
- Zinc Gutters - Pre-weathered zinc gutters are a great long-term investment because of their anti-corrosive characteristics. However, they may be more expensive than copper gutters.
- Mill Finish Aluminum Gutters - Mill finish aluminum gutters are a cheaper alternative to copper gutters. They are available in similar profiles and sizes but do not have the same longevity
Copper Gutter FAQs
How long will copper gutters last?
Copper gutters will last at least 50 years with many applications in Europe lasting over a century before needing replacement. However, with proper maintenance and regular cleaning, they can last longer. Copper gutters can be painted, but the paint will eventually wear off, and the copper will oxidize and form a patina.
Can you paint copper gutters?
Copper gutters can be painted. They will, however, oxidize over time which will affect the paint finish over time.
Will copper gutters turn green?
Copper naturally oxides and turns green. The oxidation/patina process is the copper protecting itself as the coating helps protect the copper from the elements. Applying a protective lacquer to the copper will vastly slow down the oxidation process as the bare copper will not be as exposed to the elements (water and sun).