Zinc vs Copper Gutters

zinc vs copper gutters

Gutters have distinct functional and aesthetic uses for the outside of any private or commercial property. Choosing the right metal from which to construct them can greatly affect their look and functionality. Knowing your stylistic and monetary needs, as well as the limitations of certain metals in your region, can affect the durability of your gutter installation in ways you may not have considered.

Most people don’t think of their gutters until they’re dealing with the myriad of problems that come from ignoring them. These problems could be anything from leaking onto your equipment and employees or causing an unwanted pest problem, to letting moisture and mold seep into the foundation of your house or business and costing you thousands of dollars in property repair that you weren’t prepared for.

In order to avoid these issues and get gutters that best reflect your intentions for the look and function of your property, a licensed gutter contractor will help you compare zinc vs copper gutters, going over the different uses and costs to help you get the gutters that are right for your needs.

Longevity

In the question of zinc vs copper gutters, any home or property owner will be asking if they should prepare to replace their gutter system during their lifetime. While both zinc and copper last much longer than aluminum, copper seems to have the edge because of one key factor: salt-water.

For installations and homes in the vicinity of the coast, the high salt content in the air will cause the zinc to permanently stain. Zinc manufacturers recommend regularly power washing zinc gutters that are exposed to the salt air, or within 1km of the sea. Otherwise, the un-rinsed zinc facades will eventually break down, resulting in 20-40 years less life expectancy on your gutter system as compared with those that are installed inland.

Since this can be a lot of work depending on the extent of your installation, you may opt for copper gutters in coastal areas. Both copper and zinc, in ideal conditions, last longer than any other gutter installations (you can expect them to be around longer than you: 100 years or so). Yet in comparison to zinc, copper actually becomes stronger when it chemically weathers due to an external condition like exposure to salt-water. It may last even longer by the sea.

Free Estimate

One further consideration is how the roof of the building in question has been shingled. Shingles made of cedar have been known to cause runoff from the roof to become corrosive to zinc. Factors like the composition of your roof and the surrounding chemical contents of the air are something to consider when deciding on a material for your gutters. After all, even if you know the expectancies of the metals, you want to get the most out of that expectancy.

Appearance

The natural inclination is to think that copper easily wins the appearance category because of its rustic finish, which is often considered the ideal style for luxury and historic homes, or a business that wants to make a big statement about its wealth and style. It perfectly complements wood and brick exteriors. Over time, copper develops a blue-green patina from oxidization that adds even more old-world charm, depending on your needs.

However, comparing zinc vs copper gutters isn’t just about the base appearance. It’s also about the options. Though copper gutters can be stylish, they can’t easily be altered. In comparison, zinc gutters come in many styles and several colors. Installing copper gutters will always be a statement, so installations and homes that want visible gutters for reasons of style may choose to opt for a flashier alternative.

Since both copper and zinc gutters are long-lasting and durable, the appearance may be a key factor in determining which you spring for.

Cost

Knowing that copper is considered a luxury material and lasts just as long in any environment, it’s probably no surprise that it costs more. How much do copper gutters cost? Compared to zinc gutters, copper gutters cost anywhere from 10 to 100 percent more, depending on the shape of the molds, the soldering required, and the extent of the installation.

Another thing to consider is how your area of residence might affect the material you choose to construct your gutters from. In areas prone to crime, you may want to consider zinc gutters as an alternative to copper. Since zinc has fewer applications in modern electronics, it’s not as valuable to steal and pawn for the raw materials.

This may not be a comfortable consideration to make, but it may be necessary when considering the kind of statement you want to make in your particular area.

If the cost of copper gutters isn’t an issue, you could get all the benefits of durability and longevity that come with copper gutters while keeping its appearance unassuming and unchanging throughout its lifetime by opting for zinc coated copper gutters instead.

Conclusion

When it comes to zinc vs copper gutters, home and business owners will probably have three main considerations for their gutter contractor: longevity, appearance, and cost. In all these cases, copper and zinc gutters have advantages and disadvantages.

Even though copper gutters tend to run higher in price, they are just as durable and long-lasting no matter where you live, sometimes more so. Though zinc gutters have special considerations that you need to keep in mind due to the composition of the metal, they are also more unassuming, as well as being more affordable. You may want to make a stylistic statement with the gutters of a historic home, or you may want to keep a lower profile in an area prone to crime.

Knowing the qualities of the gutter materials as they relate to your region and your needs is what an experienced gutter contractor can help you with. One thing at least is certain: both zinc and copper gutters are two of the most enduring and durable gutter materials and either could be easily expected to outlive you. Either would be a welcome addition to most any gutter installation.

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