Vinyl vs Aluminum Gutters: Which is Better for your Home?

In the left corner, we have our first contender, aluminum! A tough gutter made from metal that will last for decades.

And in the right corner, we have vinyl! A lightweight and affordable option.

Who will win between vinyl and aluminum? Well, that depends on your home, budget, and more – so let’s dig in.

Vinyl vs Aluminum Gutters: A Big Difference

aluminum gutters instead of vinyl gutters

Choosing between vinyl and aluminum gutters is no easy choice.

It’s like choosing between apples and oranges. Both are fruits, both are tasty, but they are quite different from each other. Vinyl and aluminum gutters both drain water away from the house, but they have their own pros and cons.

The major difference between vinyl and aluminum gutters is that aluminum will typically last twice as long as vinyl.

Aluminum gutters will last around 25 years. Vinyl gutters tend to give out around 10-15 years.

However, vinyl is typically cheaper to install, especially if you plan on DIYing them. But it does take longer to install. Each section needs gets put on section by section, while aluminum gutters are seamless and go up in one piece.

Here is a basic outline of the differences:

Vinyl guttersAluminum gutters
Lasts 10-15 yearsLasts 25 years
Slow to installEasy to install
Cheaper (usually)More expensive

Ease of Installation

You would imagine that vinyl is easier to install because it’s a lighter and cheaper material, but that’s not always the case.

It all depends on if you plan on installing the gutters yourself or want to go with a contractor.

Most contractors prefer installing aluminum gutters (it’s what they’re used to doing). They have all the tools required to quickly install seamless gutters.

Vinyl gutters get installed with small sections that snap on to each other. This makes it a more time-consuming process for contractors. They’ll need to go up and down ladders and align everything.

Because of this, most contractors won’t install vinyl gutters.

Aluminum gutters are usually seamless and get installed in one seamless place. There are some advantages to this for durability as well.

If you plan on DIYing, vinyl will takee a long time. But you’ll find it easier to install smaller sections if you’re working alone without a crew. Plus you won’t need the equipment required for extruding and cutting seamless gutters.

When it comes to ease of installation, aluminum gutters win with a few caveats.

Which Handles Rainfall Better?

Now, when it comes to actual rainfall, which one works better? Aluminum or vinyl?

Well, if both gutter systems are the same size and are brand new, it will be a close match. They can both handle the same amount of water flow and neither would be better than the other.

But if we wait a few years and come back, aluminum gutters will almost always win.

Because of the seamless design, aluminum gutters develop less leaks over time (but we’ll get into this soon). Also aluminum gutters tend to sag less and remain functional for longer.

Lifespan of Vinyl and Aluminum Gutters

If you’re getting new gutters, you probably want them to last for a long time. Both aluminum and vinyl will last for at least a decade, but aluminum wins out in the end.

Aluminum gutters last 25 years (on average).

Vinyl gutters last 15 years (on average).

The question is, why do aluminum gutters last longer than vinyl? Well, there are two main reasons.

1. The Seamless Gutter Design

Aluminum gutters are usually seamless (read more about it here). The name is somewhat self-explanatory. Aluminum gutters don’t have any seams, because the gutter is usually one single piece instead of small sections attached to other. The joints where the gutters connect give the seams.

And since aluminum gutters are one piece, there are no seams, hence “seamless”.

For non-seamless gutters, each joint where the gutters attach to each other are a possible point of failure. Overtime, they begin to leak, bend, or sag leading to your gutters no longer working properly and overflowing.

Imagine a bunch of LEGOs stuck together, that’s how non-seamless gutters get put together.

The joints are usually held together by gutter glue (and a small bracket) which wears down fast. Because of this, the standard for gutters nowadays is to use seamless aluminum gutters.

Vinyl cannot get made in the seamless style, only with smaller sections.

Note: There are other seamless gutters made from other metals such as steel, copper, and aluminum.

2. Material Durability

It shouldn’t come as a shock to you that aluminum, a metal, last longer than vinyl.

Aluminum can withstand heavier loads, such as ice and snow. Making it a great option in those climates.

Not to mention, aluminum also reacts better to extreme heat and cold. With extreme weather, aluminum doesn’t break.

Vinyl will become brittle when exposed to heat and cold. This can lead to the vinyl gutters cracking or sagging much faster than aluminum. Although some homeowners swear by Ameritex Vinyl gutters, and have had a lot of success using them. An extra layer or two of paint can be applied to keep the gutters protected for longer.

Vinyl does have one advantage over aluminum, though. Vinyl does not rust, giving it an advantage in that area. If you have thicker aluminum gutters that get coated in paint to protect them, they can last a long time.

If you notice the paint on your gutters is beginning to chip, it’s a sign to repaint them or touch them up. This will keep rust from eating away at your gutters.

Which Costs More?

Vinyl GuttersAluminum Gutters
$3 – $6 per foot$4 – $14 per foot

Looking at cost, aluminum gutters are typically pricier. However, it depends on if you plan on DIYing or hiring a contractor.

Most contractors don’t like installing vinyl gutters, so they may actually give you a more expensive quote for the project.

This is because aluminum is much more common and it’s what they’re used to installing day in and day out. Making them use vinyl will slow them down.

If you plan on DIYing, you’ll find the price for the materials to be cheaper if you opt for vinyl.

Other Reasons to Choose Aluminum Gutters Over Vinyl Guttering

  • Popularity: The majority of American homes use aluminum gutters, making them a time-tested option. Vinyl gets used much less often because it does not last as long.
  • Easier to get: Due to popularity, it’s very easy to find aluminum gutters. Almost every gutter contractor will be able to install seamless aluminum gutters.
  • Can be cheaper: Contrary to common opinion, aluminum gutters can actually be cheaper due to how common they are. Most contractors are very fast at installing this type of gutter and can do so at an affordable rate.
  • Paint: Aluminum gutters are easy to paint and you can design them to be whatever color you want. Whether you want them to match your trim or your siding, it’s up to you.
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