Because they’re lightweight, readily available, and are affordable, vinyl gutters are a popular choice among homeowners. As tempting as it can be to go with vinyl gutters, many people regret their decision once they’ve lived with them for a while.
At Spout Gutter Pros, we’ll provide you with 10 solid reasons why vinyl gutters may not be the best choice for your home. We don’t want you to make a regrettable mistake that will cost more money and unneeded frustration over the long run.
You know the old expression, “You get what you pay for”. Let’s take a look at 10 reasons why it doesn’t pay to install vinyl rain gutters:
1. DIY Installation Can be Tricky
Because vinyl rain gutters are lightweight and have a reputation for easy installation, it’s tempting for DIY novices to tackle the job. But assembly isn’t always as easy as it appears.
- Vinyl gutters come in pre-cut 10- and 20-foot sections that snap together at the joints. Sounds simple to install, right? While experienced DIYers find it fairly straightforward to install vinyl gutters, many novices find assembly and installation frustrating and tricky.
- For vinyl gutters to function properly, they need to be hung correctly. This not only includes placing the hangers at appropriate distances for your particular climate and conditions around your home (heavy snow or leaf debris, for example) but also understanding the importance of installing the gutter at the most appropriate slope according to your particular roof pitch.
2. Structurally Weak
Because vinyl is made from PVC plastic, it’s not efficient at supporting heavy loads such as snow, ice, or prolonged downpours.
- If vinyl gutters are exposed to heavy loads over a period of time, they can sag and seams begin to break down and pull apart.
- Due to inherent structural weakness, vinyl gutters aren’t recommended for homes in four-season climates where there are heavy rains or where snow load accumulates during the winter.
- Vinyl gutters can’t withstand the weight of a heavy ladder leaning against them, especially when the weight of an adult is added to the equation. This limitation can make it difficult to clean the gutters or access your roof.
3. Susceptible to Extreme Temperature Changes
The extreme temperature variations that occur in regions of the country with four-season climates are very hard on vinyl gutters.
- Vinyl gutters become brittle as temperatures drop. During a storm, if a large branch or tree falls onto the gutter, the brittle vinyl can break or shatter. This is why vinyl gutters aren’t a good choice for homes surrounded by trees.
- When the weather changes to hot sunny summer days, the vinyl doesn’t adapt to the extreme temperature change. The vinyl can begin to develop cracks, sag, and warp.
- Prolonged UV rays can cause vinyl gutters to deteriorate and weaken.
4. Limited to Mild Climates
Because temperature extremes add to the structural weakness of vinyl gutters, they are best suited for installation in mild climates.
- Intense sunlight, heat, heavy rain, snow, and ice – these are some of the conditions that can cause vinyl gutters to quickly become weak and brittle. The weaker the vinyl becomes, the more it sags and joints separate.
- Vinyl gutters are also not suited to strong windy conditions. They are too lightweight to stand up to strong gusts and intense winds during tornadoes or hurricanes.
5. Can Fade and Discolor
- Over their short lifespan, vinyl gutters, especially the darker brown color, can fade and discolor.
- Oxidation from prolonged exposure to sunlight causes discoloration. A section of gutter exposed all day to the sun may look very different from a section shaded by trees, or on the north side of the home.
6. Short Lifespan
The average lifespan of vinyl gutters is ten years, although in mild climates they can last up to twenty years if well-maintained.
- In general, vinyl gutters can be up to 25% cheaper than aluminum, but they only last about 10% as long.
- Exposure to temperature extremes and/or intense sun shorten the lifespan of vinyl gutters.
- The innate structural weakness of vinyl adds to a short lifespan.
- It’s true that vinyl will not rust or corrode, but this feature doesn’t add to the lifespan.
- The time and expense of maintenance, plus the prospect of having to replace entire sections, can mean that the upfront affordability wasn’t worth the short lifespan and long-term inconvenience.
7. Susceptible to Leaking
A non-leaking gutter system is key to protecting your home from potential water damage. Because vinyl gutters are only available in sections, they are the most vulnerable to the leaking of all gutter types.
- Vinyl expands and contracts as temperatures change. During this cycle of expanding and contracting, debris makes its way into the seams. The debris starts to break down the rubber seals and soon leaks appear.
- If you want assurance that you won’t have to continually check your rain gutters for cracks, holes, and pulled apart seams, you’re far better off choosing metal gutters. Metal gutters come in both seamed and seamless varieties. The joints of seamed metal gutters are secured by soldering or rivets which makes a much stronger seam than vinyl.
8. Susceptible to Fire
If you live in an area where wildfires are a threat, metal gutters are highly recommended over vinyl. Vinyl gutters quickly melt and detach, exposing the fascia, roof, and siding to sparks and subsequent fire damage.
9. Limited Color Selection
When you decide to go with vinyl gutters, you may want to match your roof, fascia, or siding. However, most home improvement centers carry a limited range of vinyl gutter colors.
- Normally you’ll be able to choose between white, cream, or brown. Although additional colors may be available, you may have to wait for them to be manufactured.
- If you want to paint the gutters yourself to get an exact color match, many vinyl gutter manufacturers will void your warranty. Metal gutters can be painted in absolutely any color you can imagine, giving you far more flexibility in matching the gutter to your home.
10. Not the Best Environmental Choice
Vinyl gutters are made from polyvinyl chloride or PVC.
- When chlorine is added to the plastic, the end product becomes much more durable, but the manufacturing process is not environmentally friendly and PVC isn’t biodegradable.
- The manufacturing and disposal process releases dioxins. Some experts believe that PVC can leach toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater.
Given all the disadvantages of vinyl rain gutters, you may want to consider other options. Aluminum gutters are slightly more expensive but far more durable and longer-lasting. But gutters are also available in galvanized steel, stainless steel, zinc, and copper. Spout Gutter Pros has researched all gutter types to help you save time finding the best gutter to protect your home. We provide descriptions of all types of gutters and outline the pros and cons of each material.
Once you’ve decided which type of rain gutter is best for your home, Spout Gutter Pros can connect you with top-rated licensed and insured contractors who will install them expertly and efficiently. Remember, you get what you pay for!
When you’re ready for new rain gutters, Spout Gutter Pros is the fastest, easiest way to find the best professionals to install them. At SGP, we vet every expert in our network so you’re assured they’re licensed, insured, and reputable. Ask for a free quote right now!