The Life Span of Different Gutters

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Reviewed by Jose Figueroa
Updated April 5, 2022
red tile roof and gutter
Photo: Mr Twister / Adobe Stock

Highlights

  • Gutters last around 20–25 years on average.

  • The more durable the material, the longer you can expect your gutter system to last.

  • Proper maintenance will extend the life span of your gutters.

  • Vinyl gutters have the shortest life span of around 10–15 years.

  • Copper gutters have the longest life span, reaching upwards of 100 years.

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If you live in an area where it rains cats and dogs, you need long-lasting gutters to keep your home protected. The average life span of gutters is around 20 years, but depending on the gutter material and whether you go seamless, it can last up to 100 years. Read on to learn about the life span of various gutter types and how to keep them lasting a long time. 

How Long Do Aluminum Gutters Last?

Aluminum gutters are among the strongest contenders for draining water from your roof. They come in at the low end of costs but don’t sacrifice durability. On average, aluminum gutters will last around 25 years.

“Ultimately, the more expensive the materials, often the longer lasting the gutter system,” says Jose Figueroa, Expert Review Board member and crew supervisor and sales representative at Artisan Quality Roofing in Apex, North Carolina. “However, unless you plan to live in your home for more than 20 years, seamless aluminum is an affordable, reliable option.”

To increase their life span, stay on top of cleaning them. Ideally, you’ll want to clean your gutters twice a year, but you may need to up this to four times a year. If you want to ensure the gutters are cleaned properly, hire a gutter cleaning service near you.

Seamless gutters are an option for aluminum material. Rather than having a break in-between pieces of gutter, they’re simply one long piece of material, with breakpoints at the corners. This means there’s lower risk of bending, which may also increase the life span of your aluminum gutters.

How Long Do Zinc Gutters Last?

close of grey zinc gutters
Photo: Bokeh Art Photo / Adobe Stock

Zinc gutters are a step up from aluminum, as they’re around 99% metal, making them highly durable and rigid. Expect them to last about 50 years. This is thanks to zinc gutters requiring welding, making the material just as strong, if not stronger, than a seamless option. Also, zinc gutters don’t rust or warp.

How Long Do Galvanized Steel Gutters Last?

Galvanized steel is made up of mostly steel but with a layer of zinc to prevent rusting over time. Overall, galvanized steel gutters will last around 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance. This includes reapplying a seal to the gutters every five to 10 years, though you may need to reapply more often if you live in areas with heavy rain or snow.

How Long Do Stainless Steel Gutters Last?

Stainless steel gutters forgo the zinc coating and are rust-resistant, but this makes them significantly heavier, which adds to the cost. They’re designed to last up to 50 years with proper upkeep.

How Long Do Vinyl Gutters Last?

Vinyl gutters are a good alternative to gutter materials if you live in a relatively mild climate with little rain or snow year-round. They’re not extremely durable, as vinyl is the most likely material to become brittle over time (especially in extremely hot or cold temps), and bend or snap. Vinyl gutters tend to have a life span of 10 to 15 years at most.

How Long Do Wood Gutters Last?

Wood gutters are excellent for creating a rustic look for the home, but they’re not the most reliable gutters on the market—though this does depend on the type of wood you go for. You’ll also find that wood gutters fall on the costlier side without seeing a true uptick in performance. Also, it can be a challenge to find a pro who makes and installs wood gutters.

Fir, cypress, and pine gutters last on average 20 to 25 years. Stronger woods such as redwood may last upwards of 50 years.

How Long Do Copper Gutters Last?

Copper gutters don’t rust, offer a beautiful aesthetic, and have some of the highest heat and cold resistance possible. While they do have a higher price point than other options out there, you may never need to replace them, so long as they’re properly maintained. With a little TLC, copper gutters can last upwards of 100 years.

How Do You Maximize the Life Span of Gutters?

To ensure your gutters reach their maximum life span, stay on top of cleaning and maintenance. If you notice any signs of damage to your gutters, call in a local gutter repair contractor ASAP to avoid any further damage.

“Another way to extend the life of your gutters is to install quality gutter guards,” says Figueroa. “They keep debris out of the gutters—which can deteriorate and damage the gutters—and allow for proper water flow.”

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