Plastic Vs Metal Gutters: Which Is Better To Use In Australia?

Which are better, metal gutters or plastic gutters?  This is a question that I often hear.  If you live in Australia and have this same question, be sure to read the below article where we discuss the pros and cons of both then read this article to why I prefer metal.

Metal Gutters

Metal gutters with no eave
Example of colourbond metal gutter installed within Western Australia

Metal gutters (often referred to as zinc or colorbond gutters) are a popular choice amongst homeowners within Australia.  Below is a list of the pros and cons of metal gutters in comparison to plastic gutters. 

Pros of Metal Gutters

Resilient to extreme heat – compared to plastic gutters, metal gutters are far more resilient to extreme heat and are a great choice if you’re property is located within a bushfire-prone area; 

  • Look great – with the vast number of different styles of gutters available combined with a range of colours, metal gutters definitely look the part and are considered more aesthetically pleasing than plastic gutters.
  • Easy to paint – unlike plastic gutters, metal gutters can be repainted time and time again;
  • Compatibility – as metal gutters are used on a majority of houses in Australia, there are a vast number of metal gutter fixtures and clips available within the market.  One example would be fascia gutter clips, which simply click onto a standard fascia with no need to use fixings.  This can make metal gutters much easier to remove and replace compared to plastic gutters.

Cons of Metal Gutters

  • Can rust over time – although this can take decades to occur, naturally, if a metal gutter is not maintained well there’s a chance that corrosion and rust can develop.
  • Scratch and marks – unfortunately as it is zinculame under the paint you’ll find that if a coloured gutter is scratched the underlying zinc colour becomes visible, whereas with a plastic gutter as the colour is throughout the PVC scratches don’t show up.

Plastic (PVC) Gutters

plastic pvc gutters

Plastic gutters (often referred to as PVC or Vinyl gutters) are an option for consideration when it comes to the choice of gutters within Australia.  Below is a list of the pros and cons of plastic gutters in comparison to metal gutters. 

Pros of Plastic Gutters

  • Will never rust – unlike metal gutters, plastic gutters are not vulnerable to rust or corrosion.
  • Easy to install – with a number of pre-made connections (such as joiners and corners) available plastic gutters are considered somewhat easier to install compared to metal gutters, especially for the more DIY-minded folk.

Cons of Plastic Gutters

  • Prone to UV – due to high UV levels in Australia, plastic gutters can become weak and brittle over time.  Also, high levels of UV can cause thermal movement causing the joints and rubber seals to break apart;
  • Vulnerable to extreme heat – Unlike metal gutters, plastic gutters are much more vulnerable to extreme heat where they can warp or in worst-case scenarios (such as bushfires) can melt. 
  • Hard to paint – unlike metal gutters paint doesn’t adhere well to PVC and you’ll find plastic gutters to be much harder to paint in comparison to metal.
  • Can be damaged in severe weather – I haven’t seen it personally myself, though I have heard of some plastic gutters breaking up in hail storms where older more brittle plastic gutters have been it by hail stones with the force of the hailstones smashing holes through the plastic gutters.

Which is better… metal or plastic?

Now to the part that we’re all waiting for… which is better?  Personally out of the two, for the reasons stated above I believe metal gutters are the better option for Australian homeowners.  Plastic gutters have their benefits and are a popular choice in other countries, though due to the harsh climate in Australia and the options available for metal gutters, I believe metal gutters are the way to go.

What about plastic downpipes?

Gutters and downpipes
Example of a PVC round downpipe fitted to a metal gutter

When it comes to downpipes, however, I actually mind the use of plastic downpipes in some situations.  Although I wouldn’t use plastic downpipes for eave drops (where the downpipe runs from the gutter through the house eave and down the wall) I can see how plastic downpipes have their benefits.

A leaf catch from gutter to downpipe
Example of plastic PVC downpipe and leaf catcher connected to metal gutter

For example, I would consider plastic downpipes for down pipes where leaf catchers or water tanks are to be plumbed in and also for external round downpipes where using PVC connectors are much easier than trying to cut and joint round metal downpipes.

Final thoughts

I hope you found this article helpful and that you now have the information required to help you make your decision on plastic vs metal gutters.

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