Medal to the Metal

The Metal Gutter Manufacturers association puts the case for why metal rainwater systems should be the first choice.

Although metal rainwater drainage systems may often cost more initially, they offer excellent ‘lifetime’ value. With homeowners and specifiers increasingly looking at the whole-life cost of their projects, especially where clients are also looking for individuality and low maintenance solutions, metal systems provide exceptional value for money, as well as design solutions that cannot be matched by other materials.

Metal rainwater systems offer an unrivalled ability to cope with extraordinary weather. Gutters can be deep with larger holding capacity and improved flow rates, and metals expand and contract much less than PVCu systems which have to include joints to allow for thermal movement. All these features mean a greater ability to cope with and endure the increasingly volatile weather conditions we are experiencing in the United Kingdom.

As environmental issues become increasingly important, metals also represent the most sustainable, environmentally friendly building materials due to their longevity (avoiding the use of precious resources), and their recyclability, saving further landfill space.

The choice of material and designs available in metal rainwater products has increased markedly in recent years with the availability of pre-painted metal systems giving clients and architects confidence in the quality of finish, and providing the installer with pre-finished systems that are easy to install.

Homeowners now have an increased awareness of metal rainwater systems, the increased use of the internet certainly assisting with this.


Steel is the most cost-effective of the metal rainwater ranges, and is smart, stylish and contemporary. Its modern look and flexibility of colour finish means it can add style to a contemporary building, looking equally effective on traditional properties or for commercial applications.

Steel is lightweight and easy to manage, but stronger and more durable than PVCu. As installed, it offers a robust rainwater disposal solution with manufacturer’s guarantee of up to 15 years – although with sensible maintenance, life expectancy can be more like 25 years.

Finished as either plain galvanised, powder coated or pre-painted, steel can come in a variety of colours giving flexibility and choice.

Extruded & pressed aluminium systems

Modern manufacturing processes produce extruded and pressed aluminium systems that are long-lasting, highly efficient, and a cost-effective, quality option. Aluminium does not rust and so requires minimal maintenance, which is another great benefit in the UK’s wet climate. Pressed and extruded aluminium systems are more economical than traditional, thicker cast aluminium and should last in excess of 25 years.

These systems are available in a wide range of profile and coatings to suit all types of building. From half round, vintage moulded ogee, Victorian to contemporary joggle box profiles, all are available in a factory applied powder coated system to any RAL colour.

Gutters are generally available in large profiles, so this material works well on light commercial and industrial buildings as well as residential projects.

Cast aluminium

Traditional cast aluminium is authentic, extremely robust, and crucially, long lasting. It is lighter in weight, and so easier to install than cast iron, but heavier than modern fabricated aluminium. Cast aluminium is also made using traditional die casting methods. It is for these reasons that it is towards the top end of the price range – more expensive than fabricated aluminium and steel, but lower in cost than pre-painted cast iron, offering an ideal option for a quality project or the perfect alternative for a traditional property where cast iron is not required by the specification.

Cast aluminium now comes in a wide variety of profiles which look great on a range of projects, traditional and modern. Available powder coated to any RAL colour, it offers great choice, comes ready for immediate installation and requires minimal maintenance.

Cast iron

Cast iron systems are designed to offer an unrivalled lifespan compared to other materials available. The material is immensely strong, will look superb on traditional style properties, and is a must for listed properties and historical renovation projects. Although the most lavish material for guttering, it should last at least 50 years with the correct maintenance, with many systems lasting 100 years plus.

Cast iron guttering is now available in a wide range of shapes, including half round, Victorian ogee or moulded ogee profiles, with round and square downpipe profiles to match. It is available in a primer coat for painting on site or a pre-painted finish for direct installation.

Cast iron is the heaviest of the materials available, and although installation is easier than ever before, a cast iron rainwater system needs to be professionally installed. Where a unique style of gutter, downpipe or hopper head is required, bespoke designs are available from specialist foundries.

Energy efficiency

Finally, whichever metal you choose – cast aluminium, cast iron, fabricated steel or fabricated aluminium – metal represents the most sustainable environmentally-friendly building material choice. Metal rainwater drainage systems can contribute significantly to a sustainable design concept, thanks to their high recycled content, recyclability and energy efficiency.