The pros of aluminium guttering

Martyn Reed, the technical director of ARP Ltd in Leicester, is keen to discuss the benefits that aluminium can offer as a rainwater and roofline solution

With the government looking to deliver a strategy of building affordable housing, improving the quality of rented housing, helping more people to buy a home, and providing housing support for vulnerable people through local authorities and developers, there has been a huge increase in the number of manufacturers working with green sustainable materials.

When it comes to building or refurbishing homes, builders are often challenged to use good quality sustainable building products that can improve cost, save time and achieve targets as set by government. In a typical installation uPVC rainwater gets fitted by default against other material systems, and while not disputing any environmental credentials of uPVC systems, they will not deliver the design life of 40-60 years as offered by aluminium.

Aluminium is a very versatile and abundant material. It has many uses and is visible in a multitude of everyday items. Furthermore, it is 100 per cent recyclable, with no loss of property so it presents itself as a leader in the modern ‘green’ thinking generation. Considering that aluminium rainwater has between 33 per cent and 40 per cent recycled content (90+ per cent with seamless systems) the environmental impact is significantly reduced.

Where aluminium comes into its own, is in its ability to help deliver an enhanced aesthetic design. We can see when viewing many of the ‘homebuilder’ programmes on TV, the ambitious way in which both architects and clients are looking to deliver a modern and bespoke style, which is unique from the norm. Utilising the strength and formability of aluminium gives a homebuilder free licence to design a house with confidence and one that the rainwater drainage aspect can be produced.

There is often a requirement for homes which are being developed in Green Belt or Conservation areas to use eco-friendly building materials, therefore aluminium rainwater systems provide the ideal choice due to their eco-friendly credentials and longer lifecycle.

Further, with the extensive use of RAL colours in external building products e.g. window frames and other architectural fittings, house design now allows matching or coordinating colours to be used. A buildings appearance can be dramatically transformed which can give it “curb appeal” especially when it comes to attracting clients. Traditional thinking goes out of the window and it is now common to see both rainwater products and roofline systems blending in to the building envelope and providing aesthetic appeal.

Often there is debate over cost versus quality in the housebuilding programme. There are different types of aluminium rainwater systems, so whether a pressed, roll-formed, extruded or cast profile is required, there is almost certainly a product that will suit any budget, providing a cost-effective and high performance solution.

In looking to provide the one million homes by 2020, it is quite likely that there will be an increase in the number of multiple occupancy dwellings split between both public and private ownership. Generally designed to be over two storeys high, these builds will have maintenance programmes in place and will make whole life time cost consideration of any installation an important commercial factor. The use of aluminium for roof drainage and on the eaves as fascia/soffit and coping provides a ‘fit and forget’ solution over the design life period, being easy to install, light and long lasting, which also reduces the need to incur replacement material costs compared to other systems that may fail.

More recently, we have seen that changing environmental conditions in the UK are producing more storms and increased rainfall intensity. Leaking gutters can cause extensive damage, not only to the brickwork but also to the interior of the property resulting in costly repairs. Rainwater systems provide a defence against this damage, which is often neglected, or given lower priority within the projects budget. Having a product that can either offer a jointless / seamless system, or one where there is a reduced thermal movement will greatly reduce the chance of maintenance and repair costs getting out of hand.

Manufacturers have stepped up to the mark by offering a variety of interactive tools. The use of ‘Rainfall Calculators’ makes it easy for architects, engineers and installers to evaluate current drainage abilities of actual roofs, therefore allowing the planning and developing projects a lot easier than it used too.

In summary, using aluminium as a rainwater drainage option should be considered as an alternative to other types of systems as they’re both a cost-effective and high performance solution.

Gutter maintenance

  • Gutters should be checked twice per year and cleared
  • Gutters and pipes should be kept clear of obstructions
  • Rainwater systems should be washed down annually and inspected for damage
  • Any damage discovered be rectified and touch up paint applied if required