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Metal gutters versus PVC: Which is better?

By Graham Kajilwa | August 5th 2021

While there are metallic (stainless steel) gutters in the market, most builders prefer to use those made of plastic (Polyvinyl Chloride).

Putting up a decent house is not a cheap affair. This does not mean individuals do not look out for ‘cheaper options in the market that are readily available. One such is when it comes to the selection of gutters.

While there are metallic (stainless steel) gutters in the market, most builders prefer to use those made of plastic (Polyvinyl Chloride).

Mabati Rolling Mills Site Manager Wilfred Mumbo attributes the preference of plastic gutters over metallic ones to rust. Metals rust.

The availability of PVC and jua kali options, he notes saw MRM prematurely retire their line of metallic gutters. However, the company known for roofing solutions has re-introduced their line of gutters under the Rain Gauge brand.

Mumbo says low demand contributed to the discontinuation of the production line. “The issue was the uptake of the demand of the product. We would supply but most people still went for juakali. Juakali as we know is cheaper,” he said.

Part of the game plan in metallic gutters reintroduction, he says, is to counter the prices by PVC and juakali while still maintaining quality. “We are trying to match (the prices)…actually we are at par with PVC gutters,” said Mumbo.

He noted that the firm has started promoting the Rain Gain while monitoring its uptake since the PVC is still preferred in the market. “So we are trying to divert their attention to our products. Residential clients are the main target,” he said.

He roots for use of metallic gutters since they last longer - ensuring a home maintains its aesthetic appeal. “When plastic is exposed to sunlight, the degradation starts immediately. So if it was grey in colour it starts turning to something else,” Mumbo noted.

The science that metals expand when heated, he says, should make developers shun plastic gutters, noting that metals are tough and durable.

“Metal tends to withstand a lot of expansion and contraction,” he says. This is because metals, when compared to other materials, are good thermal conductors.

Metals have a high tolerance to heat, which is evident with their higher melting point compared to plastics (when exposed to the same temperatures).

This makes stainless steel more economical to use as gutters. “Metal can be used in extreme hot and cold temperatures,” plastic-concepts.com explains.

Mumbo says metal gutters are made from thicker material – 26-inch gauge – which makes it long-lasting.

When it comes to aesthetics, steel gutters manufactured by MRM come in various colours - charcoal gloss, tile red gloss and brilliant white. “PVC gutters are limited to one colour, normally grey. If you want something nice, you have to paint it,” he says.

While improving the aesthetic appeal of PVC gutters is via coating with new paint, metallic ones can be coated with aluminium-zinc, giving the gutter the look of rustless stainless steel. “The painting is a value addition that the steel will be protected against rust,” he adds.

Unlike metallic one, plastic gutters do not require lots of keenness when handling them. How metal gutters are handled during purchase, transportation to site and how they are fixed is key as they can cost more when they have scratches.

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