Having metal guttering fabricated to order is one of the best ways to ensure your home has efficient roof drainage, allowing you to fit guttering manufactured to fit to your home as closely and securely as possible. However, you have a few difficult choices to make when specifying a custom metal gutter order, and one of the most difficult is choosing which metal your gutters will be made from. You have a range of choices here, each with their own performance characteristics, so make sure the metal you choose is best suited to your needs before handing over your money.
Stainless steel is a remarkably durable material, combining the strength and longevity of regular steel with virtual immunity to rust and corrosion caused by moisture. Despite its strength it is also light and quite easy to work with; as such, it's one of the best choices if you want your gutters to be easy to fit. The smooth surface of stainless steel also minimises the chances of clogging, especially during autumn months.
Unfortunately stainless steel is also considerably more expensive than regular steel, and fitting an entire house with stainless steel gutters can be an expensive endeavour. You should also bear in mind that stainless steel is quite shiny, and cannot be coated with paints or powder coatings easily, so you may find that stainless steel gutters do not suit more traditionally styled homes.
Like stainless steel, aluminium combines the strength and toughness you'd expect from metal gutters with excellent rust resistance, forming a natural layer of oxide over time that prevents surface corrosion. Aluminium is also light, even lighter than stainless steel in fact, and can be fitted very easily. Despite being so comparable to stainless steel it can also be picked up for a lower price, although this will depend largely on the metal suppliers and/or fabricators you use.
However, while aluminium is quite robust it is more susceptible to damage and denting than other metals, and aluminium gutters can take quite a beating from errant ladders and other damage. Any damage that is inflicted on your gutters may also be difficult to repair due to the difficult processes involved in welding aluminium, and you may find it easier and cheaper to have damaged sections replaced instead.
Copper guttering is seen less and less these days due to the rising price of copper on the metal market, but if you can afford it you should seriously consider opting for this unusual and striking choice. Aside from its remarkably unique looks, which blend in well with a wide variety of architectural and design choices, copper is also immune to corrosion, forming a rust-proof patina on its surface with a distinctive blue-green tinge that many find attractive (it can, however, be easily removed if you don't desire the patina look). Copper also has natural antimicrobial compounds which can prevent the buildup of mould and unpleasant smells in corners and downspouts, particular during autumn when your gutters have to contend with falling leaf litter and organic materials.
As for the downsides, copper's high price has already been mentioned. In addition, copper is not the most robust metal by any means, and falling ladders, roof tiles or flashing can cause severe damage to exposed pipes and joints. Unlike aluminium, copper is somewhat easier to repair, but repairs still cost time and money, and replacements can be very expensive. You should also bear in mind how visible your guttering will be from the road or path outside your home, as copper guttering can make an attractive target for scrap metal thieves.