I am looking at replacing a downspout and possibly some gutters. Currently I have the usual rectangular white aluminum downspouts and gutters.

My concern with those is that they have limited capacity, so in heavy downpours they can overflow. Also, they are kind of flimsy.

Are there better options that would represent an upgrade disregarding cost?

Several options I have thought about are: clay pipe for the downspouts, copper gutters and stainless steel gutters. In Europe I have seen clay/terra cotta downspouts, but in the US I do not see them. Is there some practical reason why they should not be used?

  • 1
    In the US aluminum downspouts come in different sizes (at least 2"x3" and 3"x4"). Gutters also come in sizes (4", 5" and 6"). What size do you have now? Mar 29 '16 at 22:44
  • The current size is 2" x 3"s Mar 29 '16 at 22:55
  • 3"x4" downspouts would have double the cross-section, which, although probably not double the capacity, would substantially increase it. Mar 29 '16 at 23:53

Hands down, Stainless Steel. The hardest thing to dent out of all the choices, it has a good deal of spring where nothing else does. It won't turn ugly nor ever need paint & comes in a number of wall thicknesses, get as thick as you're willing to afford. All of the same profile choices are available, something with a face profile will dramatically increase the durability. SS will hold up to ladders & everything else the best.

Since you've noticed an overflow or possibly a Run-over issue with your current gutters, then definitely go up another size...an inch more in both height & width. Also, make sure your current gutters aren't more than an inch below the roofing edge, & that your roofing edge is no further than halfway across the gutter width. These would be the cause of Run-over. Don't skimp on screws, hangers or downspouts either. You'll never ever have to replace a single thing.

  • 1
    This was my thought; I'd think it's unlikely that gutters which are properly hung would overflow. More likely it's runover.
    – DrewJordan
    Mar 30 '16 at 12:53

You can use a thicker gauge material, but I disagree with the other answer and would steer away from stainless steel.

If moving from aluminum, which you don't have to, one of the perks of materials such as copper, freedom gray, lead coated copper, even galvanized steel (although I don't recommend the last one) is that you can solder all joints. You can solder stainless, but it is extremely hard in vertical seams, near impossible, so you can forget about soldering. So you essentially have a much better material, but the same riveted / screwed / caulked joints.

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Another thing to think about is reflection. You would need to try to get a finish on stainless that would not be extremely reflective like #8, but even a 2B / 2D finish will be, and that may even cause damage with heat, melting or burning things.

If you want an upgrade from regular aluminum gutters, get something custom made, in a thicker gauge, like an 0.050" or a 0.063".

Want something even better, get something you can solder like copper gutters. If you worried about the color, get lead coated copper, which can be easily painted.

Sheet Metal / Roofing Companies are specialized in this, and will help you develop profiles and custom manufacture what you need.

Normal gutter machines will not accept much thicker gauges than usual so you may end up with something custom, brake formed.

Same goes for downspouts, when brake formed, any feasible, custom size can be made.

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