Buying and Caring for Plastic Gutters

The old adage “good things come in small packages” is very apt when speaking of protecting your home from damages. Minor details, often overlooked, are usually the ones that provide the greatest payoff in the future. This is certainly the case with gutters.


A guttering system includes the trough-like attachments found on the edge of a home’s roof that are designed to collect and direct water away from the vital sections of the house. It is ordinarily constructed from galvanized or cast iron, plastic or vinyl, copper, aluminum, metal or wood. Plastic gutters are recognized as some of the most widely used in homes due to their relatively low cost, low maintenance requirements and durability.

To determine the best guttering system to meet your requirements, it is helpful to familiarize yourself with the pluses and minuses of different kinds you can choose from.



The earliest forms of gutters were made out of wood. These have slowly lost their appeal because of their susceptibility to rotting. Nowadays, the most commonly seen guttering found at homes are plastic gutters.   Aluminum gutters are also popular, although they require a bit more maintenance and cost more.  Copper gutters are expensive, and although they add to the appeal of some home styles, they are not for everyone.


Usually a plastic gutter is made out of vinyl or some type of plastic composite. They are the most prevalently used gutters by homeowners due to several factors.

First, plastic rain gutters are easily sourced online or at your local home improvement stores. They can be bought in practical kits that come with simple do-it-yourself instructions that eliminate the need to hire professionals. Gutters made of aluminum, copper and galvanized or cast iron may require skilled handling.

Second, plastic gutters are comparatively more affordable than copper and cast iron or steel, or even aluminum.   This cost difference can really add up when you are guttering your whole house.

Another great advantage of using a plastic rain gutter is its uncomplicated upkeep. Unlike gutters made out of metal or alloys, they are not subject to rust or oxidation. If not appropriately cared for, the most common setback encountered in the use of plastic gutters are cracks or breaks caused by extreme environments. This can easily be solved with the application of a sealant or glue.   Use of plastic gutters may not be a wise choice in locations prone to extreme temperature fluctuations, however.


Plastic rain gutters are composed of several basic components, including the gutter sections, downspouts, splash blocks and elbows. The gutter section is a sloped piece of tube or canal that directs water from the edge of the roof to the downspouts in order to drain. The downspout or down pipe is the vertical section of the gutter where water flows to a drain or splash block and then runs off away from the house. The splash block, also known as the downspout extension, is located at the end of the downspout and keeps water from pooling near the foundation. Lastly, the elbow is a curved or angled gutter piece used to join sections at corners or bends.

If you are installing plastic gutters yourself, you can either buy all of the pieces separately, or you can buy them as a kit, which is easier.  Once you have purchased a plastic gutter kit, you’ll then have to assemble all of the components together and attach them to the edges of your roof and sides of your home.


Before you do this, make sure that you have the proper tools and gear ready. Basic tools you will need to install your plastic gutters include the following:

  • Ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • String and carpenter’s levels
  • Power drill and screwdriver bits
  • Fine tooth hacksaw
  • Galvanized screws
  • Vinyl or plastic gutters, hangers, connectors, elbows, downspouts, drop outlets, corners

The next steps simply involve following the directions in your manufacturer’s manual which comes with your plastic gutter kit.   Make sure the proper angles are used so that water naturally runs down into the downspouts, and make sure the gutters and downspouts are all secured to the house properly.


Once installed, plastic gutters can typically endure up to 10 years or more, or even for the life of your house, if properly cared for. But this requires regular care and maintenance that is frequently overlooked because of the time and effort it takes. Fortunately plastic rain gutters entail lower maintenance to keep them working properly than other gutter types.


Just follow a few simple tips to keep your new plastic gutters working optimally.

First, clean your gutters twice a year, ideally during spring or fall. Regular gutter cleaning is important, no matter what type of gutters you have.

Second, check for sagging, water pooling under gutters, flooding or leaks, damages on paint siding,trim or house shutters (which would indicate that water is running down the side of the house) and clogged downspouts.

Since you are using plastic or vinyl gutters, you shouldn’t have a problem with rust, but if you are using metal screws or attachments, you may have to check for rust there.

Third, remove any loose debris using a hose or if necessary a plumber’s snake. If it the debris becomes unmanageable, you might want to consider installing a screen or plastic gutter guards.  If you continually find that your gutters are becoming a home for local birds to nest in, you may want to install some plastic bird spikes right along the edge of the gutters to keep birds out and stop their nests from blocking the flow of water in your gutters.

Always make sure that you have the right tools and gear during the maintenance of your plastic gutters. You will need a ladder, gloves, a garbage can or heavy-duty trash bag, a garden hose, safety glasses and a garden trowel for your gutter cleaning tasks. Make sure to secure your ladder on an even surface and keep it securely against the roof. As an added precaution, always try to work with a partner.

There are numerous options when it comes to choosing a guttering system for your house, but plastic gutters have quite a few benefits, including low cost, low maintenance and ease of installation.All reasons that make a plastic gutter system one of the most popular types chosen by homeowners today.