Copper Gutters


Copper gutters are a timeless, durable complement to your slate, clay tile, or metal roof. The russet shine of new copper or the well-aged patina green can be a robust, highly functional and unobtrusive addition to your home’s exterior, or a striking conversation piece that is as beautiful as it is useful.

Unless you live in a desert, gutters are an essential component of any home structure. They help to remove water from the exterior, draining it away from the foundation of the building. There are many styles of gutter available to match the needs of the structure as well as elevating it’s curb appeal and market value. Common gutter materials include aluminum, steel, and copper. Aluminum and steel gutters provide an effective solution but can be unsightly and require maintenance over the course of their service life – aluminum gutters may need to be resealed at the joints periodically and steel gutters require painting every 5-7 years with a rust prohibitive paint. Copper gutters are considered a lifetime product and do not require routine maintenance such as painting or sealing.

The Durable Slate Company installs a variety of historically correct gutter profiles in order to maintain the integrity of a property. All of our gutters are soldered by hand to ensure a waterproof, long lasting seal at the joints, end caps, and downspout outlets. Expansion joints – a bridge between two gutter segments – are an essential component when a long run of gutter exists. Expansion joints allow for the segments of gutter to move freely during expansion and contraction; without them, solder seams can break and the metal itself can tear thus causing leaks to occur.

, Copper Gutters

, Copper Gutters

Over time all things copper acquire a patina –first turning a rich brown and then that classic green-brown-blue coating. This coating forms when copper is exposed to oxygen and other pollutants. It’s a carbonate layer that, unlike rust, actually protects the underlying copper from corrosion. This protective skin accumulates year after year, and contributes to copper’s overall resistance to corrosion.

Because the chief job for any gutter is to channel water away from the home, rust is an automatic problem. But copper is more resistant to corrosion than aluminum, and significantly more resilient than steel. Copper gutters are well suited against abusive marine environments or cities with acid rain and can outlive their metal siblings with ease. As cities grow and climate change brings more rain, a robust copper gutter system can almost-effortlessly protect your home from future storms.

If maintained throughout their life-cycle, your copper gutters might last four times longer than an aluminum equivalent. This is in part due to copper’s natural durability, but also the attention these gutters deserve as a premium building material. This is no throw-away afterthought and deserves skilled installation and routine maintenance in order to perform optimally. But if attended to, copper gutters can last anywhere from sixty to ninety years (or longer).

Without proper maintenance, leaf build-up and other debris can trap moisture against the metal,  accelerating corrosion. Moreover, clogged gutters and downspouts won’t drain properly and can cause interior leaks at walls and foundations as well as washing away landscaping. In colder temperatures, a clogged downspout can fill with water which can then freeze and cause the downspout to burst. The Durable Slate Company suggests annual gutter and downspout cleanings to keep them clear and avoid any potential leak issues.

a beautiful close up of a copper gutter and patina green roof with sunset

Experience is Key

In short: Copper gutters that have been installed properly, with attention to infrequent, but regular maintenance, can last for 60-90 years. Possibly as long as a century. Copper gutters are a natural and sensible complement to any natural roof, but especially slate. A beautiful stone roof is made more lovely with well-made copper gutters. They frame the edge of the roof, drawing the eye upward, bringing attention to the layers of slate, copper flashing, and other embellishments.

Commercial gutter installers frequently mistreat copper as though it were aluminum, ignoring its unique thermal properties. Copper will swell and contract as it heats and cools, more so than aluminum or steel. Without the proper placement of expansion joints – seams in the metal that give room for the metal to move – the copper can apply considerable force as it swells, fracturing itself. Moreover, an amateur installer might use caulk or caulk hidden behind a copper cover to seal joints. Caulk obviously won’t last as long as the copper, requiring frequent touch ups and related repairs. For these and countless other reasons, an experienced hand is key when working with copper.

It’s worth repeating that poor craftsmanship will greatly reduce the life-expectancy of your copper gutters. And because the role of gutters is to remove water, anything that compromises their effectiveness can cause water to invade vulnerable sections of your roof. This might result in leaks and other costly water damage.

The Durable Slate Company’s award winning artisans have the patience and expertise necessary to install or repair copper gutters of any kind, common or custom, on any home or building. Our employees are trained in-house by our Quality Control team, made up of historic roofers with more than 60 years of combined experience. Not only are our technicians trained in historic repairs and installation, they each receive comprehensive safety training and continuing education as our company is committed to meeting or exceeding all OSHA guidelines.

A Durable Appeal

Moreover, The Durable Slate Company only uses an innovative lead-free solder to seal joints for maximum durability and long-term aesthetic appeal. Most gutter installers use a lead based solder, which produces harmful fumes during installation and can eventually leech into nearby water systems, gardens, and farms. In contrast, we take our environmental responsibilities seriously and have worked hard to develop and extensively test lead-free solders that provide equal or better durability for lasting beauty. The exclusive use of lead-free solder puts The Durable Slate Company on the leading edge of environmentally friendly copper installers.

We also offer comprehensive quality control to ensure each project has been completed per the contract specifications and that all aspects of the repair meet our quality standards. Our quality control inspectors check solder seams for a complete seal; proper placement and number of expansion joints; correct pitch of gutter to ensure adequate drainage; and scrutinize the outward aesthetics of your copper gutters for maximum beauty. Homeowners are also provided with a certificate of completeness for every project to keep for their records.

As a naturally sourced, durable material, copper has a high re-use potential and rarely finds itself abandoned to a landfill. There’s simply too much value in recovering and recycling copper for it to go to waste. As such, its life-long environmental impact is minimal, making copper a very green choice for the environmentally minded homeowner.

west virginia church with copper gutters

recently installed copper gutters and red slate shingles