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Comparing Aluminium to the alternatives

Brian Bell, our Head of Technical Services, looks at the key areas of differentiation between aluminium rainwater solutions and alternative systems.

When it comes to specifying a rainwater system, there are a number of factors that installers need to consider, and several different material options to choose from.  With customers regularly approaching merchant staff for advice during the specification process, it is important that staff understand how the different systems can vary in terms of performance and installation. This will ensure installers specify only high-quality rainwater systems that meet their project’s requirements.


Rainwater systems are constantly exposed to difficult conditions due to their important role in preserving a building from the elements. Cheaper materials with a shorter lifespan can end up being more expensive to maintain in the long run, regularly requiring maintenance before being replaced entirely.

While materials such as PVC are less durable and prone to becoming brittle and cracking, marine-grade aluminium systems possess a functional life expectancy of 50 years or more with minimal maintenance. Alternative guttering systems such as cast iron and galvanised steel also offer greater durability than PVC; however, both materials require regular treatment with corrosive-resistant primers in order to ensure their longevity.

Conversely, marine-grade aluminium systems feature a naturally occurring protective oxide layer that prevents corrosion or rust, without the need for treatment. Plus, if the material becomes damaged, this oxide layer automatically reforms to provide continuous protection. However, ensure you recommend only marine-grade aluminium products, as lower quality aluminium is unable to provide the same level of oxide layer protection and will eventually corrode.

Ease of Installation

While durability is arguably the most crucial consideration for a guttering system, the installation process is also important. Although PVC gutters can be appealing due to their light weight and ability to ‘snap’ together at the joints, durability suffers as a result. In contrast to this, cast iron guttering solutions offer a higher level of durability, but are heavy, inflexible and often require multiple specialist installers and tools to ensure the system has been fitted correctly.

For installers, marine-grade aluminium offers a lightweight and easy to install solution, which is also incredibly durable. Providing excellent strength to weight ratio – up to 65% lighter than cast iron – there are also ‘snap fit’ aluminium solutions for quick and simple jointing that are easy to handle and install.


With the construction industry’s continued focus on environmental impact, and many homeowners also seeking more sustainable solutions, a growing number of installers will be looking for systems that can be recycled when they eventually reach the end of their usable lifespans.

As one of the most sustainable building materials currently on the market, aluminium is infinitely recyclable without losing its quality. In fact, an estimated 75% of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. In comparison, PVC and cast iron solutions can be recycled but there is a loss in quality unlike aluminium.  


When specifying a guttering system, its aesthetic as part of the wider project is often taken into account. Merchants are ideally positioned to help find the exact colour finish needed. With some manufacturers able to provide colour plates on request, the recommendation process is made even easier.

For customers that are looking to effectively maintain the colour and gloss of their aluminium guttering systems, architectural grade polyester powder coating paint (PPC) can do just that as it offers unrivalled colour stability and excellent colour retention.

Adding Value

The design of some bespoke guttering systems can be a complex task and additional support over and above that which a merchant can provide. Manufacturers such as Marley Alutec are on hand to provide technical support and site visits when needed. From water run-off calculations to flow rates to practical advice, it is crucial that merchants have the backing of a trusted manufacturer with adequate customer support when recommending its products.

We offer technical advice and support from initial design to installation, to discuss your project call 01234 321996 or email 

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