30th Apr 2024 -

Guttering protects properties from water damage by channelling rainwater away from the foundation and exterior walls. However, not all gutters are created equal. Choosing the right type makes a significant difference in performance and longevity.

This article explores the various guttering types and their suitability for different applications. We delve into the pros and cons of all options to help you make an informed decision.

10 different guttering system types

From the elegance of ogee gutters to the sleek lines of squareline designs, there are many options. This section outlines each type to consider.

1. Ogee guttering

Ogee guttering features a distinctive profile with a curved shape resembling an "S" or an ogee moulding. The curved bottom allows for better water flow, reducing the risk of clogging and minimising standing water. Ogee gutters are commonly made of aluminium, copper or galvanised steel. Copper is considered the most premium and longest-lasting option.

Best applications: Ogee gutters are an excellent choice for traditional and historic homes, as well as properties with a more ornate architectural style. 

Average lifespan: Aluminum (20-30 years); copper (50+ years); galvanised steel (15-25 years).

2. Squareline guttering

As the name suggests, squareline guttering has a square or rectangular profile for a clean, modern look. Their straight lines complement contemporary architectural styles. A squareline gutter is typically made of aluminium or vinyl. An aluminium gutter is the more durable option.

Best applications: Squareline gutters are well-suited for modern homes and commercial properties where a sleek and minimalist appearance is desired.

Average lifespan: Aluminum (20-30 years); vinyl (10-20 years).

3. Roundline guttering

Also known as half round guttering or round gutters, roundline guttering has a semi-circular shape. This design allows for efficient water flow and reduces the risk of debris accumulation. Roundline gutters are commonly made of aluminium, copper or galvanised steel. Copper is the most expensive but longest-lasting option.

Best applications: Roundline gutters are versatile and complement both traditional and modern architectural styles. They are often used in residential properties but can also be found in commercial and industrial settings.

Average lifespan: Aluminum (20-30 years); copper (50+ years); galvanised steel (15-25 years).

4. Downpipes

Downpipes, also known as leaders or downspouts, are vertical pipes that connect to the gutters and carry water away from a building's foundation. They come in various materials, such as aluminium, vinyl, copper and galvanised steel. Downpipes can be either round or rectangular.

Best applications: The choice of pipe material and shape depends on the guttering system and the overall appearance. Round downpipes are commonly used with roundline gutters. However, rectangular downpipes complement squareline gutters. Copper downpipes are used in high-end residential and commercial properties for their durability. 

Average lifespan: Matches guttering material longevity.

5. Seamless gutters

Seamless gutters are custom-fabricated on-site from a continuous roll of aluminium or copper coil. Unlike traditional sectional gutters, seamless gutters have no joints or seams. This reduces the risk of leaks and potentially extends their lifespan. They are available in various profiles, including half-round and fascia-style.

Best applications: Seamless gutters are suitable for both residential and commercial properties. Particularly larger buildings that require long, uninterrupted runs of guttering.

Average lifespan: Aluminium gutters (20-30 years); copper gutters (50+ years).

6. Box gutters

Box gutters, also known as valley gutters or eavestroughs, are rectangular-shaped gutters. They are designed to be installed along the roof's valleys or eaves. Box gutters are typically made of galvanised steel or aluminium and can handle larger volumes of water. This is because of their wider and deeper profile.

Best applications: Box gutters are commonly used in commercial and industrial buildings with flat or low-sloped roofs, as well as in areas with heavy rainfall.

Average lifespan: Galvanised steel (15-25 years); aluminium (20-30 years).

7. Built-in gutters

Often referred to as integral gutters, built-in gutters are designed to be part of the roof structure itself. They are typically made of the same material as the roof, such as concrete, slate or metal guttering. Built-in gutters offer a seamless and visually appealing appearance, blending in with the overall roofline.

Best applications: Built-in gutters are commonly found in historic buildings. They are also used for modern properties where a clean, integrated look is desired.

Average lifespan: Concrete (50+ years); metal (20-50 years based on material).

8. Zinc gutters

These gutters are a premium option known for their durability, longevity and attractive appearance. Zinc is a naturally weathering metal that forms a protective layer. This makes it highly resistant to corrosion and rust.

Best applications: They are often used in high-end residential and commercial properties, particularly those with a contemporary or modern architectural style.

Average lifespan: 60-100 years. 

9. Cast iron guttering

Cast iron gutters are a traditional and long-lasting option. They are incredibly durable and resistant to rust, corrosion and fire. Cast iron gutters are known for their strength and ability to guard against tough weather conditions. Their weight and sturdy construction also make them less susceptible to damage from debris.

Best applications: Cast iron gutters are well-suited for historic buildings, traditional architectural styles and properties where longevity and durability are prioritised. They are commonly found in high-end residential and commercial properties, as well as heritage restoration projects.

Average lifespan: 50-100 years.

10. Plastic guttering

Commonly made from vinyl or PVC, plastic gutters offer an affordable and light alternative to metal systems. While not as durable as some other materials, plastic gutters are resistant to corrosion and rust.

Best applications: Plastic gutters are popular choices for residential properties and outdoor shed structures. They are easy to install and require minimal maintenance compared to metal options. However, plastic may not be suitable for harsh climates and may need frequent replacement or guttering repairs.

Average lifespan: Vinyl (10-20 years); PVC (20-30 years). 

What is the difference between soffits and fascias?

While soffits, fascias and guttering are all critical components, they have different functions. It is essential to understand the roles of each element to ensure proper installation, maintenance and overall protection.


Fascias are long, straight boards that run horizontally along the lower edge of the roof line. They serve as decorative trim and a structural component, offering a solid surface for attaching gutters and other roof accessories. Fascias are typically made of wood, vinyl, aluminium or fibre cement. They can be painted or finished to complement the appearance of a property. 


Soffits are the underside of the overhanging portion of the roof, covering the area between the fascia and the side of a building. They play a crucial role in ventilation, allowing air to flow into a loft space while preventing moisture buildup. Soffits are commonly made of vinyl, aluminium or fibre cement. They can be vented or non-vented depending on the ventilation requirements.

How to install each gutter system

The installation techniques may vary depending on the type of material, design and application. Below, we outline the best installation practices for each gutter type.

Ogee gutters 

  • Use hangers or gutter brackets specifically designed for ogee gutters, as standard hangers may not provide adequate support. 
  • Consider using threaded rods or straps for additional stability. 
  • Precise measurements are necessary to accommodate the curved shape. 

Squareline gutters 

  • Square guttering can often be installed using standard gutter installation methods. This makes them a more straightforward option. 
  • Use gutter hangers or brackets designed for the specific dimensions of the squareline profile. 
  • Ensure proper spacing and alignment to maintain clean, straight lines.
  • Install with a consistent slope to promote proper water flow and prevent standing water.

Roundline gutters 

  • Roundline gutters require careful handling during installation to maintain their curved shape. 
  • Use specialised roundline gutter hangers or brackets that cradle the curved profile.
  • Consider using internal or external gutter straps for added support. 
  • Accurate measurements are key to ensuring a smooth, continuous curve. 


  • Downpipes should be securely attached to the building's exterior using appropriate fasteners and hangers, spaced according to manufacturer recommendations.
  • Use downpipe straps, brackets or hangers compatible with the material and shape (round or rectangular) of the downpipe. 
  • Ensure proper slope for efficient water flow and direct the water away from the building's foundation.

Seamless gutters 

  • Seamless gutters are custom-fabricated on-site using specialised equipment like a roll-forming machine. 
  • Use hanger or bracket gutter accessories designed for the specific profile and material of the seamless gutters.
  • Proper measurements and on-site fabrication are important to ensure a seamless, continuous run with minimal gutter joint connections.

Box gutters 

  • Box gutters often require specialised installation methods because of their size and weight.
  • Use heavy-duty gutter hangers or brackets capable of supporting the weight of the box gutter when filled with water.
  • Consider using internal or external reinforcement straps.
  • Proper slope and drainage outlets are essential to handle the high water volume.
  • Installation may require additional structural support.

Built-in gutters 

  • Built-in gutters are integrated into the roof structure during construction or renovation.
  • They are typically secured using specialised brackets and fasteners or by embedding them into the roofing materials.
  • Proper waterproofing and flashing techniques are crucial to prevent leaks. 
  • Access for maintenance should be considered during installation.

Zinc gutters 

  • Use gutter hangers or brackets designed specifically for zinc gutters.
  • Standard gutter fittings may not provide adequate support or cause galvanic corrosion. 
  • Proper soldering techniques are necessary to create watertight joints.
  • Expansion/contraction rates should be accounted for during installation.

Cast iron gutters

  • Cast iron gutters require robust installation methods because of their substantial weight and potential for thermal expansion/contraction. 
  • Use heavy-duty gutter hangers or brackets capable of supporting the weight of cast iron. 
  • Consider using additional reinforcement straps or rods.
  • Proper slope and drain outlets are essential and installation may require additional structural support because of the weight.

Plastic gutters

  • Plastic gutters are often installed using standard gutter installation methods, making them suitable for DIY or professional installation.
  • Use gutter hangers or bracket fixings designed for the specific dimensions and material of the plastic gutters.
  • Ensure compatibility to avoid cracking or damage. 
  • Be sure to follow manufacturer guidelines for spacing and fastening. 
  • Plastic gutters may have different expansion/contraction rates than metal options.

How much maintenance does guttering require?

Neglected gutters lead to clogs, leaks and potential water damage. The maintenance requirements and techniques may vary depending on the type of guttering material and design. Here is a breakdown of maintenance considerations for each system.

Gutter typeConsiderationsMaintenanceFrequency
OgeeThe curved profile can trap debris easily.Use a gutter scoop/trowel, flush with a hose and inspect for clog or leak damage.At least twice a year (spring and autumn).
SquarelineProne to standing water if not properly sloped.Check for low spots/sagging, adjust hangers and clean with a power washer.Twice a year and after heavy storms.
RoundlineThe curved shape reduces debris buildup but can still clog.Use a gutter scoop/brush, flush with a hose.At least once a year; more if near trees.
DownpipesCan clog with debris from gutters.Use a plumber's snake/auger; install gutter guards.Twice a year or as needed for repair work.
SeamlessThe lack of seams reduces leaks but can still sag.Use a cleaning tool/power washer; adjust hangers.Twice a year and inspect for sagging.
BoxThe wide shape accumulates more debris.Use a sturdy scoop/trowel and flush with a pressure washer.At least twice a year or more if near trees.
Built-inChallenging access for maintenance.Use a specialised gutter vacuum/blower and inspect for cracks/separations.Annually and inspect for damage/leaks.
ZincDevelops protective patina that can stain.Use a soft brush and mild detergent, avoid abrasives.Check once a year for patina buildup.
Cast ironHeavy and potential for rusting.Use a wire brush for rust, apply primer/paint and use a trowel.Inspect annually; clean twice a year.
PlasticCan crack or become brittle over time.Use plastic-safe cleaning solutions; inspect for damage and seal cracks with compatible gutter sealant.Annually and after severe weather.

Can you buy different guttering profiles?

Yes. ​​At Building Materials Nationwide, we pride ourselves on offering an extensive range of high-quality guttering materials. Our selection includes profiles like ogee, squareline and roundline designs. We work with leading manufacturers to ensure our guttering systems meet the highest standards.

Trade customers are invited to open a convenient trade account with us, streamlining your procurement process. By opening a trade account, you enjoy competitive trade pricing, dedicated account management and fast UK delivery. Our knowledgeable team is always on hand to offer guidance. Sign up for instant access or contact us for a chat.

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