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Add Beauty with a Copper Gutter

Gutters serve a practical purpose. They collect rainwater running off the roof and redirect it away from the building’s foundation, preventing leaks and water damage. Gutters and downspouts can be made from several metals, including aluminum, galvanized steel, and stainless steel, and from wood or vinyl. Generally they are installed to be unnoticeable. A copper gutter, however, can make this utilitarian item an attractive architectural detail.

A copper gutter is attractive. Gutters can be embossed in a wide range of patterns, often chosen to give an Old World atmosphere to the house. A smooth copper gutter often has a sculptural quality.

Additionally, a copper gutter is an ecologically sound choice. Copper is 100 percent recyclable, and the gutter system can be made entirely from scrap copper salvaged from other usages. Copper also has an exceptionally long useful life. Archeologists found part of a water plumbing system from the Pyramid of Cheops in Egypt, and the copper tubing was in serviceable condition after more than 5,000 years.

A copper gutter will not discolor from algae or mold growth. Seagoing vessels use a copper-containing paint for hull protection, and earlier ships often had a copper sheathing that protected against barnacles and other kinds of biofouling.

Copper gutters and downspouts can be installed as half-round sections or with the same rectangular shape as aluminum gutters. Gutter leaderheads, straps, and braces can be plain or can be given highly ornamental forms, sometimes combining copper with other metals for greater effect. Antique copper leaderheads and braces are sometimes collected for their beauty.

A copper gutter should be installed by a professional installer who has experience with the material. It is easy to burn copper during installation, and builders often choose to use an iron rather than a torch. The oil from human hands will leave lasting marks on raw copper, so most coppersmiths wear clean gloves while working.

A copper gutter does not require painting, because copper does not rust. Unsealed copper is a living surface. It ages to a warm, rich brown with hints of blue and purple in dry conditions and a greenish color in moist or acidic conditions.

A copper gutter will usually form a natural patina in five to seven years in industrial and seacoast atmospheres. In rural atmospheres, patina may not reach its fully oxidized state for ten to fourteen years. In arid environments, the patina may never form completely. Once the patina has developed fully, it is very stable, and no further weathering will occur.

Some people prefer the bright salmon color of new copper. This color can be preserved by sealing the copper gutter with a clear polyurethane or lacquer. The sealant will have to be freshened periodically.

The greatest drawback to a copper gutter is that it is appealing to thieves. Copper is 100 per cent recyclable, and scrap copper brings a good price. Thieves have been known to steal copper gutters, downspouts, leaderheads, and braces from occupied buildings.

Add beauty to your home by installing a copper gutter.

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