Right as rain


Sally Moores of Yeoman Rainguard outlines the choices of metal rainwater system available to self-builders, and how to decide which is best for your project

With an abundant choice of rainwater systems on the market there is certainly no lack of options in finding the right, aesthetically pleasing, products for your self-build project. With an array of materials, profiles, sizes and colours there will certainly be a style to match the design of your property.

Aesthetics, though important, should not be the only thing considered when selecting gutters and downpipes. The environment the system is going to be fitted in (e.g. conservation or heritage area), plus water flow from the roof, rainwater harvesting, snow load and lifecycles, are examples of some of the considerations which should be taken seriously to ensure you have a rainwater system which will work efficiently and last for many years to come.

It is unwise to cut corners when it comes to installing a rainwater system; it will protect your property from the ingress of water, guarding the structure against damp and water damage. Procuring a durable rainwater system that will withstand the weather fluctuations that come with living in the British Isles, yet which adds to the design of the exterior of the premises, is paramount. You’ll need a system that will not crack or discolour when the temperature rises, and one that can withstand a heavy snow load if required, without becoming misshapen, while also being the right size to take the water flow from your roof. A metal rainwater system offers a durable option which can overcome the issues mentioned above.

With an assortment of materials to pick from, metal gutters and downpipes allow style and function to co-exist – as the quick overview below shows.


Available in an attractive paint or mill (raw) finish, aluminium rainwater systems complement both the traditional or modern house. The range of gutter profiles, pipe shapes and sizes along with a choice of colours and ornate accessories such as ear bands, will help tailor this product to the character of your dwelling.

A deep flow gutter can cope with high volumes of water flow from the roof, avoiding overflow and splashing. Online guides can be found to calculate flow rates from roofs, or a reputable supplier will be able to advise you.

The gutters will also be strong enough to accommodate heavy snow loads – though the addition of extra fixing brackets in areas of concern is recommended.

Look for an aluminium product which offers a joint clip fixing method on the gutters, which doesn’t require mechanical fixings or welding joints, making it both quicker and easier to install. It can also offer 30 years maintenance free service, UV stability and 100 per cent recyclability.


This classic rainwater system which has been popular since the 1700s is acceptable for use on listed and heritage buildings. Cast iron offers durability with a 40 year or more life expectancy, however a small amount of maintenance such as repainting can further extend this.

A range of traditional gutter profiles and decorative ear bands along with the addition of stylish rainwater hoppers can ensure that the feel of old and historical buildings are reflected in the use of a cast iron rainwater system.

It is 100 per cent recyclable, and when oxidising cast iron produces iron ashes which being carbon based aid the growth of green and planktonic life, helping to counteract the effects of global warming.


These materials are chameleon like, changing patina over time and adding depth and colour to the rainwater system. They are a great choice for structures that are timber clad, oak framed or indeed garden houses whose exteriors also change colour as the wood ages, adding to their beauty.

The attractive patina caused by oxidisation also functions as an exceptional natural defence against the elements, making them a good choice of material to be used on coastal properties where erosion by the salt in the atmosphere can be a concern.

Copper gutters and downpipes have proven durability, having been used successfully for many generations offering an almost unlimited life service. A natural, truly sustainable and 100 per cent recyclable material, copper also acts as an algaecide and fungicide, helping to keep moss and lichen growth to a minimum, proving to be a maintenance free system. It’s also a great choice for those wanting to harvest rainwater.

A zinc or stainless steel rainwater system will bring a contemporary feel to self-build projects, again having outstanding durability and requiring minimal maintenance.

These rainwater systems are made from lightweight materials and do require a little more care to be taken when delivering and installing, with the use of gloves at all stages a necessity.

Sometimes there is more to selecting a rainwater system than meets the eye, so to ensure that your gutters and downpipes don’t let you down, take time to do a bit of investigation into what’s available.

As well as trade shows and online blogs, a reputable manufacturer/supplier will have an experienced team on hand who will be able to discuss options with you and let you have samples of products, materials and colours, free site surveys, and itemised, clear quotations.

Sally Moores is marketing manager at Yeoman Rainguard