When selecting appropriate rainwater and eaves products for a property, there are a variety of considerations to take into account including performance, aesthetics and sustainability. Brian Bell, Head of Technical Services at Marley Alutec highlights some of the most popular materials and outlines the benefits of marine grade aluminium.
Rainwater and eaves products are crucial components for the building envelope, and should they fail to perform, can be costly to refurbish or replace. Failure could also potentially lead to significant property damage. When selecting a rainwater system, it is important to remember that not all products will perform in the same way and of course, just like other building products, will vary in quality.
Firstly, durability is crucial. Rainwater systems are designed to be left for long periods after installation. Yet, the level of durability varies widely depending upon the selected solution. While some materials provide longevity and peace of mind to both housebuilders and homeowners, others require regular refurbishment and eventual system replacement due to a shorter functional lifespan.
For instance, PVC systems will need to be replaced at least once during a property’s lifetime and although cast iron will last longer, the system would require maintenance every ten years in order to prevent degradation. Alternatively, high quality marine grade aluminium products offer the best of both worlds, providing a functional life expectancy of up to 50 years with no maintenance requirement aside from periodic cleaning.
There are further benefits for properties installed with marine grade aluminium rainwater and eaves solutions. These products will provide superior strength and corrosion resistance from a naturally occurring oxide layer, which reforms should its surface ever become damaged. Lower quality aluminium alternatives are unable to provide the same level of oxide coating and in turn will show signs of corrosion over time.
The aesthetic of a rainwater system also plays an important role. Bringing the exterior elements of a building together, the right rainwater system can provide the final visual touch to a project, whether it is acting as the key transition between walls and the roof, complementing or contrasting the fenestration or framing the front profile of the property.
High quality aluminium solutions can be supplied in a wide range of colours and profiles, with polyester powder coatings to enhance its colour stability and give low maintenance and attractive finishes. Aluminium rainwater manufacturers also use these coatings to accurately replicate the aesthetic of traditional cast iron gutters and downpipes, should that be the preferred design style.
Lowering environmental impact is of course a key concern for housebuilders and developers during the design and construction process. The good news is that aluminium has excellent credentials in this area. As one of the most sustainable building materials available, aluminium can be infinitely recycled without ever losing its quality. In fact, an estimated 75 per cent of all aluminium ever produced is still in use today. Aluminium rainwater solutions can be fully recycled at the end of its extended life cycle.
Once performance and design issues have been considered, understanding the installation process is next on the agenda. By selecting products that are simple and efficient to install, projects can be completed at a faster rate. The lightweight of PVC systems makes them useful for working at height whereas cast iron is significantly heavier and often requires multiple installers to carry out a single installation. Aluminium systems are approximately 65 per cent lighter than cast iron, with some manufacturers offering fascia and soffit systems with H-section joints to perfectly imitate PVC systems to make them as easy to install.
Finally, leading manufacturers should offer full technical support to help resolve any project challenges and Marley Alutec is ideally placed to provide expert advice on any project from conception to completion. This can include the provision of water runoff calculations, carrying out site visits and advising on any bespoke options required.