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How to Choose Between Cast Iron and Plastic Guttering

Both cast iron and plastic gutters and piping come with their own pros and cons. When deciding, it’s a good idea to weigh these up, taking into account the age of your property and whether the one you choose is in keeping with the age and style of your home and, in the case of listed buildings, whether it complies with the law.


 Is the Property Listed?

When a property is listed, you must comply with the law surrounding the alteration of listed buildings. This is a very important factor to bear in mind. If you own a listed building of historical interest, you are required to obtain listed building consent from your local planning authority if you wish to alter or modify it in any way. These laws are in place in order to preserve both the character and longevity of these old buildings. Plastic guttering is not an option for these properties. 


How Old is the Property?

Even if your property is period, but not listed, installing a cast iron rainwater system will undoubtedly look far more authentic than a modern PVC one. When we think of cast iron gutters, we tend to associate them with older, period properties.  Equally, cast iron guttering on a contemporary home may look out of place with the modern design of the property, especially if it is especially contemporary in its architecture. 



There is no doubt that cast iron gutters are more expensive than their PCVu alternatives. As a rough estimate, it comes in about 7 times the price. However, there is certainly a case for ‘you get what you pay for’ when it comes to rainwater systems and the materials you choose. When weighing up your options, price may well come into it if you’re on a budget. 

Something to think about though, is that cast iron lasts far longer than plastic. So, if you do choose the more expensive cast iron option, you’re not likely to have to replace it because it lasts for around 100 years. Plastic on the other hand is far more likely to break or get damaged and need replacing on a fairly regular basis. So, whilst cast iron is costly in the short term, it offers more long term stability than the cheaper, more widely available plastic.


A Cheaper Alternative to Cast Iron Gutters?

If you do have your heart set on the cast iron style, but the cost is putting you off, there is another option somewhere in between the two. A few retailers are now stocking ‘cast iron effect’ guttering. This way, although it’s not the real thing, it does a pretty good job of mimicking it and it’s significantly cheaper (and therefore not as long lasting). Cast iron effect, or cast iron style, is generally made from plastic materials, designed in the more ornate style of cast iron.