A splash of colour

The red rainwater system at the Prince’s Houses on the Dumfries Estate complements the colour of doors, frame work and eaves, to create an eye-catching look.

While typically discussed for interior spaces, a well thought out colour scheme can make a notable difference to the exterior of a property. Here, Brian Bell, head of technical services for Marley Alutec discusses the importance of colour when considering a rainwater system and how the vibrancy and uniformity can be maintained throughout the building’s life.

Although often at the bottom of the design agenda for a rainwater system, guttering aesthetics should be acknowledged as a crucial consideration, as choices made can dramatically affect the final appearance of a building. Rainwater systems can tie a property together, and if the colour specification of a rainwater system is overlooked an important aesthetic opportunity to bring all the exterior elements together will be missed.

Guttering, fascia and soffits are for houses what frames are for paintings. Aesthetically, they tie together the walls and roof, create the edging for the front profile and offer the opportunity to complement or contrast the fenestration. A well thought out rainwater system can therefore add the ideal final touch of colour to a building’s design.

Traditionally, buildings have always been developed with dark-coloured rainwater systems in cast iron and, later, plastic. However, newer aluminium systems now offer strength, corrosion resistance, durability, and sustainability with lower lifetime maintenance costs – some even offer near zero-maintenance life expectancy of up to 50 years or more.

The use of aluminium rainwater systems has also altered the market with regards to aesthetics as aluminium’s ability to hold and maintain a coloured coating without touch-ups is far superior to that of cast iron. Many aluminium systems are coloured using a polyester powder coat (PPC) paint, which is designed for colour durability and reduced maintenance, holding colour and gloss levels for longer. There are a wide variety of PPC colour options available for rainwater systems, allowing for a more effective and eye-catching finish on a new build or renovation.

Older rainwater systems can be particularly tricky to renovate without disrupting the existing aesthetic as they often use cast-iron, which has a distinctive appearance. However, where a traditional look is desired, there are products available on the market which perfectly emulate the appearance of traditional cast iron pipes. Cast-iron rainwater systems are costly to replace and heavy, requiring a lot of maintenance, so alternatives that can address these issues and maintain the appearance of cast iron are attractive to developers. Such products deliver the authentic historical appearance required on listed buildings or in conservation areas, but without the drawbacks associated with such a heavy and high-maintenance material. Furthermore, by using an aluminium alternative with an architectural grade polyester powder coat paint finish, the system is fade resistant and does not require repainting, unlike cast iron.

However, as a rainwater system can be an eye-catching feature for any building where a traditional look is not enforced for conservation purposes, there are many colour alternatives on the market. Some manufacturers will even produce bespoke colour schemes for a client. Bespoke colouration allows users to match their rainwater system to an existing wall colour for a streamlined, unified look.

Alternatively, having the rainwater system and fascia a different colour to the walls, can provide a striking contrast and frame a building. Where a subtle colour scheme is desired, white eaves and guttering can work well with a lighter palette. Alternatively, a strong dark shade can accentuate the contrast and create a striking design which can be further tied in with window frames and doors.

A colour scheme can also have an applicational purpose; for example, educational and rehabilitation facilities, especially those designed for young children, may wish to incorporate bright and vibrant colours to stimulate the senses and create a friendly environment. Externally, a dash of colour on the rainwater system can be a great way to incorporate some colour into a building’s aesthetic, which can again be easily tied in or complemented with coloured additional trim, fenestration and fixtures.

Furthermore, guttering can be used to subtly highlight a colour important to a location, while also adding a striking design feature. An example of this can be seen at the Prince’s Foundation’s Prince’s Houses, built to promote ecological construction methods and located on the Dumfries Estate in Scotland.

The homes were built according to the Prince’s Foundation’s Natural House model, which is designed to achieve high standards of sustainability through the careful selection of materials, while simultaneously maintaining a focus on traditional design. Made from highly corrosion resistant marine grade aluminium, the specified Marley Alutec rainwater system delivered the required combination of environmental performance and classic visual appeal, utilising a special-order PPC paint designed to match the red of the Dumfries Estate’s official colour scheme. The striking rainwater system also reflected the choice of doors, frame work and eaves creating a traditional look with a contemporary eye-catching twist.

Rainwater systems are often overlooked as an insignificant building feature; however, they have the ability to add an additional element to the aesthetics and frame the existing design. Whether the location and status of the building denotes a traditional colour scheme, or a building would benefit from a dash of colour, considering the most appropriate colour for the guttering is important and should not be sidestepped. With high-quality, long-lasting paints on the market, incorporating an eye-catching rainwater system is now a feasible option as homeowners can be assured that the finish will survive the test of time.