How To Restore Copper Gutters

Copper gutters are attractive, durable, rust-proof, and easy to maintain, but you may notice they start to fade. When copper oxidizes, a patina forms from the reaction between the copper and oxygen. Removing the patina can be tricky, but you still don't have to replace the gutters. Copper gutters can easily be restored by following these tips.

Prepare to Restore the Gutters

To restore copper gutters, gather:

  • plastic gloves
  • extension ladder
  • rags
  • paper towels
  • plastic scoop or trowel
  • synthetic scrub pad or soft scrub brush 
  • buckets with ladder hooks
  • white flour
  • salt
  • vinegar
  • baking soda
  • copper cleaning gel
  • exterior metal paint and two-step metal primer (optional)

Set an extension ladder on even ground, so you can reach the gutters comfortably, but don't lean the ladder against them to avoid dents  The top of the ladder should come six inches over the gutters. Wear gloves to avoid getting oils on the delicate finish.

Clean the Gutters

Set a trash can below the gutter ends to catch debris. Use the scoop or trowel to clean debris starting from the end. Push the scoop or trowel at a 45-degree angle, taking care to not scratch the bottom. Move the ladder along the gutter as needed to finish cleaning.

Move the ladder to the gutter end that is farthest from the downspout. Lay the nozzle so it points to the downspout, and get a helper to turn the water on high to flush out grime. 

Polish and Paint the Gutters

To make a natural polish, combine four cups of vinegar, four cups of salt, and four cups of flour in a bucket. Hang the bucket on the ladder. Moisten one-half of the brush in the mixture.

Work the paste into the gutter using a circular motion, then rub the surface with a rag. Repeat the procedure until you remove all the patina.

If the natural cleaner doesn't work, or the gutters are very tarnished, apply a copper cleaning gel. Brush the gel on the gutters. Leave the gel on the surface according to instructions, then flush out the gel with the hose. Use the synthetic pad to remove remaining gel.

Apply a copper polish to neutralize the gel. If you apply an acid cleaner, and neutralize it with baking soda. Consider adding a clear sealant to protect the gutter surface.

If desired, brush on the two-step exterior metal primer, and let it dry. The first coat bonds to the gutter surface, and the second coat sticks to the primer. Add two coats of water-proof paint, and let it dry. Contact a gutter contractor for more help.