Plastic, stainless steal or copper rain chains? Find out which material is the best choice for you when deciding what type of rain chain to purchase.
Rain chains are quite unique but not very common in the West. If you have no idea what it is, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Not everyone knows what a rain chain is or what it does. But if you’re the type of person who has a knack for home improvement and loves to personalize, rain chains are definitely something you might be interested in.
What are Rain Chains?
The concept of rain chains comes not only from aesthetic purpose, but also functionality. Gutters and exterior pipes are very important for the home because they help keep the flow of rainwater organized. This prevents the entry of rainwater into the ceiling and wall slabs, preventing leakage inside the house. The standard pipes used for gutters and downspouts are PVC. But the Japanese thought of something that can substitute these pipes, and these are what we call rain chains.
Rain chains are made from different materials and despite their name, they don’t necessarily need to be in the shape of a chain. In fact, the interesting thing about rain chains is that they require creativity. You can make almost any shape into a rain chain. You can even use ornamental shapes like cups, flowers, bells, and so on.
Materials Used to Make Rain Chains
If you love DIY projects, you might be thinking about making your very own rain chains. There’s also a wide variety of designs that you can find online. When making or buying rain chains, it’s important to consider the material that they’re made of. After all, the chain comes in very close contact with water, and there are plenty of materials out there that don’t mix well with liquids.
Another thing to consider is the sound of the chain. One fun side to having rain chains is having a chime when it rains. When water passes through the chain, it creates a tinkling sound. If you want to have this feature on your rain chains, then you have to use the right material.
There are three common materials used for rain chains: copper, plastic, and stainless steel. Below is a table that shows how each one differs from the other.
|Weight||Moderately heavy||Very light||Very Heavy|
|Durability||High Resistance||Low Resistance||High Resistance|
|Weathering||Darkens due to air exposure||Grows mold when exposed to water||Darkens over time|
Based on the table, it’s easy to conclude a few things.
One, if you’re after the cheapest material, plastic is definitely your choice. However, because of the low quality of material, plastic rain chains can easily get broken or damaged. This material is also very prone to mold and mildew when exposed to water. Apart from that, plastic doesn’t create the bell-like sound that metal rain chains can make.
Two, if you have a high budget and you’re looking for something that will last longer than your lifetime, stainless steel works best. It’s very heavy and expensive but it’s very durable. You may consider attaching it very securely onto your gutter since it’s heavy and may fall down due to its weight. The surface of stainless steel also darkens as it becomes exposed to weathering.
Three, if you’re after a durable, affordable, aesthetically pleasing and lighter alternative to stainless steel, copper is your answer. The brownish gold tinge of copper is a pretty sight and adds an antique touch to your home. It also doesn’t rust since it doesn’t have any iron in it, but as it gets exposed to air, it can get a darker shade. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Most antiques have this color characteristic and it makes your rain chain even more elegant.
Why Copper is Your Ideal Choice
Of these three, copper is the favorite among homeowners and architects because of its cheap yet durable material. It’s also very flexible and malleable and can be made into all sorts of designs. Even the simplest and most generic rain chains look good when made with copper. Below is a simple rain chain design made of copper rings. It’s simple yet elegant and very pretty.
Since it’s a metal, copper has the bell-like ring that makes rain chains just like chimes. When water passes through the chains, it will definitely give you an earful! Just remember that during long rains, it can be unpleasant to have the chains clanking all night long, so you may opt for a different material depending on your weather and/or location.
Another bonus when using copper is the environmental safety. Copper emits much lower carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) than other metal alternatives. Although it may have a higher CO2 emission than plastic, the benefits outweigh the risks since plastic is also a pollutant. Copper is organic and biodegradable, unlike plastic which clutters the environment. It is also much easier to create copper products because it has the lowest level of embodied energy among other materials, including plastic.
Copper is a very abundant mineral and the resources are plenty and wide. There’s no scarcity which is also a reason why it’s very affordable. This common mineral is used for many different industrial merchandise and it’s non-toxic because of its organic nature.
While rain chains may come in a wide variety, using copper for making them offers a number of benefits. It’s cheap, durable, environment friendly, and aesthetically pleasing. It fulfills all of the purposes you want your rain chains to achieve. For the best rain chains, it’s ideal to buy from a reputable source who offers well-crafted items made of pure copper. This will surely be worth every penny.