Rain gutters and downspouts are a vital part of the exterior of your home. They help gather rainwater and carry it away from the structure of the house to maintain its integrity.
Otherwise, the dampness and moisture may weaken the foundation. Plus, there’s also the chance the water may leak into the basement, ruining any wooden framework or electrical outlets. This can cause mold.
While it’s more common for professional builders to do the gutter installation, there’s no reason why you can’t do it yourself. All you need is a reliable guide to walk you through the process, which is precisely what we’ve provided for you here.
So, keep reading to learn everything about installing gutters in just a few basic steps.
Before you prepare the necessary tools and hang the gutters, let’s start preparing for the project itself. First, you need a layout. That can be a small piece of paper with the measurements of your roof.
Since gutters are 10ft in length, you can figure out the number of pieces you’ll need using the measurements from your layout.
Gather Your Materials
Here’s a list of the tools and equipment you’ll need for this project.
- Extension ladder
- Tape measure
- Needle nose pliers
- Miter saw
- Chalk line
- Aviation snips
- Pop rivet gun
- Ladder brackets
- Aluminum scaffold plank
- Hole saw bit (4 inches)
- Twist drill bits
- Socket set with hex bits
- Speed square
How to Install Rain Gutters in 6 Easy Steps
Follow this user-friendly step-by-step guide to get your gutters ready.
Step 1: Fasten Fascia Brackets
Start at one end of the gutter run. Mark this as the highest point on the fascia one and a quarter inch underneath the metal drip-edging.
Now, you’re going to reduce the slope by half an inch for every 10 feet of gutter run. Whatever the distance is, you’ll need to drill in a chalk line at about every 16 inches.
Next, drill a pilot hole nearly 1/8-inch in diameter into the fascia and the rafter tail. This is where you’re going to fasten the fascia brackets that will hold up the gutter. Make sure you use quarter-inch stainless steel lag screws. They’re long and sturdy enough to effortlessly penetrate both the fascia and rafters.
Pro-tip: to get the lag screws to drive through these layers with ease, rub a bit of soap on them.
Step 2: Cut Gutter Sections to Desired Lengths
Measure the length of the gutter run on each side of the house. Then, cut each gutter section to the desired size using either aviation snips, a 12-inch power miter saw, or a hacksaw,
If you prefer to have the gutter wrap around the house, you’ll need to cut the edges at a 45-degree angle at each edge to ensure proper fitting.
Alternatively, individual gutter sections should overlap by no less than eight inches. Afterward, you can join them with stainless screws, pop rivets, or 3/8-inch self-tapping screws.
Whichever method you use to secure them, make sure they’re placed at equal distance apart in two rows of four for maximum stability.
Pro-tip: always place rivets or screws on the sides of the gutter. Never place them on the bottom where rainwater can gather and make puddles.
Whenever you connect two pieces together, always use a sealant around the joint connectors to avoid future leaking. The same goes for 90-degree angles, downspouts, and end caps.
A great tip would be to screw a couple of rivets on each side of the joint connectors for added rigidity.
Step 3: Cut Out Holes for the Downspout
For this step, you’ll be cutting holes to connect the downspout outlet to the gutter. First, lay the gutter face-down on the ground.
Next, place an outlet on top of the low end of the gutter and trace the inside of the outlet. This is where you’ll cut a hole to attach the downspout to the gutter at each corner.
Then, right in the center of this circle you just drew, drill a quarter-inch hole. Finally, flip the gutter over and cut out the hole with a 4-inch diameter hole saw chucked into a drill.
Pro-tip: a cold chisel and a hammer will also do an excellent job of cutting out the hole, but it takes longer and needs a bit more elbow grease.
Step 4: Attach End Caps
End caps are put in place when the gutter doesn’t wrap around the trimming. These aluminum caps are spherical in shape to ensure efficient water flow.
Fasten the end cap temporarily in place using a single sheet-metal screw. Next, drill a 1/8-inch diameter hole and put a pop rivet in place to replace that temporary screw.
Pro-tip: to ensure a long-lasting seal that’s water and weather-proof, cover the rivets and seams on the end caps with siliconized caulk. This high-quality sealant will bind the surfaces together, making them better at handling the elements.
Step 5: Install Rain Gutters
When hanging the gutters, make sure you don’t hang your gutters too high. For the high side of the gutters, it’s best to leave about 4–5 inches from the top of the roof and slope towards the downspout.
One thing you can do to help you install the gutters is to use the chalk line. It’ll give you a nice clean line to follow.
The rule of thumb is to have the gutters drop about half an inch for every 10ft of gutter length.
The easiest way to install gutters is to lay them into the fascia brackets. Next, rotate the gutter until its back edge slides into hooks on the back of the brackets.
After that, find the screw-mounting hole in each bracket. Then, fill a 3/16-inch diameter hole on the front edge of the gutter.
Finally, secure everything in place using a one-inch #8 32-stainless steel machine screw and top it off with a flanged nut.
Use strip miters to connect any two gutter sections. These aluminum strips usually come with a 90-degree bend, which fits over the gutter seams and makes it more efficient to join the pieces together.
Start by wrapping each strip underneath the gutter. Keep them in place with sheet-metal screws or pop rivets. If you want to make them waterproof, cover the joints with siliconized caulk.
Pro-tip: aluminum gutters can be spray painted. You can pick any color to either match or contrast the house trim.
Step 6: Connect Downspout to Gutter
The final step is to connect the downspout with both the gutter and fascia. First, fasten the downspout outlet to the gutter with four pop screws or rivets.
Next, screw in the downspout elbow to attach the downspout to the gutter. Using another elbow, brace it against the house. After that, cut a piece of downspout to fit in between the two elbows.
If you need to crease the edges, use a pair of needle-nose pliers. Finally, fix the downspout to the side of the house with downspout brackets and pop rivets or screws.
Pro-tip: use two brackets for a one-story house and three for a two-story house for maximum stability.
Place a final elbow piece at the bottom of your downspout to ensure that water sheds away from your foundation.
That’s it! You’re done with this project.
Available Types of Gutters
To start a gutters project, there are three types you can choose from, you can go for vinyl gutters, aluminum gutters, or steel gutters.
There are various colors to choose from, saving you the time of painting them to match your house.
Vinyl Gutters are popular because of their lightweight and affordable price. Although the light weight makes transportation and installation easier, there’s a downside.
The light weight of vinyl gutters can cause them to sag, crack, or in some cases, break if they’re constantly subject to heavy rain and snow over the long run.
That said, vinyl gutters don’t require a lot of maintenance. Since they don’t rust or corrode, you’ll have fewer dents and scratches in your gutters.
Aluminum gutters are another lightweight and durable alternative for your house. They’re lighter than steel gutters, and because it’s aluminum, you won’t have to worry about rust forming on your gutters. What you need to keep a look out for is corrosion.
Corrosion can be a problem if you live near the coast since your gutters are continuously exposed to moisture and salt.
Aluminum gutters can withstand heavier amounts of rain and snow compared to vinyl gutters. Although aluminum won’t sag over time, heavy snow or hail can cause dents or damage your gutters.
Steel gutters are by far the strongest alternative among the three options. These big boys can withstand extremely heavy conditions, such as falling branches, hail, ice, and snow. You can lean your ladder against it and it’ll withstand the test.
Choosing the best option for you will depend on the climate in your area, whether it’s snowy, hot, or coastal.
Main Components of Gutters- A Plan for a Complete Project
When shopping for a gutter, the big box stores typically sell gutters in 10ft lengths. So, you’ll need to connect several parts to complete the house’s layout. If you’re looking for longer gutters that would fit a whole side. You can have them custom-made for you.
For the parts you’ll need, we’ll divide them into three sections: the gutters, the drain, and the hardware section.
The Gutters Section
Gutters: These are responsible for collecting water off of the roof and will be set along the sides of your house
Joint connectors: Joint connectors are the parts that connect two of them.the 10-foot gutters
90-degree angles: The part that connects two gutters at a 90-degree angle. This way it can be fabricated to fit your layout
End caps: These fit at the end of the gutters to block water and channel it to drain through the downspout
The Drain Section
Downspouts: The pipe that runs water down from the gutter to the ground or a rain barrel, depending on your personal preference.
Downspout channels: The part that connects the gutter to the downspout.
Elbows: You’ll need elbows to maneuver your downspout to fit your layout.
The Hardware Section
This section includes the main parts to hang, strap, or secure gutters and downspouts
Hangers: This one speaks for itself. Because that’s how the gutters will hang to your house
Strapping: To strap the downspout to the sidings
Hardware: Gutter screws, rivets, and nails are the hardware that goes into hangers to finally complete your project.
Knowing how to hang gutters can protect your home from rain and water damage. Installing gutters can take a little bit of time, but once you get the hang of it, gutters can be an easy project to tackle on your own.
All you have to do is create a layout, then you can start shopping for the parts accordingly.
Remember to consider the weather conditions when deciding on the material for the rain gutter.
Once the layout is ready and you choose your material, all you have to do is start the assembly and it should be done in no time.
To ensure your gutters last as long as possible, you have to do a bit of upkeep and maintenance. Remove leaves and debris from your gutters at least twice a year. Also, keep an eye out for any leaks or loose connections.