Rain Gutter Installation: A How-To Break Down
Rain gutters are an essential tool to protect a home against water damage. A high-performing gutter installation will catch increased volumes of rainwater and eliminate excess water from collecting around your home, leading to wood rot and structural damage.
However, completing a gutter installation or gutter replacement can be daunting. There are many decisions to make, including whether or not to install gutters yourself, if gutter guards are necessary and if seamless gutters may be the best choice.
Here, we’ll provide a step-by-step overview outlining the gutter installation process. We’ll also break down the pros and cons of various gutters and features.
The Purpose of Rain Gutters
Rainy days aren’t just dreary. A downpour could jeopardize your home and landscape if you don’t have the right gutter system in place.
Excess water can seep into structural areas, weakening walls and damaging exterior home elements. Once water penetrates, it leaves a risk for moldy attics, basement leaks, roof rot, and other costly yet avoidable headaches.
A complete drainage system will include seamless gutters that guide water into a downpipe, “also known as a downspout,” leading to a drainage system that directs water away from the property.
How much does gutter replacement cost?
The cost to install gutters can be much lower if you’re willing and capable of doing it yourself, depending on the type of material. Although, installing seamless aluminum gutters requires skill and equipment.
Gutter replacements provided by professionals can range from $3 – $6,000.00 for a mid-sized home. The price per linear ft varies from $6 – $40, depending on the gutter material and layout, while sectional gutters will cost $3 – $15 per linear foot.
Expect to pay more for copper gutters and other metals. The number of fasteners, elbows, and accessories will also affect the installation price.
Seamless gutters, individually tailored to fit a home, are a type of gutter system created by professionals who use equipment to fold metal sheets into a custom fit. This method is more expensive as it requires a gutter company, but seamless gutters have more rigidity, are less prone to leak, and are available in numerous colors.
Are Gutter Guards Worth It?
Some homeowners opt to install gutter guards to prevent leaves, twigs, and other debris from collecting in gutters which can ultimately form blockages and prevent the free flow of rainwater from the roof to the downspout.
While professional stainless steel micro-mesh gutter guards can be effective long-term, gutter all guards require occasional maintenance. If not cleared of debris, the added weight from build-up on the gutters can damage the cover or lead to gutter sagging and clogging.
How to Install Rain Gutters
Before starting a DIY gutter installation project, you should first check the fascia — the board mounted where the roof meets the outer walls — for rotted wood or damage. It would be best if you made any repairs or adjustments before the gutter installation or gutter replacement begins.
A gutter installation will require gutter material, fascia brackets, and at least one downspout. Power tools and other supplies are also necessary and depend on the scope of each project.
Step 1: Measure the roof and mark the points
- Mark the highest point about 1.25 inches below the flashing on the fascia (flashing are the metal sheet pieces that protect the walls of the building from water damage.)
- Map out a slope that drops about half an inch for every 10 feet the gutter extends.
- Drive a nail into the highest and lowest points, then attach a chalk line to both ends. Snap the caulk line to mark the proper slope around the home.
Tip: Grab a friend to help with this part of the process.
Step 2: Collect the gutter installation materials
Choose a gutter width based on how often it rains where you live. Wider gutters are ideal for rainy climates that require an extra layer of protection from water damage. We recommend a 5 – 6 inch gutter where applicable.
- Be sure to get more than enough gutter material to cover the length of your home’s fascia.
- Purchase one fascia bracket for every other rafter tail.
- Calculate the proper amount of downspouts. If the length of your fascia is longer than 40 feet, multiple downspouts are necessary.
Tip: The easiest way to install a downspout is to buy a gutter piece with a pre-installed outlet.
Step 3: Mount gutter installation brackets
Before putting up your gutter fascia brackets, you’ll need to decipher where the rafter tails are. Rafters are usually spaced 16″ or 24″ inches apart.
- Mark a chalk line on the fascia on every other rafter tail.
- Create a ⅛-inch-diameter pilot hole on each mark.
- Attach fascia brackets with 2-inch or longer lag screws.
Tip: You can rub lag screws with soap before inserting them, making it easier to drive them through the fascia and into the rafter tails.
Step 4: Measure and cut the gutters
- Measure and mark the gutters to fit your home.
- Cut the gutter to size on a flat surface using a heavy-duty hacksaw or heavy-duty tin snip.
- To prevent leaking, attach end caps to the raw edges with screws and cover with a silicone sealant.
Tip: When cutting gutters that will run around a corner, cut the ends at a 45-degree angle so the pieces can easily bond together with a strip miter.
Step 5: Mount the gutters to the brackets
- Once in position, rotate the gutters upward until the edge closest to the fascia fastens into the hook or the back of the bracket.
Tip: If you’re struggling to get the gutter in the proper position, take it off and start over. Before rotating it, make sure the edge closest to the fascia is under the fascia bracket hook.
Step 6: Secure gutters into place
- Drill a 3/16-inch-diameter hole in the outfacing edge of the gutter through the screw-mounting hole.
- Attach the gutter to the bracket with a 1-inch-long #8-32 stainless steel machine screw and flanged nut.
- Use an electric drill to drive (stainless steel, hex head, sheet metal screws) through the back of the gutter into the fascia. Place a screw every 2 feet.
- Check to make sure the alignment of the gutter follows the chalk line.
Step 7: Install downspout to gutters through the outlet
- Install the downspout into the gutter outlet and ensure the tapered end of the downspout is facing the correct direction to drain correctly.
- Apply sealant to the connection seams between the downspout and connector.
Tip: You can join a PVC downspout to divert rainwater into the ground to ensure water stays away from your home.
Step 8: Add rain barrels to your gutters
- Lay concrete paving stones directly under the downspout.
- Place a rain barrel on top of the stones.
- Install a diverter in the downspout, positioned over the rain barrel.
- Connect a garden hose to the overflow port on the side of the barrel and direct it, so it empties where you want.
Gutter Installation From Professionals
If the process of installing gutters is something that you are not ready to take on, hiring a gutter company will save a lot of back pain. Also, installing gutters can be dangerous relating to falls and injury.
This article is merely a guide for you to understand the process better. Additional details, tools, and extra steps may be involved with whatever system you decide to install yourself or have installed by a gutter company.
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