If you stand a few feet away from gutters, you’d probably think, “How hard is it to install gutters?” It looks straightforward enough, right?
There’s probably a little more to it than you think. The answer to how complicated gutter installation is depends on the gutters’ location, how big the project is, the installer’s level of experience, and the materials used.
Installing gutters requires attention to detail, proper design, and suitable materials. In modern construction, most gutters are seamless and require professional installation. But, smaller gutter projects can be installed by a DIYer with experience and the right tools.
We’ll discuss what it takes to install gutters on your own home.
- Industry research suggests that U.S. homeowners will spend nearly $8 billion in 2023 on gutter systems, an increase of almost $35 million from 2022.
- Gutter systems must be sized correctly for the roof and designed to reduce overflows and clogs as much as possible.
- Gutters and downspouts must be properly sealed and supported, or they may leak or overflow, causing erosion to the ground below.
- Any component of a guttering system must be corrosion-resistant, including the fasteners, unions, joints, and other connectors.
- Gutters must be installed with the correct slope, which depends on each section’s length. In most instances, gutters must slope between ¼ inch and ½ inch for every 10 feet of gutters.
Can I Install Gutters Myself?
You may be able to install some of your gutters, but you might need a helper as gutter sections can be quite long.
If your home is one level and less than 2,000 square feet in size, you can often purchase and install your own gutter system. However, DIYing your gutter system can be time-consuming and result in maintenance issues in the future.
Gutters purchased at a home improvement center are usually limited to 16 feet long, so if your home is longer than 16 feet (as most are), you’ll need to install accessories called unions to connect the sections.
These connectors cause a seam in the gutter, which is more likely to catch debris from a nearby tree, resulting in more maintenance. Most homes use seamless or continuous gutters, eliminating most mechanical connections.
What Tools Do I Need to Install Gutters Myself?
You’ll need the appropriate safety equipment, ladders, cutting tools, and materials suitable for gutter installation.
We’ll discuss working with aluminum gutters since that’s what most people use, but vinyl and fiberglass gutters are also available.
Here’s a sample list of tools you may need to install your own gutters.
At least two ladders long enough to reach the fascia boards, including stabilizers
Saw or metal cutting shears
Cordless drill with drill bits
Caulk gun and gutter sealant
Appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) as needed
Measuring tape and marker
Pop rivet gun and painted rivets
What Materials Do I Need to Install Gutters Myself?
You’ll need enough gutter to span the length of any straight section and enough downspouts to reach from the gutters to the ground.
Here’s a sample list of materials you may need to install gutters yourself, which you can purchase off the shelf:
Gutter materials, usually available in 10, 12, and 16 foot lengths
Downspouts (Note that you don’t need a union to connect multiple downspout sections.)
Downspout strap or other support for every 4 feet of vertical downspout
One union for every straight joint, plus two additional hangers (one for each side of the union)
Outside or inside corners, if the house has a hip roof
One downspout adapter for each downspout
Splash guards (optional)
Splash bricks or drainage pipe
Installing the Gutters
Installing gutters is relatively straightforward. The back edge of the gutter is mounted directly to the fascia board using hidden hangers, gutter spikes, or gutter screws and sealed anywhere there is a joint, like a union or outside corner.
Here’s the basic process the pros use to install gutters on a house, but since gutters are designed to fit the roof, most require at least some modification.
Step 1. Taking the Measurements
If the gutter section will not have unions or corners, measure the entire length of the fascia board and add 2 inches. This will ensure that water moving laterally across the roof will still reach the gutter system.
Step 2. Assembling the Section
Using metal shears or a saw, cut the section to length and install an end cap to each end of the section. Seal the ends with gutter sealant.
Step 3. Installing the Unions and Corners as Needed
If the gutter section is too short to reach the end, you’ll need to add additional length as needed. Install a union between any sections and seal the joint as directed by the manufacturer.
Step 4. Selecting the Appropriate Slope
The slope required for gutters is usually between ¼ inch and ½ inch for every 10 feet of gutter. If the gutter section is 20 feet long, the high end of the gutter will be mounted just under the edge of the shingles. The low end will be mounted between ½ inch and 1 inch lower than the high end.
If your fascia is longer than 50 feet, your fascia boards may be too narrow to allow for the appropriate slope. If so, measure to the middle of the gutter and make that the highest point. This way, the water will flow towards both ends instead of just one.
Note that you’ll need twice as many downspouts using this method, so adjust your materials list as needed.
Step 5. Installing the Fasteners
If you are using gutter spikes or gutter screws, place them carefully. Place the fasteners as directed in the instructions. In most installations, you’ll need a fastener about every four to six feet of gutter length.
However, if you also installed a union, most manufacturers require a fastener on both sides of the union within 6 inches of the joint.
Hidden hangers are a better choice than gutter spikes or gutter screws because they make a smaller hole in the fascia and can be easily relocated if needed.
Step 6. Attaching the Downspouts
Attaching the downspouts requires using a tool called a pop rivet gun. Don’t be tempted to use screws, even short ones, to connect the downspout to the downspout adapter. Doing so will allow the tip of the screw to trap debris, leading to a clog.
Step 7. Adding a Splash Block or Drain Pipe
Most building codes require the addition of a splash block or brick at the end of every downspout. The splash block dissipates the force of the falling water, preventing erosion of the ground.
In some instances, such as a home with a French drain, a drain pipe or tile will be required at the end of the downspout. The pipe serves the same function as a splash block but directs the water away from the home’s foundation.
Step 8. Adding splash guards (optional)
If your project includes any inside or outside corners, you should install a splash guard on top of the corner. Without a splash guard installed, water flowing down the roof will be re-directed by the corner, allowing some water to miss the gutters and fall to the ground.
Splash guards are pop-riveted to the outward-facing edge of the gutter directly over the corner. As the water attempts to turn at the corner, the water will splash against the splash guard and fall back into the gutter.
Now, Can You Install Gutters Yourself? Or Is There Another Way?
Only you can answer how hard it is to install gutters on your house. You can gauge a potential gutter installation DIY project based on your experience with similar DIY projects and the tools available to you.
With both under your toolbelt and proper attention to safety and best practices, you can likely do the work with success. Remember that the sections can be challenging to manage due to their lengths, so a good helper is essential.
We’re here to help if you determine that professional installation is better for your needs. Our gutter professionals can accurately measure your gutter area, inspect your home’s fascia boards, and provide a free estimate.
Professional installation often brings more peace of mind knowing that experienced and reputable gutter installers have delivered top-quality work. We also provide a warranty on all work we do. Contact us today!
Is it cheaper to install gutters yourself?
Professional gutter companies often charge upwards of $10.00 per linear foot to install a gutter system, but these systems are often warranted for as long as you own the home. Over time, the cost of professional gutter installation is comparable to doing the job yourself when you consider the maintenance and repairs required for do-it-yourself gutter systems.