DIY Rain Gutter Installation

If you’re having issues with flooding in your home or even just water pooling up on the outside, against your house (which can lead to all kinds of problems from rot to other issues with the founation), you should really consider installing some good rain gutters on your home.  We did this recently with a number of managed rental properties we have (you can see them here on this site:, and I can tell you that now I’m kicking myself for not having done so sooner!  It was an easy job and after the most recent rainy season, I can most definitely tell you it was a very, very good investment of both time and money.

All the materials used in installing these gutters can be purchased at Home Depot or Lowes. They sell links of ten foot gutters and if you need longer you’re going to have to use a seam. You can see, there is a seam here. Professional installers have a machine that rolls out and forms exactly how much gutter link you need, so they can go forty- fifty feet easy all in one piece and not have any seems.

The one thing you have to consider when putting up your gutter is needs to drop towards the drain, about an inch every twenty feet. This gutter is just over twenty feet, but if you have a forty foot span you would need to two downspouts, so you have the high and the middle and both, left and rights sides will drop down an inch. I picked up all these materials at Home Depot, but here in Lowes you can see they have roughly the same stuff, it’s exactly the same shape.

You can also get it in vinyl, so if you want to do a plastic rain gutter system, the good thing about plastic is it is easier to cut and the ceiling you’re going to use is more like a PVC sealant, so you are not going to use the same sealant you do on the metal gutters. The first thing I am going to do is run the chalk like string all the way across the gutter and snap a perfectly level horizontal line. And this is going to be where the base of the gutter is.

Now that I have a good horizontal line, I am going to lower it one inch on the gutter side only and snap a second line. This will give me the right amount of drop so that the water flows to the downspout. To cut the gutters you can use a jigsaw with a blade, but I am just going to use my arm saw. It cuts it really nice. Next I am going to snap on the end cap and tap it on on with the hammer and then crimp it a little with some pliers, just give it a slight bit of a bent when you squeeze.

The use some gutter sealant, it’s going to be right in the same section that you buy all your other materials, you’re not going to have to go to the paint section of Home Depot or Lowes. This is what I used, it looks like silicone, but it’s not the same stuff and you can see this is the hardware that I am going to be using to attach it to the roof, just one piece of bend metal and a screw, clips and just like that, real simple.

First one I placed six inches from the end, this is one that Lowes sells, looks a little different, but it’s exactly the same. You could see it’s got a hook and it clips in underneath and just slips right on. Here I am placing a bracket, every two feet. You’ll find it’s a lot easier putting the screws in on the bench than up on a ladder, so get them started here and then bring it up. If you need a joining bracket, slip one one.

You can do this yourself if you’re holding the middle of the rain gutter and balancing it, but it’s a lot easier to start on one end and have someone else hold it. I am lining up the bottom of the rain gutter with chalk line that tapers downward and then just screw it right in. Before I screw each screw, I make sure that it’s still following the tape. Add as many segments as you need, slip them in, it seems like it’s a little easier to put this in if you angle it down first and then once the bottom part is in, you can push it up to get the top part together in the slot.

Once you do that, get some pliers and bend it and crimp the top of the joint. I use a lot of sealant on both sides. You want to feather it out, make sure you get a nice clean seal. To mark where the downspouts are going to go, I am placing my level against this edge of the wall and it’s long and straight enough to reach the gutter, so I don’t have to really measure anything. If you get a very straight beam, you can just place it right against the wall, put it up against your gutter and you are going to know where your downspout needs to go.

You are going to find this whole process to be pretty easy I think and if there is a difficult part, this would be it, cutting the hole for the downspout. Home Depot only sells this rectangular piece for the downspout. If you don’t have any way to cut it out, you can get a gutter piece here. The only downside to using one of this is you have two more seams, but other than that, it’s really clean, it might make your project go a lot faster and you don’t need to buy any extra tools.

So you might want to pick up one if this instead of cutting the downspout. They do make circular downspout drops, but I haven’t seen. Home Depot or Lowes didn’t have them and I didn’t have time on this project to order one. But if you do find one, you can use a drill saw like this and knock out a hole pretty easy. You can see it cuts a nice clean hole. You can also cut a hole with the jigsaw if that’s what you have.

Blades that are used for cutting metal, you can see here, they are kind of wavy and you’re going to need one of those. You can’t use a wood bit to cut metal, just doesn’t work. You can see, jigsaw will cut really easy. This last way is the way I would recommend. Start with drawing a rectangle, next drill a starting hole and using tin snips, cut a spiral out. If you cut thin spiral strips, you can get really close to the edge easily.

Next drill your rivet holes and put on some sealant and you can do a better job than I am doing this, this is just a demo, so it’s kind of sloppy, and stick it to the bottom of the gutter and put in your rivets. This is what it looks like, you don’t have to do a perfect job cutting the hole and it should hold up just fine. If you wondered about using tin snips to cut, they do cut the flat parts great, but when you get to the corner, it’s really hard to cut corners and keep the shape of the gutter.

So this are almost useless for doing gutters. It’s going to take way too long and bend your metal. I thought it would be good to try out a few ways to do it, so I tried this Rotozip  and it is squarely. These are great for cutting out drywall, but they are  tough to control when cutting a rain gutter. For this you are going to need a metal cutting bit as well and I am really working hard to control this blade.

It is the fastest way to do it, but I am not kidding when I say it is hard to control perfectly. Once you have your hole, you can put in your downspout drop, I am putting few holes in here for rivets. First a bit of sealant around the drop. This piece is actually made out of vinyl. It’s the only piece of vinyl in the whole job and if you don’t have rivets, you can use screws, but rivets work really well.

You can buy this riveting tool at Home Depot or Lowes, you get get a cheap one at Harbor Freight. This rivets are made our of aluminum, so they will never going to rust on you. After you put the rivets in, put on some more sealant all the way around the edge. Now I am slipping on the first part of the downspout. This one actually changes angles to match the side of the wall I am going to be mounting to.

I am going to put on one screw here, just to secure it from falling down. This is just as easy to cut, I am just using a circular saw again, not even a special blade. To mount into the masonry or hardboard, clapboard or even wood, you can use these plastic expanding anchors, you slip one of these in and when the screw gets placed inside, it expands the plastic and grips really tight. This is a metal strap that’s going to hold the downspout to the wall.

Now I am kinking the ends here so I can fit it inside the last piece. It’s a little difficult how it it folds in on itself. So for every piece, the piece above has to go inside the piece below it, otherwise water will flick right out of the connections. I am going to place another little screw here, just to stop this for slipping off. You can see the piece above it’s already pre kinked on this end and it slips right into the one below it.

Again, the one above goes inside the one below. You can bend this straps over and just just a couple of galvanized screws in, galvanized means they are not going to rust on you. For this downspout I only need two straps to hold it on. Here is where you have options. In this case, all I am doing is adding a section of drain pipe to keep the water from pulling right at the foundation.

Another way is to use this corrugated drain pipe, it gets buried underneath the ground and you can have a pop out, when the water comes down the gutter, it floods out here, keeps it all away from the house. My name is Adam, if you have any questions, let me know, I will do my best to answer, it’s a really easy process, I don’t think anybody would have trouble doing this, just give yourself a full Saturday and have some fun. Thanks, and good luck with your project!

Kevin Mills