Gutters are a key part of most home exteriors, particularly in regions that regularly face inclement weather. Gutters protect the home and its foundation from erosion caused by rainwater buildup. Installing gutters is a project of moderate difficulty, but with the right instructions, tools and plenty of time, it is something a beginner DIYer can take on.
Gutter Installation Prep
Before installing your gutters, you must first inspect the fascia and soffit and make sure they are free of rot. These are the areas on the side of and below your roof's overhang. Any wood showing signs of rot will need to be replaced before you can move forward with installing gutters. Once you've assessed that the fascia and soffit are in good shape, you can move on to prepare for the installation.
If you have a crown molding or some other type of trim board nailed to the fascia, you'll need to either remove it or nail a flat strip of wood along the facing side. This will create a flat plane where you can nail the gutters.
First, you'll need to measure your house and site the locations for your downspouts. Measure and write down the length of all the rain gutter runs, making note of where you are going to be installing the downspouts. The downspouts are piping setups where the water from the gutters will collect and be deposited on the ground. They should be placed at corners where they will drain away from the house and away from any back patio or deck structure that could be damaged by water or flooding. Avoid placing downspouts facing the sidewalk. Aesthetically, you'll want to place the downspouts somewhere relatively inconspicuous.
Next, make a mark on one end of the fascia to indicate the highest point in the gutter run. At the other end, or at the downspout location, make another mark, indicating the low end of the gutter run. In order to keep the water moving along the gutters and into the downspout, you need to make sure that the downward slope of the gutter is about half-an-inch for every 10 feet of the run.
Next, install gutter brackets along the run, by fastening them with lag screws into every other rafter tail. Once they've been installed in accordance with the correct slope, you can begin to cut the gutters themselves. You can use a hacksaw or a mitre saw to get the gutters to the correct length. Be sure to add an end cap at the end of each run if the gutter doesn't turn a corner. It's a good idea to seal end caps with caulk to prevent any leakage and ensure that it's watertight.
Lay the gutters into the brackets and secure. Cover the seams between two pieces of adjoining gutter with a three-inch wide strip of aluminum (known as a strip miter), and secure. Add siliconized caulk to make the joint even more secure.
To install a downspout in the run, measure the diameter of the downspout outlet and use a four-inch diameter hole saw to cut a hole of the correct size in the surface of the bottom of the gutter. Insert the downspout outlet into the hole and secure it to the gutter with screws or pop rivets. Now add the downspout elbow by screwing it into the downspout outlet. Add another piece of downspout below it, then a second elbow, so that the water drains away from the house. You can use pliers to crimp the elbows to fit on the downspout and then secure it with screws.
If you own a one-story house, you should have two downspout brackets, while two-story houses should have three. As with most DIY projects, always be sure to measure twice before installation to avoid costly mistakes. Aesthetically, you can also spray paint gutters and brackets before installation so that they blend in or contrast with the house's exterior, adding a pop of color and style.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience working in the home, design and interiors space.