How to install guttering DIY

Find out how to install guttering yourself safely to stop rain water damaging walls and foundations fast.

Wooden building with black steel rain gutters
(Image credit: Maskalin / Alamy Stock Photo)

Installing guttering isn't the most obvious of DIYs but it can be a job that you can undertake yourself. Gutters – or eavestroughs – do a vital job in keeping the rain water that falls on the roof away from walls and foundations – therefore maintaining the integrity of a house. 

If yours need replacing or installing if you're working on a new home build and if you're a competent DIYer, you might feel confident enough to take this on. With the right tools, materials and safety knowhow to prevent accidents when you’re working at height under your belt, you can save on paying for a professional installer.

How to install gutters: step by step

Gutter replacement is a job that an experience DIYer can take on, but it goes without saying that safety is crucial.

‘When installing gutters yourself, you need to take your safety into consideration first and foremost,’ says Shawn Laib, home improvement expert with InsuranceProviders. ‘Always get the best ladder for the job, and have someone outside taking a look at the sturdiness of the ladder while you are climbing on it.’

Our steps cover the installation of vinyl gutters, which are light in weight and therefore easier to install. Aluminum gutters – along with other materials – are an alternative. Aluminum is more durable, but bear in mind that as well as being heavier gutters in this material may cost a little more.

You will need:

  • Tape measure
  • Ladder (try Amazon for trusted brands)
  • Work gloves
  • Vinyl gutters, plus connectors, corners, end caps, and gutter hangers
  • Vinyl downspout outlet(s), elbows
  • Vinyl drainpipe and hangers
  • Chalk line
  • Hacksaw
  • Powered screwdriver
  • Deck screws (1.25 inch)

1. Remove old gutters

Before you start, you’ll likely need to remove old gutters and downpipes. Don work gloves, and make sure to position the ladder on ground that is firm and level. Unscrew or use a pry bar to remove, depending how these are fixed.

2. Check fascia boards

It’s important to check the fascia boards before replacing gutters. If the wood is rotten or damaged, repair or replace them as necessary before proceeding with installation of the rain gutters.

3. Measure for gutters

Before moving on, you’ll need to know how many gutter sections plus other components you will need to buy. To do this, measure the length of the new gutter run and note the position and number of current downspouts.

4. Mark the gutter slope

A slight slope is needed to avoid standing water in the gutter. Mark the gutter slope on the fascia board using a chalk line. Aim for 1/4 inch (6mm) per 10 feet (3m) of gutter.

5. Install the downspout outlet and gutter hangers

Fit downspout outlet(s) aligned with the chalk line using a powered screwdriver and deck screws. Downspouts should be located so the rain water will be directed away from the house. Note that if a corner of the house won’t have a downspout, a gutter corner should be used. 

Fit gutter hangers at intervals of around 2 feet (60cm) using deck screws and following the chalk line on the fascia board.

6. Hang gutter sections

Fit the gutter sections into the connectors and hangers. You may need to cut lengths using a hacksaw to achieve the correct size. A slip joint is required at the end of each length to connect the next section, and an end cap where there isn’t an outlet.

7. Connect to the downspout

Secure the downspout outlet to the gutter. Use downspout elbows as necessary from the outlet to the wall, the measure the drainpipe length needed to fit between here and the downspout outlet elbow, and cut to fit. Secure to the wall with brackets.

To keep them doing their job once fitted, don’t forget that cleaning gutters regularly is an essential home maintenance procedure.

Is it cheaper to install gutters yourself?

You can save by installing gutters yourself. ‘The only reason to hire a pro is if you don’t have and don’t want to purchase all the required equipment, such as a ladder and drill,’ says independent contractor and professional woodworker Ronnie Collins, of Electro Garden Tools. ‘If you already have these two, the DIY installation will be significantly cheaper than calling a professional with an hourly rate.’

However, you do need to be an experienced DIYer to take on the replacement of gutters, and aware of how to stay safe at height.

Aside from saving on labor, the cost of gutter installation will vary. ‘The size and features, condition of existing hardware and type of guttering will be the determining factors of gutter installation prices, which will also vary depending on the manufacturer,’ says Chris Counahan, President of LeafFilter.

Is it hard to install gutters yourself?

Installing gutters yourself is achievable, but it’s not a job for beginners to DIY. ‘Gutter installation is a job of a medium level of complexity,’ says Deemer Cass, gutter repairs and maintenance supervisor at Fantastic Services.

‘You would need to be relatively fit, have some practical skills, be good at measuring and calculating, and last but not least, have the right tools and safety gear. 

‘It’s worth mentioning that this is not ideally a one-person job if you’re a novice and have never installed gutters and downpipes yourself. Also, for safety reasons, you better call a friend to help you out.’

Bear in mind, though, that getting all you require for the job is straightforward. ‘You can easily access all the needed materials and tools for gutter installation at the nearest home center,’ says Ronnie Collins. 

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For Realhomes.com, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.

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