10 Best Gutter Alternatives that are Affordable, Durable and DIY-friendly

By Jon Jachura

Gutters play an important role in protecting your home from water and foundation damage. However, sometimes they can be expensive and difficult to install, or they just don’t match the look of your home. Thankfully, gutters aren’t the only rainwater management system for homes.

This guide looks at several affordable, durable, and DIY-friendly options, so keep reading to learn about the ten best gutter alternatives.

Top 10 Best Gutter Alternatives for Your Home

There are many alternatives to gutters, but finding the best one for your home is crucial. The solutions below are great gutter alternatives. Depending on where you live, the grading of your property, and the environment around your home, one solution may be better than the others. And you might choose a combination of two or more for your home’s rainwater management system.

1. Drip Edge

Most homes have a drip edge whether or not they have gutters. They are always along the edges of the roof or shingles, and they are critical in keeping water from running down the fascia boards and soffits and causing wood rot.

So, instead of the rainwater trickling off your roof and flowing down the fascia and along the siding, the water drips directly downward (assuming there aren’t windy conditions). Drip edges aren’t a complete solution to rainwater management, but they are a vital part of any water management system, whether it is a gutter or a rainwater management system below.

If you have a drip edge with no rain gutters, you may consider adding another rainwater management system to help control the water. But if you have gutters, ensure they are in good shape, and the drip edge is properly installed and working correctly.

2. Drip Path

Drip paths are another great alternative to gutters. A drip path is made up of large pavers or blocks that you install in the ground directly along the roofline. You angle the block downward and away from your home, and they help direct water away from the house.

You can make drip paths from a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, or even concrete. Plus, they are simple to install around the perimeter of your home. Homeowners commonly use drip paths along with a drip edge to create an effective rainwater management system for their homes.

3. Underground Rain Chain

An underground rain chain is a great way to collect rainwater and direct it away from your home. This type of system has two major parts – above-ground rain chains that attach to the edge of your roof and a below-ground drainage system that carries the water away from your home.

The above-ground rain chains come in a variety of styles and materials, so you can find one that fits the look of your home. Plus, they are easy to install and don’t require any major changes to your roofline. The below-ground drain system is usually best for professionals to install, but it is a relatively simple and straightforward process.

4. Above-ground Rain Chain

An above-ground rain chain works exactly the same way as the underground version, except it lacks the below-ground drainage system. These rain chains attach to the edge of your roof and direct water away from your home to collect water in a rain barrel or into a french drain.

5. Ground Gutters or French Drain

A ground gutter also called a french drain, is a type of rainwater management system that is installed underground along the perimeter of your home. It collects rainwater that falls off your roof and directs it away from your foundation to help prevent flooding and water damage.

Ground gutters are usually made of PVC or other types of plastic, perforated pipes, and a professional or most DIYers can install them. The installation process is relatively simple but requires a lot of digging. However, french drains are an effective way to protect your home from water damage.

6. Box Gutters

Box gutters are a type of gutter that is part of the roof, usually along the edge. Historical homes built in the late 1800s to early 1900s often have them. They are also common on flat homes and commercial buildings with flat roofs.

A box gutter system helps protect the roof and the fascia boards from water damage by channeling rainwater away from the home. However, they don’t hang from the roof edge like traditional regular gutters. Instead, they are part of the roof itself. This makes installing them extremely expensive on an existing roof because you would need to remodel the roof entirely. But, they are larger and less prone to clogs and blockages.

7. Yard Grading

Proper yard grading and landscaping around your home can help prevent water damage by directing water away from your foundation. When your home is graded correctly, rainwater will naturally flow away from the foundation and towards the street.

Most rainwater management experts recommend grading your yard, so it slopes away from your home at a rate of at least 6 inches for every 10 feet. This will help ensure that water flows away from your home and doesn’t pool around the foundation and damage it.

8. Rain Dispersal System

A rain dispersal system, like Rainhandler, is a type of louver system that helps direct rainwater away from your home and into the ground. Instead of collecting rainwater and diverting it to a downspout, the rain dispersal system uses a series of curved louvers installed at the roof edge to throw it into your yard.

When rainwater rolls off the roof onto the rain dispersal system, the louvers direct the water away from your home. The water then falls to the ground onto your grass, plants, etc., where it is absorbed. This helps prevent water damage to your foundation and landscaping. Plus, it puts the extra water to use instead of dumping it into the sewage system.

9. Copper Gutters

Copper gutters are technically still gutters, but they are so different from the traditional aluminum gutters that they warrant their own category. They have a distinct look that will boost the curb appeal of any home.

Copper gutters are more expensive than aluminum gutters but offer several benefits. First, they are extremely durable and will last for decades with proper maintenance. Second, they are low-maintenance, resistant to corrosion, and easy to clean. Third, copper is a beautiful metal that adds a touch of class and elegance to any home.

10. Built-in/Hidden Gutters

Built-in or hidden gutters are a type of gutter that is installed behind the scenes, so to speak. They are usually installed on the underside of the roof eaves and are hidden from view under or inside of the roof overhang.

Hidden gutters are an excellent option for those who want the functionality of gutters without the unsightly look. They are also less likely to get clogged because debris has a harder time reaching them. However, they are more expensive than traditional gutters and can be challenging to install.

How Do You Handle Rain Runoff Without Gutters?

There are several ways to handle rain runoff without gutters. You can choose from any of the ten options above or a combination of several. The most important factor is ensuring the rainwater is directed away from your home’s foundation. This will help to prevent any water damage and maintain the integrity of your home’s structure.

Why Some Houses Don’t Have Gutters

Some houses don’t have gutters because they are built on a slope or hill. The natural grade of the land causes water to run away from the house, making gutters unnecessary. Other homes may not have gutters because they are equipped with other means of rainwater management, such as French drains, rain chains, or splash blocks.

Some homes even use barrel systems to collect rainwater for gardening or other uses. While gutters may not be needed in these cases, it’s still a good idea for most homeowners to have a system in place to protect their homes from water damage.

Benefits of Using Gutters

Gutters are an important part of your home’s rainwater management system. They help to collect and channel water away from your house, protecting your foundation, siding, and landscaping from water damage.

Gutters also help to prevent soil erosion around your home by controlling the flow of rainwater. In addition, gutters can help to keep your basement and crawl spaces dry by redirecting water away from these areas.

Installing gutters is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your home from water damage, and they are typically easy to install yourself. If you’re not sure whether or not gutters are suitable for your home, talk to a contractor or rainwater management specialist. They can help you assess your needs and find the best solution for your home.

Do Rain Chains Work as Well as Gutters?

Rain chains are a popular alternative to gutters but are not necessarily better. Rain chains can be just as effective as gutters at directing water away from your home, but they have a few drawbacks.

First, rain chains can be noisy in heavy rains. The sound of the rain hitting the metal can be quite loud, and it may not be ideal if you live in a quiet neighborhood. Besides being noisy, rain chains can be messy too. The water flowing down the chain can splash and create puddles around your home. This can be a problem if you have landscaping or walkways near your rain chain.

Lastly, rain chains can be dangerous in high winds. The metal chains can become airborne and cause damage to your property or injure someone. For this reason, it’s important to choose a heavy-duty rain chain that is designed to withstand high winds.

Ultimately, whether or not rain chains are a good option for you depends on your needs and preferences. If you don’t mind the noise and mess, rain chains can be a beautiful and effective way to manage rainwater runoff.

Key Takeaways

There are several ways to handle rain runoff without gutters, but gutters with downspouts are the best solution. Gutters are the best in heavy rains, don’t leave pools of water around your home, and are effective at diverting water to prevent expensive water and foundation damage.

However, the ten solutions above are the best gutter alternatives. And the most important factor when installing one or more on your home is to ensure that the rainwater flows away from your home’s foundation. This will help to prevent any water damage and maintain the integrity of your home’s structure.

Gutters are an important part of your home’s rainwater management system. They help to collect and channel water away from your house, protecting your foundation, siding, and landscaping from water damage.

Rainwater management helps to prevent soil erosion around your home by controlling the flow of rainwater. In addition, it can help to keep your basement and crawl spaces dry by redirecting water away from these areas.

Installing gutters or any of the ten alternatives we recommend is a relatively inexpensive way to protect your home from water damage, and they are typically easy to install yourself. If you’re still unsure which gutter alternative is right for your home, talk to a contractor or rainwater management specialist. They can help you assess your needs and find the best solution for your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a house have no gutters?

Yes, some homes don’t have gutters, but they are the exception. Most houses have some type of gutters because they effectively channel water away from the foundation and prevent flooding and leaks. There are a few reasons why someone might not install gutters, but the most common is simply because they are not required by code.

Or, they may have other solutions for managing rainwater, like French drains or yard grading. Some homeowners also feel that gutters are unsightly and prefer the look of a home without them. Whatever the reason, if you don’t have gutters, there are still some things you can do to manage rainwater and prevent water and foundation damage to your home.

Why do modern homes not have gutters?

Many modern homes may not have gutters because they are located in dry, arid climates. In these areas, there is not as much rain, so the gutters would not be necessary. Also, some newer homes are built with materials that are more resistant to water damage and don’t require gutters for protection.

Another reason why some modern homes don’t have gutters is that they are equipped with other rainwater management solutions, like French drains, yard grading, drip edges, or other alternatives we recommend above. These solutions are sometimes more effective than gutters in managing rainwater, so there is no need for gutters.

Can not having gutters cause foundation problems?

If rainwater pools around the foundation of a house, it can lead to leaks and cracks. This is why gutters are so important; they channel water away from the foundation and prevent this type of damage. Without gutters, you will need to be extra vigilant about managing rainwater around your home to avoid any foundation problems.

Some homes are completely fine without gutters, especially if they are appropriately graded or have another means of managing rainwater. However, if you live in an area with a lot of rainfall or your home is susceptible to foundation damage, it is best to err on the side of caution and install gutters.

Are house gutters necessary?

In most cases, yes. Gutters are necessary to channel water away from your home and prevent foundation damage and other major issues. Without gutters, you will need to take extra steps to manage rainwater, like grading your yard or installing a French drain.

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