Roofer contractor on a ladder is installing, repair, replacing a roof gutter, fitting the union bracket joining the lengths.

How to Install Gutters: A Step-by-Step Guide

Home renovations are a time-consuming but necessary process if you’re a homeowner. You’ll be faced with choosing between DIY repairs and hiring a professional for any given job. Properly-installed, functional gutters and gutter guards will pay substantial short- and long-term dividends. No matter where you live, a gutter system will be needed at some point to drain water away from your home and foundation. We’ve got you covered if you’re opting for the DIY route.

Materials Needed

If you haven’t taken on a project like this in the past, it can all seem overwhelming. However, the list of tools you’ll need is relatively basic. Temporary rental of specific power tools, such as the miter saw, are available from most home improvement stores. 

You’ll want to buy about 10% to 15% more than you think you’ll need when purchasing materials. For any project to go smoothly, providing some insurance for mistakes is necessary. 

Tools

  • Aviation snips
  • Hacksaw
  • Pop rivet gun
  • Cordless drill
  • 24′ – 28′ ladder (28-foot ladders can reach the roofs of most two-story homes)
  • Socket set 
  • Miter saw
  • Chalk
  • 4-inch hole saw bit
  • Tape measure
  • Silicone glue and a caulking gun 

Gutter Components

  • Gutter (usually 5 inches wide)
  • Downspout lengths (typically 3″ x 4″ or 2″ x 3″)
  • End caps
  • Corner joints
  • Hanging brackets
  • Downspout brackets
  • Pop rivets or self-tapping screws
  • 1-inch machine or sheet metal screws (1/4 inch)
  • ¼ inch lag screws (at least 2.5 inches long)

How to Install Gutters in 9 Steps

Follow this step-by-step guide to effectively complete your DIY gutter installation. 

1. Measure Your Home and Plan Your Installation

This step is pretty simple but is important to get right. You can get a basic idea of how much you’ll need in the way of materials by pacing out or measuring your home’s footprint (outer perimeter). 

Keep in mind that gutter and downspout sections are sold in ten-foot lengths. You should plan for six to eight inches of overlap at each joint. For example, if you have a 20-foot section of gutter to install on a given side of your home, two ten-foot lengths of material will not be sufficient. The same applies to downspouts. 

Assume that each joint and downspout outlet will require the following:

  • 4 – 6 pop rivets
  • ⅛ of a tube of silicone glue

Each corner of your gutter system will require:

  • 6-8 pop rivets
  • ¼ to ⅓ of a tube of silicone glue
Contractor measuring wall before installing roof gutter downspout pipe.

2. Snap Layout Lines

Once you’ve measured your home and purchased the necessary materials, you’ll be ready to begin actual preparations for your gutter installation. The first step is to mark your gutter line on your fascia boards. Check your fascia for any damage or rot before installing new gutters.

When lining up your gutters, do the following:

  • Mark the high point of your gutter 1 ¼ inch below the low edge of your flashing.
  • Your high point should be the furthest point from any downspouts.
  • Mark your downslope with a chalk line a half-inch down for every ten feet of run until you reach a planned downspout point.
  • Mark each rafter’s tail with your chalk. This will be where your hangers attach to your fascia board.

3. Attach Brackets

After your gutter system route has been effectively plotted out, you should attach your mounting brackets to your fascia boards. 

  • Mark each planned bracket location (every other rafter tail). You can find these by looking for nail heads on the fascia board.
  • Bore 1/8th inch pilot holes through your brackets and into the fascia and rafter tails
  • Using 2 – 2.5-inch lag screws, attach your brackets to the fascia board.
A man is installing, repairing a roof gutter, fitting union bracket and screwing it to the fascia.

4. Cut Gutters and Downspouts

This step will require the most attention to detail overall. Measure out exactly how many linear feet of gutter you need while accounting for overlap and excess material needed on your corners (at least six inches per end, per corner). Using your miter saw, cut your lengths of gutter to size.

  • For all corner pieces, cut at a 45-degree angle at the very end of the section. The side of the corner joint touching the fascia will have to be flush, but a little daylight on the outer side of the corner joint is okay.
  • Different pieces of gutter should overlap by eight inches. Measure accordingly and clearly mark joining points for each section.
  • If you have to join sections of aluminum gutter downspouts, use pliers to crimp the upper section inwards. Slide the lower section onto the crimped portion. Use self-tapping screws or rivets to join your sections.
  • Adhere your downspout elbows to the bottom of each section. If you’re using vinyl or PVC instead of aluminum or steel, then you’ll need to buy downspout connectors separately. These are readily available at hardware and home improvement stores.

5. Attach End Caps & Join Sections

The ends of the gutter sections will each have an end cap affixed with either pop rivets or self-tapping screws. You’ll need four of whichever one you’ve elected to use. Use your silicone glue to seal around the edges and around the rivet or screw holes.

Joining sections with silicone glue and with your rivets or screws will also be necessary here. Gutter sealant is necessary for any non-seamless gutter and will reduce maintenance costs in the coming years.

Roofer contractor on a ladder is installing, repair, replacing a roof gutter, fitting the union bracket joining the lengths.

6. Cut Downspout Holes

If yours is a standard house and floorplan, then you’ll be adding downspouts at the corners of your home. If not, you’ll be drilling these every 30 to 40 feet. Downspout location should coincide with the low points that you measured in step two.

  • Cut each downspout hole with either tin snips or with a four-inch hole saw bit. Mark these locations before cutting with a 1/4-inch drill hole.
  • You can use an adapter like this or simply thread your downspout directly into the main gutter.

7. Hang Gutters

Now that your downspout holes are cut and your gutter sections are solidly together, you can begin hanging your gutters onto your brackets.

  • Place each section of gutter against your brackets and tilt them upwards until the hooks at the back are able to securely grab your brackets. Once in position, you can prepare to drill pilot holes in your gutter.
  • Bear in mind that this will be a time-consuming endeavor for longer sections of the gutter. Take your time to ensure that they’re hung properly.
  • Make sure that the inner edge of each corner joint is flush.
  • Drill 1/8-inch pilot holes into your brackets through your gutter.
  • Drill your one-inch machine screws into the brackets and fascia, securing your gutters in place.
  • Use silicone glue around your screw holes to ensure that they’re fully sealed.

8. Join the Corners With Strip Miter Joints

Here, you’ll be joining and sealing your corners using strip miter joints. These are three to four-inch-wide strips of aluminum that slip over both sides of each corner. See this video for a complete guide on installing strip miter joints:

  • Affix your strip miter joint to both sides of each corner.
  • Try to get your corner joint as close to fully closed as possible before using pop rivets or self-tapping screws to seal each side. Four per side is sufficient.
  • Crimp the top of the outer side of your strip miter joint over the edge of your gutter to seal it further.
  • Using your silicone glue and caulking gun, apply enough sealant to the area to seal off all screw or rivet holes and gaps in the corner. This will allow for full water flow while preventing leaks.

9. Connect All Downspouts

Your final step will be to ensure proper drainage down the side of your home and away from the foundation.

  • You’ll be using tin snips and pliers to crimp the top of the downspout into position for directly-threaded downspouts. Once there, you’ll use pop rivets to secure each in place.
  • If you’re using an aluminum or PVC downspout adapter, you’ll be crimping your downspout into that and cutting your gutters to fit this adapter.
  • Again, ensure that all joints are secured with four pop rivets or self-tapping screws and enough silicone glue to prevent leaks.
  • To keep it in place, affix downspout brackets into your siding at equal distances. Your one-inch screws should suffice for those. Two brackets are enough for most one-story homes, while three are sufficient for two-story homes.
  • Ensure that your downspouts feed into splash blocks or are otherwise channeled away from your foundation.

Why Trust House Method

  • 43 companies reviewed
  • 32 key factors analyzed
  • 1,002 homeowners surveyed

House Method’s Experts collected and analyzed 32 critical data points to identify what makes a great gutter company in the eye of the consumer. Our reviews team used this data to assess over 30 gutter providers for services provided, warranty coverage, and national availability to provide unbiased reviews so homeowners can confidently navigate key decisions about their homes.

Optional Additions

After your core gutter system has been installed, you can opt for some add-ons. While not necessary, the following are among the most popular:

  • Gutter guards: Even if you install them yourself, gutter guards are a huge asset for any gutter system. A simple metal mesh sheet over your gutters will reduce clogging and needed gutter repairs over the life of your system.
  • Rain barrel: Whether you’re going green or need a way to deal with heavy rainfall, a rain barrel can be a great addition to your system. This simple process can optimize drainage and provide more protection for your foundation and the landscaping features near your home.

DIY or Pros?

This is a question that any homeowner is well-acquainted with. During the lead-up to any project, you’re sure to weigh the cost/benefit ratio of doing things yourself. When it comes to gutters, hiring the right help comes with a few benefits, including:

  • Quality assurances
  • Professional-grade workmanship
  • Possible warranties
  • A more aesthetically pleasing finished product
  • Access to maintenance and cleaning services

Most two-story homes would be better tended to by a professional. Ladder injuries at such heights are worth considering, as they can seriously hamper the quality of life going forward. Similarly, if you think you would prefer a one-piece gutter system, the DIY route won’t be an option. 

Why Do I Need Gutters?

Gutters may not be an oft-thought about component of your home, but they are essential for any area that experiences rainfall. Channeling rainwater away from your home will prevent erosion to existing landscaping, reduce the chances of foundation rot and basement flooding, and will protect your eaves and roof from water damage. These issues can seriously affect your quality of life within your home and be far more expensive to fix than the cost of simply installing gutters. 

Properly installed and cared-for gutters can last decades. If you install quality gutter guards, you’ll reduce maintenance costs and time and ensure that your gutters last as long as they should.

Final Thoughts

We at House Method will typically recommend hiring a professional gutter installer over staging a DIY project. That said, installing gutters on your own is a fairly straightforward project and is a viable option for many homes and homeowners. If you follow the steps outlined above properly and purchase quality materials, you’ll be able to install your gutters without much trouble. 

As is the case with any project like this, careful planning and precise measurements are key. As long as you take your time measuring, cutting, and observing proper power tools and ladder safety, your new gutters will turn out well.

Rain Gutter Installation FAQs

What is a builder's gap?

This is the gap between your fascia and the actual roof planking. Your shingles will cover this from the outside, but a couple of inches of clearance will sometimes allow for some moisture or pests to get into your attic. You can install galvanized flashing before placing your actual gutters to prevent this.

 

Are silicone glue and caulk the same thing?

They are extremely similar substances but are not quite the same thing. Silicone glue is ideal for gutter projects because of its consistency when dry. It is relatively pliable and flexible once it has dried in place in a gutter joint or overlapped. It can expand or contract with temperature changes rather than drying out and wearing over time.

Are metal gutters better for my home?

If you live in an area with more moderate rainfall, then PVC or vinyl gutters will work well for you. Aside from that, they are the cheapest option for most gutter systems. These can last ten to 20 years when properly installed and cared for, which makes them a good choice for many.

How we Ranked, Reviewed, and Tested the Best Gutter Guards

Here, we’ve broken down our rating methodology for gutter guards. You should know that we’ve taken the utmost care to provide the most up-to-date information and to ensure that you make the best choice for your budgetary and home maintenance needs.

Why Trust House Method? Our Gutter Ranking Methodology

At House Method, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. We’ve done the homework for you and have researched over 50 gutter guards so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home. That’s why we took the time to create an objective rating system and score each gutter guard and gutter guard provider company according to our gutter ranking methodology.

We also dug into the details of each gutter guard to ensure that you could make the best decisions for your home and keep your gutters debris-free for years to come.

To make the most of our research, we developed a formula to objectively determine the best gutter guards based on the following criteria:

  • Material: Material durability was the single most important factor that went into our rating methodology for gutter guards. Whether they were stainless steel micro-mesh or plastic screening, we gave an in-depth rating for this criteria.
  • Debris Resistance: Our testing served as the primary evaluator for this factor. We curated a rating based on customer testimonials and our own in-house testing here.
  • Ease of Installation: Most of the gutter guard options listed have some DIY component involved. For this reason, guards that required the fewest specialty tools got the highest rating here.
  • Cost: How reasonable are prices in comparison to the industry average? We compared the costs of each company to competitors.
  • Warranty terms: We looked into the warranty of lifetime warranty terms if it is offered by the provider.
  • Trust: What do customers rate the company? We looked into what customers are saying about their experience with the company.
  • Buying process: if the gutter guard is a DIY installation, how easy is the buying process? We looked for shipping costs and shipping time, as well as where the product can be bought from.

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The top of the house or log cabin with nice window.
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