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Guide to Gutter Replacement and Installation

By Britt Olizarowicz

Having a gutter system on your home will not only increase resale value but also makes it much easier to properly maintain your home. Whether you are looking to replace existing gutters or ready to install something entirely new, our guide has all the information you need. Let’s take a look at how to install and replace gutters.

Signs You Need To Replace Your Gutters

There are a few key signs to look for that will alert you to the fact that it’s time to replace your rain gutters. Gutter repair costs for gutters in bad shape can be just as high as replacement costs.

  • Cracks: if your gutters are cracking, they have likely experienced too much water damage and are ready to replace
  • Water damage: water damage on your home or rotting wood will tell you that the gutters are not functioning the way they should
  • Seam Stress: when seamless gutters and traditional gutters start to deteriorate, they will break at the seams
  • Mildew discoloration: most gutters are made with materials that will not mold, rust, or rot, however, some older vinyl or aluminum gutters do have a lifespan

Planning for Gutter Replacement or Installation

Before you start your gutter replacement or installation project, there are a few preliminary steps that you must take. As far as home improvement projects are concerned, this one is a bit involved and requires choosing the proper materials and preparing your workspace.

Consider Different Gutter Sizes, Materials, and Styles

Homeowners have the choice of several different gutter materials to choose from, ranging from vinyl gutters to copper gutters. Each type of gutter has different associated costs. In addition to materials, gutter styles need to be considered, including half-round or K-style gutters.

Here is a full guide to the different types of gutters you can choose from.

Gather Tools and Components

Here are some of the most important tools and components you will need to start your gutter installation or replacement project. Remember that the size of your home and the type of gutter you choose will impact the quantity of each component.

  • 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 a bit
  • Tape measure
  • Silicone glue and a caulking gun
  • 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)

13 Steps for Replacing Gutters

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

1. Inspect Current Gutters for Style, Fit, and any Damages

Finding the best gutter for your home involves looking at the different style and fit that may work for your home. Take a look at the current gutter system and see if there are issues that are not working for your home.

Look for damage, and try to understand why that is happening. Gutters could have issues with the angle they are installed or the materials used in the climate. It’s good to analyze the functionality of your current system, so you know what is working and what is not working. As part of this process, it also makes sense to look into some of the best gutter guards for your new gutters. Gutter guards will significantly increase the longevity of your gutter system.

2. Browse and Select New Gutters, Hangers, Gutter Flashing, etc.

This step is pretty simple but is essential 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

3. Gather Necessary Tools and Equipment

See our list above of the necessary tools and equipment you will need for your gutter replacement or installation. Keep in mind that when removing old gutters from your home, you will also need a way to dispose of these gutters. Check with your local garbage collection services to see what they recommend as the best way to dispose.

4. Measure and Cut New Gutters to Fit Your Roof

This step will require the most attention to detail. 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 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 the Gutters Together and Caulk

Before putting your gutters up on the home, you will need to attach them together and caulk. When attaching the gutters together, make sure that you overlap at least four inches. In addition, make sure that wherever visible, the factor cut edge is standing out.

When a gutter section ends, cut it so it will extend an inch past the fascia board. This is done to help catch water from shingles that overhang. Most rooflines will have this, so it’s important to pay attention to where the gutters are positioned.

Use a caulk designed explicitly for gutter installation and follow all specifics and directions to ensure it stays together for years to come. One of the most common complaints for homeowners with old gutters is that the seams start to fall apart.

6.  Mark, Cut, and Rivet the Downspout Holes

Before putting the gutters up on the home, you will need to mark, cut, and rivet the downspout holes. When you did your gutter planning, the route and path that water takes from the roof to the ground should have been carefully considered.

Double check your measurements and that there are no obstructions that would make it impossible to place the downspout. Then follow this process:

  • Mark the center of your downspout on the bottom edge of the gutter
  • Place your downspout outlet on the gutter and trace around the inside edge
  • Use a chisel and tin snaps to carefully create the downspout holes

7. Carefully Remove Current Gutters

Now that all of your gutter prep work is complete, it’s time to carefully remove your old gutters from home. Most of the time, the fasteners and any brackets should also come down. Chances are, these will come off quite easily if your current gutters are in bad condition.

From experience and speaking with gutter installation companies we can tell you that moving methodically through the gutter removal process will pay off. Ripping old gutters off the home can cause issues with the fascia board.

8. Mark the Gutter Slope on the Fascia Board

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 a 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.

9. Screw Gutters to Roof Fascia Board

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 can 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 adequately hung.
  • 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 they’re fully sealed.

10. Attach Gutter Flashing

Gutter flashing can ensure that water will not flow behind your gutters. Gutter flashing will decrease the chance of experiencing water damage to the house. The flashing should slide under the shingles and roofing paper of the home.

However, there are sometimes quite a few nails and staples that make it impossible to slide the flashing far enough under the roofing paper and shingles. If this is the case pushing the flashing under the first row of shingles should be enough. Secure the flashing with one-inch roofing nails.

We like to overlap the flashing to ensure there are no areas where water can fall through.

11. Strength Gutters with Hidden Gutter Hangers

Gutters can be strengthened with hidden gutter hangers. Once your gutters are hanging on the home, the hidden gutter hangers are quite easy to install. We recommend installing hangers every two feet to ensure long-term stability in the gutters. In addition, the hidden hangers will help in situations with really heavy rainfall as well.

When installing hidden gutter hangers, try to be careful that you don’t lean on the newly installed gutters, put pressure on the drill, and be sure to hang the gutter hangers level.

12.  Assemble and Attach Downspout Elbows

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.

13. Maintain Gutters

Now that you have brand new gutters on your home, it’s essential to establish an excellent gutter cleaning protocol. One of the best ways to maintain your gutters is to have a product like LeafFilter installed. When looking at the overall cost of gutter installation, also consider Leaffilter cost. LeafFilter will give you a free quote for their impressive gutter guard solutions and eliminate all clogs that gutters are known to get from leaves, pine needles, animals, and more.

In addition, it is a good idea to use a mildew or bleach spray on your gutters from time to time to remove any streaking in areas where water spills over the edge. Be sure to protect any landscaping on the ground if you are going to use a product like this.

Best Overall

  • Full installation of patented 3-piece LeafFilter system
  • Stainless steel 275-micron micromesh screen
  • Lifetime transferable warranty
  • Free estimate with in-person inspection

our rating9.7

Should You DIY or Hire a Gutter Installation Professional?

Now that you have all the information necessary for how to install gutters or how to replace them, you may be wondering if professional gutter installation companies are a better solution. This decision as to whether or not DIY gutter installation is a good idea will come down to your budget and time.

The more money you have to spend, the easier it will be to justify the costs of a professional gutter installation. In addition, gutter installation is a bit different than other home improvement projects, and it will take quite a bit of your time. If you don’t have several days to invest in this project, you may want to hire a professional.

Luckily there are some excellent gutter installation companies to choose from.

Professional Gutter Replacement and Installation

LeafFilter is the best choice for a professional gutter installation company. LeafFilter will come to your home and give you a free quote. One of the great things about the gutter services from LeafFilter is that they also include the LeafFilter gutter guards. These stainless steel micro-mesh guards are the best in the industry and will ensure your gutters never get clogged. Here are a few of the reasons you may want to choose LeafFilter.

Not comfortable working on a ladder

A gutter contractor is confident standing on a ladder, especially for homes with more than one story.

Don’t have the right tools

Installing your gutters takes quite a bit of equipment and tools, and with professional gutter installation, you can avoid these additional expenses.

Not sure how to replace gutters or what ones you need

If you are not a home improvement expert, expect to have some trouble with this project. In addition, choosing between steel gutters, copper gutters, or vinyl gutters takes a bit of thought and consideration.

You have a warranty on your gutters

Professionally installed gutters will have a warranty, typically for twenty years or more. A DIY installation may have a short warranty on materials but not on the installation.

You want to avoid any mistakes

Sometimes it’s best to think about the worst thing that can happen when taking on a large DIY project like this. What happens if the gutters don’t drain properly? Are you good at measuring and cutting? Do you have some help to ensure you are not standing on the ladder by yourself installing these gutters? Before jumping into a DIY gutter install, please consider all of this.

Can I Install Gutters Myself?

Gutters can be installed as a DIY project, but it’s best if you have some experience with home improvement-type projects. In addition to awareness of how the gutter system works, you have to plan to ensure it is effective; some angles and slopes are involved in a gutter installation that will take some time to figure out.

How often should you replace house gutters?

House gutters should be replaced anywhere from 20 to 50 years from the date of their original installation. The time between gutter replacements is determined by the original install job and the quality of the gutter material used. In addition, climates where rain is frequent will have to replace gutters more often.

Final Thoughts

We hope you now have a much better understanding of the process involved with a DIY gutter installation. If you want to save money on gutter installation cost the DIY route is the way to go. If you don’t feel comfortable with the steps involved in a DIY gutter installation, LeafFilter can give you a full quote for a high-quality gutter and gutter guard system.

Best Overall

  • Full installation of patented 3-piece LeafFilter system
  • Stainless steel 275-micron micromesh screen
  • Lifetime transferable warranty
  • Free estimate with in-person inspection

our rating9.7

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to replace gutters around a house?

Gutter replacement will range from around $1000 to more than $5000. The average cost of gutter replacement will be considerably higher if you are hiring a professional to complete this process for you.

What does Home Depot charge to install gutters?

Home Depot uses a pro services referral to help match you with a gutter contractor in your area. Each of these gutter contractors has different rates per linear foot of gutter. It’s wise to get more than one quote.

Is it cheaper to install your own gutters?

It is considerably cheaper to install your gutters than to hire a professional. However, you will need to have supplies and tools on hand. In addition, you must consider the time it will take to complete this project.

Are gutters hard to replace?

Gutter replacement is not easy, but it is not impossible. If your original gutters were installed correctly, you could learn a lot about them before taking them off the home, and this may make replacement an easier task than a new installation of gutters.

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