Last modified: 2020-03-12 | Approximate reading time 5 mins
Without our trusted rain gutters, rainwater would splash and run down our homes, seeping its way into the surfaces and eroding the soil that holds our foundation.
Even though these eavestroughs may be kept out of sight and out of mind, they are working towards preserving the structure and surfaces of the home.
Gutters can be installed by professionals, or this job can be tackled by the adventurous homeowner. All the materials needed can be found at your local hardware store, so if you’re feeling up for the job, let’s get started. We’ve got the lowdown on how to install rain gutters to keep surfaces dry and foundations intact!
Please note that throughout the article, we will be referring to both gutters and eavestroughs, which are synonyms referring to the same thing.
Gather the necessary tools and materials
Before you start your gutter installation project, you will need to gather the tools and materials required to do so.
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First, check the structure of your home for any signs of damage and decay. Be sure to look at the fascia and soffits to make sure that the surrounding wood is not rotting. If you find signs of rotting or deterioration, the wood will need to be replaced before you can install the gutters.
If your home’s exterior has a trim board or crown moulding underneath the shingles, you may have to remove this or create a flat surface for the gutters to be attached. This can be done by fastening a flat piece of wood along the surface. Also, if you are using a piece of wood, make sure it has been primed and painted with waterproof materials to protect its exterior.
Once you have determined and decided how gutters will hang, measure the area you wish to cover with the rain gutters, making sure to record the entire length that the gutter will run including the highest and lowest points as well as the downspout location.
Make sure that downspouts will be in areas that are not obstructed by anything and are placed in inconspicuous locations, so that water is directed away from the house. Mark the location of the downspout, or each if you are going to be incorporating multiple ones.
Also, bear in mind that each downspout requires three elbows. There are two types of elbows on the market: front-facing and side facing. Most gutter installations require only front-facing elbows, but depending on the layout of your home, you may require a side elbow.
Next, count the corners as well as the places where your gutters will require end caps. Note whether the corners that are needed are right-hand or left-hand ends, as this will be necessary information when buying your materials. Keep in mind that if you live in an area where heavy rain or storms are common, you will need to accommodate the weather by way of a larger gutter.
To locate the rafter tails to which you will need to attach the brackets, look for nailhead points behind the fascia. Mark every other rafter tail, and bore a pilot hole into the rafter tails at each of the marks. Next, fasten brackets into place with ¼ inch stainless steel lag screws, making sure that the screws are long enough to penetrate the rafter at least 2 inches.
It is much easier to preassemble your gutters before installing them, as joining sections on the ground is less painful than trying to assemble them in the air. If gutter sections have not been pre-cut, you'll need to cut sections according to measurements.
This task can be completed with a hacksaw and aviation snips or with a 12-inch mitre saw that has been fitted with the appropriate blade. Further, make sure that if the gutters need to curve around a corner that the appropriate angle is cut.
Once all pieces have been cut, begin attaching the pieces by way of seam covers. This method is often recommended by manufacturers, but pieces can also be fastened by simply overlapping them, and using caulk and rivets to hold them in place. Make sure to lap the gutters so that the insides are facing downhill, as this will prevent water from moving outside of the seam.
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Further, make sure that the end of the gutter extends an inch past the end of the fascia board, as this will catch the water from the overhanging shingles. Finally, attach the end cup, sealing it from the inside with a gutter-specific sealant and rivets. Always secure rivets and screws in the sides of the gutter, and never in the bottom.
Close off the gutters by attaching the end caps. At the square ends of the gutters, secure an end cap using pop rivets, or fasten an end cap to each end of the gutters do not need to turn a corner. Seal off the gutters using a siliconized caulk, as this will provide a water-tight seal.
Now you’re all set to attach the gutters to the side of your home. Bear in mind that you may need help from a friend or family member for this step. Lift the gutters and lay them against the brackets that have been screwed into the fascia. Rotate the gutters upwards into the hooks, allowing the back edges to neatly slip into the brackets.
Each bracket will come equipped with a screw mounting hole. Find these and drill a hole into the front edge of the gutter. Secure the gutter in place using a stainless-steel screw. If the gutters and screws aren’t the same colour, consider spray painting or staining them to match.
You'll want to cover the joint between two lengths of gutter, and this can be done with a piece of aluminum strip that is at least 3 inches wide. Wrap the aluminum strip underneath the gutter, securing it with sheet-metal screws or pop rivets.
Lastly, downspouts will need to be connected to the gutters for water to run safely down and away from your home. To secure downspouts, start by simply attaching downspout outlets to the gutter by way of rivets or screws.
Next, attach the downspout elbow so that it protrudes down from the gutter. Holding another piece of the elbow against the house, measure and cut a piece of downspout to fit between the elbows. Using needle-nose pliers, crimp the elbow to fit into the downspout and fasten all sections together with rivets or screws.
To find out the installation price of the different models of gutters, check out our article Gutter Installation Cost Guide-Materials and Maintenance.
To learn how to clean your gutters, take a look at our article How to Clean Gutters.
To learn how to repair a damaged gutter, check out our article How to Repair a Broken Gutter.
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