6 Tips About How To Install Gutters

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated November 19, 2021
Grey siding townhouse with white gutters
G – stock.adobe.com

Ladder safety and good planning are the keys to the castle

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Installing gutters yourself is a good way to save some cash. And so long as you have a friend or family member to help, along with a solid plan going in, it’s not as hard of a project as you might think. The average cost to replace gutters is $1,600 to $2,200, which will vary depending on the materials you use and the length of the gutter system you’re installing.

Here are seven gutter installation tips to check out.

1. Map Out the Whole Project

As the old success adage goes, “Begin with the end in mind.” Your gutter installation project should be mapped out on paper and clearly outlined step by step, even before you head to the hardware store or order parts online. 

Your gutter installation project should account for:

  • How you’ll remove old gutters (if applicable)

  • What your new gutter system will look like

  • How it'll perform differently or outperform your current gutters

  • How much of each material you’ll need

  • Where you’ll bury underground gutter downspouts (and other yard/driveway considerations)

This step will help prevent errors and unnecessary expenses from cropping up later.

2. Gather Everything Before You Start

Gutter installation does require lots of equipment, tools, and materials to complete—and it’s much better to have them on-hand before you climb up that ladder.

Here’s a list of things you’ll likely need to get the job done:

  • Cordless power drill

  • Hex head screws

  • 1/8” medium-length rivets

  • Ladder

  • Crimper

  • Downspouts and elbows

  • Gutter material (appropriate length)

  • New flashing

  • Work gloves

  • Gutter sealant

  • Screws

Other considerations may include shopping around for the best gutter guards. Gutter guards cost $600 to $2,000, but they do prevent you from having to climb a ladder to clear leaves and debris in the future.

3. Find a Buddy or Family Member to Help

It’s highly advisable to install new gutters with someone helping you, so call a friend or recruit a family member. Post-installation beer is always a good incentive. Your friend or relative can help you practice good ladder safety by holding the bottom and also help you check the sloping (see tip #5) during installation.

4. Join Sections on the Ground

Assembling gutters and downspouts on a ladder is just asking for trouble, as one false step or second of imbalance could lead to you falling down or damaging your new materials. Stay safe and work smart by assembling everything you need joined together on the ground. 

Set each gutter section by the ladder in the order of installation so your friend can hand it to you when you need it.

5. Ensure Your Sloping Is Correct

Handyman checking angle of a gutter
kosmos111 – stock.adobe.com

Install gutters at a slight angle (the golden rule is 1/2 inch of slope for every 10 feet of gutter) to promote water drainage in the proper direction. Your initial plans may account for this, but look at the slope as you install and have your friend check your work.

For gutters that measure 40 feet or more across, it’s better to pitch gutters at a slope from the middle instead of one side, then have them drain to downspouts on each side. Doing so prevents leaves and other debris from completely disrupting your system. You can measure the slope by fastening a string to one side of your gutter and measuring the string level across the area.

6. Prep Fascia and Soffits

Man on a ladder installing new house soffit
kuchina – stock.adobe.com

The fascia, or wooden boards that run under your roof that protect the interior components, is where you'll install your new gutters. If your old ones are rotted, broken, or damaged, it might be worth replacing or applying a sealant to reinforce them. A roofing contractor near you can give you advice on whether that's necessary.

Right before you install new gutters is also a good time to paint your fascia to give the exterior of your home a fresh look. With nothing obstructing the way, you can apply one even coat and give it time to dry before installing the new system.

7. Apply Gutter Sealant

Gutter sealant is a must after installation. It helps prevent leaks in your gutters and protects your roof, siding, and foundation from unnecessary water exposure. 

You can purchase a jar at home improvement stores for $12 to $30. Apply it when the gutters are dry. If it rained or it’s extremely humid outside, wipe any condensation or rainwater off before application.

When you clean the outside of gutters in the future, you can reapply a sealant if you’d like.

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