We know how difficult it can be to protect your home while you're on a budget. That's why so many DIY home solutions are popular. However, when it comes to gutter installation, it can be challenging to know whether or not a DIY job is worth the effort. Are gutters, after all, that hard to install?
It is difficult to install gutters on your own, but that doesn't mean that it is impossible. You can determine for yourself whether or not you want to take on the challenge of installing gutters around the perimeter of your home. However, as you do so, you'll want to consider those individual factors that could make your job harder, such as:
- The struggles of working alone
- Purchasing inappropriate tools or materials
- Potentially damaging your roof.
- The cost of DIY installation
There is a lot to consider before making the decision between installing your gutters yourself or hiring a pro. Keep reading for all the details!
Are Gutters Hard To Install?
Taking on home repair projects can be invigorating, especially if you know you're saving money while you work. After all, protecting your home from water damage, but maintaining your home repair budget is, too.
That said, some tasks can rapidly spiral out of control if you try to take them on alone. Installing gutters, for example, can seem like a relatively straightforward process at first. However, suppose you aren't sure what to do, what materials to purchase, or how to use those materials to your advantage. In that case, you may walk away from an installation job, having lost time and money to a lackluster project.
In short, then: yes, gutters are challenging to install. However, as mentioned, it is not impossible to put your gutters up on your own. If you take your time and work with a buddy, you can often slash the cost of an installation job.
What Tools Do You Need To Install Gutters?
If you want to install gutters on your own time, you will need the following tools:
- An extension ladder
- A cordless drill for easy travel and use.
- A crimper
- A hex head driver
- Duckbill tin snips
- A pop rivet gun
- Offset tin snips
You will also want to ensure that you have secured the materials you need for your specific set of gutters as well as for the dimensions of your home. These materials, the gutters, and downspouts notwithstanding, can include:
- Gutter elbows
- Gutter flashing
- A gutter hanging strap
- Waterproof sealant
- Hex head screws and zippers
How Are Gutters Installed?
Whether you install your gutters on your own time or you outsource the work to a professional, you can expect the gutter installation process to involve the following steps:
Step 1: Measuring Your Roof
Before you even purchase the materials you need to install your gutters, you'll want to get an idea of how long and tall your roof is. This way, you can avoid over- or under-purchasing gutter lengths. After all, gutter systems should catch rain runoff no matter what side of your roof sees exposure.
Note, too, that you should consider whether or not you want to invest in underground downspouts during this phase of preparation. This way, when you measure your roof's height for ideal downspout size, you can also calculate what length of materials you might need to direct that rain runoff out towards the street or a containment unit.
Step 2: Calculating and Marking Your Slopes
Gutters protect your home with some assistance from gravity. If you attach gutters to your home without placing them at an angle, then the water that gutters gather can pool instead of running down towards your yard.
As such, you'll want to determine what slope your gutters should have before you start installing your materials. For the best effects, you should drop your gutter by a quarter of an inch for every ten feet you install.
Step 3: Purchase Your Materials
Only once you have established your initial measurements should you go to your local hardware store to purchase the materials you need for gutter installation. Of course, if you would prefer to do your shopping online, you can browse Amazon's catalogs for the tools that'll make the installation process simpler.
Step 4: Determining Your Downspout Outlet
With your materials secured and appropriately measured, it's time to determine where your downspouts are going to be. As mentioned, you need one downspout for every forty feet of gutter you install.
Before attaching your gutters to your roof, measure the distance and mark where you want your downspout outlets with a marker or chalk. Then, use the appropriate tools - most often a hand chisel - to create an opening in your gutter in the same size and shape as the downspout outlet you purchased. Attach the outlet and seal it with your waterproof sealant. Do note that you do not have to attach the rest of the downspout at this stage, as doing so can complicate the installation process.
Step 5: Trimming Your Gutters
While you should have measured out your roof and purchased gutter lengths accordingly, there is always a chance that a hardware store or online retailer provided you with gutters that are too long. If your gutters appear to have a little extra length to them, you can use a hand saw to trim them down to size.
Step 6: Installing Your Gutters
Finally, with your materials prepared, you can go about the process of installing your gutters. Drill pilot holes for your mounting supports and secure those supports with lag screws. Once all of your supports are in place, you can layout your gutters at their appropriate angle.
Step 7: Securing Your Downspout
With your gutters in the air, you can screw your downspout attachments into the downspout outlets you already secured. Of course, if you invested in underground downspouts, make sure to have dug out a trench - you'll want to lay your piping only after your gutters and additional hardware are already in place.
What Could Go Wrong During a Gutter Installation?
There are a few things that may go wrong when you try to install your own gutters. Some of the most common problems homeowners face include:
Improperly Angling Your Gutters
As mentioned previously, you must angle your gutters for the runoff they collect to travel away from your home's foundation. If you do not angle your gutters appropriately, water will pool there and, eventually, run over onto the perimeter of your home.
Leaving Gaps In Your Work
There is always a chance, as well, that you may make a mistake when trimming your gutters or installing a downspout outlet. In these cases, you may find yourself contending with leaking gutters not long after you install yours. If your gutters do start to leak, then you may end up with repair costs on top of what you already paid to install the gutters yourself.
Underestimating The Cost Of Materials
The materials you need to install gutters need to be of high quality if you want them to protect your home. However, purchasing these sorts of materials can cost you a pretty penny, especially if you don't make a point of budgeting before you take on your project. Many homeowners take on DIY projects in an attempt to save money, so it can be disheartening to learn that you've spent more putting your own gutters up than you would have had you contacted a professional.
Exposing Yourself To Unnecessary Danger
Trying to put up gutters without any assistance is a dangerous task. Not only do you risk falling off of your ladder, but you may also find yourself unable to contend with the materials you're setting up due to the sheer breadth of them.
Is It Cheaper to Install Gutters Yourself?
As mentioned, installing gutters on your own time can be cheaper than hiring a contractor to do the work. However, for that to be the case, you must be confident in what you are doing and accurate. The cost of materials can often become too much for the average homeowner, especially if a homeowner is trying to save money. Similarly, if something goes amiss while you're working on your gutters, you may lose money calling out a professional to fix or otherwise alter the materials you've already paid for.
Do You Need Gutters Around Your Entire Home?
It is in your best interest to install gutters all the way around your home. Gutters serve to keep rainwater and other runoff from reaching the perimeter of your home, where it can seep down towards your basement, crawl space, and foundation. Should water reach these structures, it can cause the materials supporting your home to expand and contract rapidly. In doing so, your home can become more susceptible to foundation cracks and interior water damage.
While you can invest in home waterproofing measures to reduce the likelihood of that kind of damage developing, gutters lower the chances even further as they redirect runoff out towards your yard or a nearby drain.
What Can You Install Instead Of Gutters?
Gutters serve as home waterproofing measures. They protect the perimeter of your home from extensive exposure to water and, in turn, prevent your basement, foundation, and crawl space from having to endure undue hydrostatic pressure. If you're looking, then, for alternatives to gutters that are easier to install on your own, you can browse a catalog of home waterproofing measures.
Some of the simplest home waterproofing measures to install include:
- Sump pumps
- French drains
- Basement vents
Note that you can also invest in temporary basement and foundation sealants, but that using these sealants on your home's exterior will require foundation excavation. You can alternatively invest in waterproof insulation or a vapor barrier if you're worried about future leaks.
Of course, if you're in the market for a gutter alternative that serves the same immediate purpose as a set of gutters, you have those types of options available to you. Some of the most effective gutter alternatives that either you or a professional can install include:
- Drip edges
- Drip paths
- Rain chains
- Rain dispersal systems
Note that you also have the option of re-grading the land around the perimeter of your home if you're worried about the presence of water near your structural supports.
In terms of viable DIY projects, installing your gutters can prove to be a challenge. If you're careful and determine the cost of materials ahead of time, you may be able to save money by putting up your gutters on your own. However, should something go amiss while you're at work, or should you not prepare your budget adequately, the process can cost you far more than you might expect.