How to Install a Rain Gutter

Rain gutters allow water from storms or melting snow to be channeled away from a house's roof and foundation.

Properly installed and maintained rain gutters will help keep basements dry. They will also help keep exterior walls dry during rain storms, and minimize water damage to outside walls, roofs and house foundations.

Disconnect the downspout from the gutter. The downspout may be press-fit, screwed or riveted to the gutter. Pull press-fit pieces apart by hand. Remove any screws with a cordless drill or screwdriver, then pull the downspout away from the gutter.

Drill out rivets using a high speed steel drill bit, then remove downspout from the gutter.

Remove old gutters prior to installation using the same techniques as used to remove the downspout.

Gutters may be attached with clamps or screws. Remove these using a cordless drill and drill bit.

Make any necessary repairs to the fascia board, and repaint if needed with exterior paint.

Mark a chalk line along the fascia board. Slope the line about 1/2 inch for every 10 feet of line. Slope toward the drain or downspout end.

Assemble the gutters on the ground prior to moving them into position. Assembly may include installing end caps, drain outlets and splicing gutter pieces together to customize the exact length required. Use tin snips and chalk to cut gutters to length. (Gutters are typically made from soft materials, like aluminum and vinyl, making them easy to cut and trim to fit.) Ground assembly allows for easy adjustments, and keeps working on ladders and scaffolds to a minimum.

Caulk and rivet joints and seams. Drill through the overlapping seams of the end caps, joints and gutter using the cordless drill. Connect two pieces together with aluminum pop rivets. Caulk the seams using silicone caulk loaded into a caulking tool, or a ready-to-use caulk tube. Run a line of caulk along the seam. Smooth the edges flat with an edging tool.

Secure the gutter clamps, which will hold the gutter into position, onto the fascia board with screws and a cordless drill, or hammer and nails. Space the gutter clamps according to the manufacturer's instructions. Use non-corrosive screws or nails for long-lasting wear.

Place assembled gutters into the clamps. Set them inside the clamps that have been secured to the fascia board. Do not put stress on caulked seams or joints during the installation process.

Secure the mounted gutters with gutter clips.

Things You Will Need

  • Chalk line Level Hammer Cordless drill 1/8-inch rivets 1/8-inch drill bit Nails and/or screws Caulk Caulk-edging tool Tin snips Tape measure Ladder and/or scaffolding


  • Installing rain gutters is ideally more than a one-person job. Enlist help, if possible, especially with long pieces. Smooth caulk easily with a finger inside a plastic bag, or disposable plastic glove.


  • Always use care when working on ladders or scaffolding. Make sure your support is secure. Overreaching or overextending can cause accidents.

About the Author

Melinda Rizzo is a Pennsylvania-based freelance writer with 11 years of experience covering business news, trends, local and state government, medicine, the arts, human interest features as well as lifestyle issues. Rizzo’s work appears in Lehigh Valley Style Magazine, The Morning Call, The Express-Times and the Eastern Pennsylvania Business Journal.