8 Alternatives to Gutters on Houses

Do you dread the task of having to climb on a ladder or on the roof to clean the gutters of your house from leaves and other debris? Unfortunately, if you want the gutters to work properly and to protect your home from water damage, you will need to clean them and maintain them on a regular basis.

The good news is that there are some excellent gutter alternatives that are equally efficient in keeping the rain and snow out of the house.

Plus, most of them look great and will make your home look even more unique and stylish as well.

Here are the top best gutter alternatives, and their pros and cons

A rain chain

Originating in Japan, Rain chains are among the most attractive and elegant alternatives to gutters. 

Pros:

  • They come in unique, attractive designs, sizes, and materials
  • They will not only collect but will also slow down the water falling from the roof on the ground, causing less noise and damage
  • They can be placed in a sloped position so that the collected water is poured directly into a rain barrel or planter and used later
  • The copper or other metal makes a very pleasant and soothing sound when the water is falling down through the cups

Cons:

  • Rain chains are pretty heavy and cumbersome to hang and install, so you will most probably need an expert to come and mount them
  • If they are not installed properly, the collected rainwater may not drain properly and can create puddles and even water flooding your basement
  • You will need quite a lot of rain chains if your roof is larger, which can be expensive and not so good looking
  • If the rain chain freezes, this can add weight to the installation and cause damage to the roof
  • Rain chains are not suitable for areas where there are heavy rains and storms 

Scatter and disperse roof rain runoff

The rain dispersal systems are efficient gutter alternatives that will not collect any leaves, twigs, and debris and thus will save you time and energy for regular gutter cleaning.

Pros:

  • They are designed to effectively deflect any rain or snow water from the roof and keep it away from the walls of your house
  • Due to their intelligent design, any leaves, twigs, and other debris will fall off instead of getting stuck on the dispersal systems, thus eliminating the need to clean and unblock gutters every season
  • None of the debris will get stuck to the walls of your house, and there will be no erosion under your roof
  • The system will not freeze and ice up
  • It is easy to clean with a hose without 
  • The water falling from this systems falls gently on the ground, under the form of a fine spray, and thus will water the plants underneath without damaging them
  • The system is easy to install, and you can do it yourself for just 1-2 days
  • They are available in different color options

Cons:

  • You will need to plan the runoff carefully to avoid puddles from forming around the house
  • You may need to install ground gutters in order to move the water away from the house if you don’t have a lawn or plants underneath
  • The system is not suitable for roofs with valleys, as these will require the installation of additional diverters

Drainage ground grading

This is another gutter alternative that will make your landscape prettier and free of puddles and ponding in a natural way by ensuring that the house is elevated and there is a slope for the drainage around it.

Pros:

  • Grading helps divert the rainwater away from the house, keeping its foundation safe from structural water damage
  • It can become a beautiful accent in your yard, especially when combined with rain chains or other gutter alternatives
  • It is less expensive than other gutter alternatives

Cons:

  • Installing the grading may require a lot of work, and you may need to tear up your landscape and remove plants, especially if there is no pre-existing slope around the home
  • If there are low spots in the grading, this can lead to puddles forming
  • The grading may need to be readjusted and remade over time if the slope changes

Drip flashing edge

A drip edge is a metal strip attachment that is installed on the roof’s edge and can be used alongside a gutter or as a gutter alternative to keep the water away from the façade and foundation of your house.

Pros:

  • It is among the best gutter alternatives for preserving your home’s structure from potential water damage
  • It can be used together with or as an alternative to gutters
  • It provides added stability to the shingles and will prevent the untimely need for repair or replacements due to water damage
  • It protects the facade from rotting
  • It is also useful for preventing bats and other small animals from entering the attic by sealing the gaps 
  • It prevents the formation of ice dams
  • It is less expensive than other gutter alternatives

Cons:

  • Installing a drip edge on an existing roof can be more complicated than installing it while the roof is being built
  • It needs to be planned and installed with precision for the best results
  • You will need to make sure that there is a slope, grading, or another way to keep the falling water from pooling under the roof and causing damage to the foundation of the house

French drain

A French drain or ground gutter is among the best systems for draining away the water from the roof and keeping it away from the walls and foundations of the house.

Pros:

  • The ground gutter can be installed discreetly so that it won’t affect the appearance of your home and landscape
  • There is minimal maintenance required once the draining system is installed
  • A ground gutter is an excellent way to protect your home’s foundation and siding from potential water damage
  • It can last forever when built properly

Cons:

  • The planning and construction of proper ground gutters can be quite expensive due to the construction materials required
  • If they are not designed and constructed properly, these drains can be quite unsightly
  • While it is possible to be completed as a DIY project, digging and building a drain like this can be time-consuming and costly
  • It needs to be designed and made to ensure there is sufficient drainage

Dripline trench path

A drip path is an efficient gutter alternative for collecting and absorbing rain and snow water, as well as for the control of the erosion causing runoff from a roof.

Pros:

  • It is installed in the ground and thus eliminates the need to make structural changes to the roof and façade of your home
  • When done correctly, it can be an attractive accent to add to your outdoor space
  • When bricks or stone blocks are used, they will protect the soil from eroding from the water
  • Since it is sloped, it will help collect the runoff from the roof and keep it at a safe distance from the foundations of the house
  • You can construct it with attractive pebbles and stones as well

Cons:

  • It needs to be designed and constructed correctly, so you may need the help of an expert
  • You should ensure that there is sufficient drainage underneath the blocks or stones for the best results
  • You may need to remove mature plants growing in its place

Built-in hidden gutters

Hidden gutters may be trickier to install, but they are great gutter alternatives for homeowners who don’t like the look of traditional gutters nor enjoy cleaning them every spring and fall.

Pros:

  • They work like regular gutters but are less visible and require much less maintenance
  • They can work properly and protect the house even in areas with heavy rains and storms
  • Hidden gutters are a great way to preserve the original look of older homes and buildings
  • They can be customized in size and capacity in accordance with the rainfall expected in a particular area

Cons:

  • Since hidden gutters are made of formed metal, they can expand or contract due to temperature changes and then stop functioning efficiently
  • While they require less maintenance, they do need to be cleaned out from the buildup of leaves and other debris, which homeowners can forget to do due to the fact that they are hidden
  • Built-in gutters need to be installed by an expert roofer, which can be an expensive endeavor
  • Their installation can take a lot of time

Copper gutters

While copper gutters are still gutters rather than alternatives to them, they are a much more attractive choice.

Pros:

  • Since they are made of rust-proof and crack-proof copper, these gutters can last for up to 50 and even 100 years with the proper maintenance, so gutters like this will last a lifetime
  • They are shiny and much more aesthetically pleasing than traditional gutters made of aluminum, zinc, or other materials
  • Copper gutters will make your house look unique and stand out from the rest of the homes with traditional gutters
  • The finish of the copper will change over time, making the gutters look even more beautiful and dramatic

Cons:

  • They are significantly more expensive than traditional aluminum gutters
  • Their installation requires that copper nails, fitting and other elements are used as well, which will add to the overall price
  • They need to be custom made by a craftsman who is an expert in working with copper – which costs more money and takes a lot of time
  • You will likely need to hire an installer who is also an expert in working with copper because the metal is more difficult to work with than others

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