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7 Alternatives to Gutters on Houses

A collage of different types of gutters.

Most homes use regular gutters, you don’t have to use them. Perhaps you don’t like the look of them or the maintenance or you simply want to try something different.

Below we set out 7 viable alternatives to gutters for your home. Check them out.

Related: Parts of a Roof Gutter

1. Rain Chains

Copper rain chain with 4 rounded hibiki cups.Source: Hayneedle


  • This is one of the  most attractive ways to keep rain from damaging your home and to direct it away from your home. They come in a number of different designs and style options.
  • They can be gently sloped out from your home to direct the water to a planter or a rain barrel for later use.
  • The system actually slows down the fall of water so that it is less destructive if is splashes onto bare land.


  • They are heavy and can be difficult to install. It’s important to always rely on an expert to complete the work for you so you can make sure that they are secure.
  • Improper installation will lead to water not draining effectively and can lead to standing puddles on your property or water in the basement.
  • Larger roofs will require many more chains in order for them to work effectively and this can be not only expensive but also difficult to complete in an aesthetically pleasing manner.
  • Ice can be a concern on the rain chains if it freezes. This can increase the weight of the chain and negatively impact your roof.
  • They can’t handle large amounts of water so if you live in an area with frequent heavy storms, then they may not be the best choice.

2. Rain Dispersal Systems

A complete set of natural aluminum rainfall gutters.Pros

  • The installation of louvres on the roof of your home will deflect water away from the walls of your house. This limits the chance of water damage along your walls or in your basement.
  • These help disperse the water around your home and limit erosion right below your roof, which will improve the appearance of your property and keep dirt and small bits of debris from splashing up and sticking to the side of your home.
  • Because this system is uniquely created and fitted to your home, you won’t have to worry about its effectiveness.
  • Any debris such as leaves or small sticks that would have been trapped in your gutter will simply blow off of your roof.
  • Water will land directly on the plants under your roof but will be in a finer spray rather than hard drops so the plants will not be damaged.
  • Installation is fast and easy so you can quickly install these in a weekend.


  • Without planning for where runoff will be, it is possible to have puddles form around your home. Grading is important and many homeowners find that they have a much better result when they install a ground gutter as well to help trap the water and move it away from the home.
  • It’s important to make sure that you carefully consider the layout of your roof as ones with valleys will need extra diverters to keep water from flowing and staying there.

3. Grading

Ground or french gutter installed around the yard.


  • The right grading around your home is a great way to ensure that water drains away from your house instead of staying near the foundation where it can cause a lot of damage.
  • When done correctly, grading can improve the appearance of a home without detracting from its beauty with items such as rain chains.
  • While not a permanent solution the way that gutters and other options are, this can help take care of the problem on a budget, especially if there are not heavy rains all year long.


  • Unfortunately, grading can mean tearing up a lot of the landscaping around your home if there is not enough of a slope to keep the water running away from your home. This can be frustrating if you have mature plants by your home.
  • Any low spots in the grading will allow the water to collect there and cause problems.
  • Over time, you may have to regrade the area around your home to make sure that the slope is still constant enough to keep the water moving the way that it should. This can become expensive and disruptive.

4. Drip Edge

Galvanized steel drip edge.Pros

  • This is a great way to ensure that water from your roof does not run down the side of your home or land close to the foundation.
  • This can be used in addition to a gutter but works just as well by itself to protect the home.
  • Drip edges give your shingles extra support so you don’t have to worry about water getting under the shingles. When this happens, water damage will quickly occur and you may need to replace your shingles to protect your home.
  • Even with gutters, water can run down the fascia and rot it.
  • In addition to protecting your home from water damage, drip edges will actually seal a gap that many small animals will try to get into to access your attic.
  • Homeowners who install drip edges on their roofs don’t have to worry about ice dams building up on the roof and causing damage.
  • Even if you pay someone to install the drip edge for you, it is a relatively inexpensive update to do to your home.


  • Once your home has been built, it can be difficult to add a drip edge. While it is still possible to do this, it will take a little more work.
  • It has to be installed correctly in order to offer the most benefit to the home.
  • It’s important that you make sure that the water will be able to flow away from your foundation so you won’t have to worry about it pooling right below the drip edge and causing damage to your home.

5. Ground Gutter or French Drain

Ground gutter installed in a house.


  • This does not change the appearance of the home and can be hidden so that nobody knows that it has been installed.
  • It does a great job protecting the siding and foundation of the home from water damage.
  • Freezing is generally not an issue and once the French drain has been installed, there generally isn’t any necessary maintenance.
  • When constructed properly and by an expert, these ground gutters will last for years without any major problems.


  • They can be costly due to all of the materials that it takes to build them.
  • If not properly built, then it will be obvious and won’t add to the beauty of your home.
  • It’s important that there is enough drainage in the system so that water doesn’t pool near the base of the home or this can quickly cause water damage.
  • Digging the trench yourself is not only time-consuming but also a lot of work so many homeowners rely on professionals to do the work for them. Unfortunately, this will increase the total cost of the project.

6. Drip Path


  • When installed correctly and by someone with an eye to detail, a drip path is an attractive way to make sure that all water running off of the roof of a home moves quickly away from the foundation without causing damage to the home or eroding the soil.
  • Because a drip path is installed on the ground, you don’t have to worry about damaging your home with its installation.


  • If not installed correctly and with the right slope, then the water will not run away from the foundation of the home and can cause water damage.
  • While large rocks may look the best, it’s important that there is enough drainage underneath them in order for the drip path to work the way that it should.
  • It is possible to plant bushes and landscape around the drip path; however, the primary concern should be moving water away from the home and bushes may hinder the ability to do that.

7. Built-in Gutters


  • Perfect for homeowners who don’t want to see their gutters but still want the benefit of a gutter system, built-in gutters are also known as hidden gutters because they are a concealed way to drain water from the roof.
  • They require a lot less maintenance than typical gutters do and can generally withstand the rain from even the heaviest of storms.
  • Perfect on older homes, hidden gutters won’t detract from the historical accuracy of a home.
  • They can be sized so that they will best work with the amount of rainfall that the home normally sees each year.


  • Made from formed metal, built-in gutters can suffer from contraction and expansion with the changing weather. This may result in failure at the seams of the gutters, which will allow water damage to occur.
  • Because they are hidden from view, many homeowners forget about the maintenance that they will require, such a cleaning out any blockages or checking for leaks and corrosion. This means that problems can build up over time before they are ever addressed.
  • Due to the nature of built-in gutters, they are not something that a homeowner can easily install on the roof in order to update the home or better protect it from water damage. It’s important that only an experienced roofer complete the task of creating them so that there is no concern over the quality of construction.
  • Hidden gutters are an expensive choice and one that will take a lot of work and time to have installed.