How to Install or Replace Gutters

A workman carefully installing gutter keeping in regard the pitch

Your gutters are battered and creaky, or maybe you don’t have them in the first place, and you’re considering installing new ones by yourself. But everyone warns you how challenging DIY gutter installation is. It is, to some extent, but if you have the right tools and materials and know how to install or replace gutters, you’re good!

We put together a step-by-step guide to help you install new gutters safely and correctly. 

Signs You Need to Replace Gutters

Malfunctioning gutters are not only useless, but they also put you and your house at risk of serious damage. Here are a few key signs that should alert you that it’s time to replace your rain gutters:

  • Cracks: Water damage and prolonged use can cause cracking. It’s a sign that requires immediate attention. 
  • Mildew: The presence of mold or mildew around gutters is another sign. This typically happens with gutter materials that have a short lifespan, such as vinyl or aluminum. 
  • Seam Stress: Old age or poor maintenance can take a toll on traditional gutters. Stress on the seams can cause them to crack or separate. 
  • Peeling Paint: Flecks or peeling paint on your gutters indicate continuous standing water because of improper water flow. It could also mean cracks or other damage and requires replacement sooner rather than later. 
  • Water Damage: Water damage or stains on the underside of gutters means there is a leak or water is overflowing the gutters due to an obstruction. If not repaired immediately, water damage can extend to and ruin your fascia board and soffits. 

Tools, Materials, and Prep Work for Gutter Installation

a person installing a gutter on roof
Photo Credit: Lex20 / Canva Pro / License

Before you start your gutter installation or replacement project, there are a few preliminary measures that you must take. Remember, this home improvement project requires you to properly prepare the workspace and choose the right materials. 

Let’s get started. 

Tools and Supplies You Will Need

Here’s a list of the most important tools and components you will need ready before you start. 


  • Tape measure
  • Cordless drill
  • Crimper
  • Chalk line
  • A sturdy extension ladder
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer
  • Level 
  • Hack saw
  • Tin snips
  • Safety glasses
  • Caulk gun
  • Twist drill bits
  • Pop rivet gun


  • Gutter material 
  • Gutter sealant 
  • Downspouts and elbows
  • Gutter end caps
  • ⅛-inch medium-length rivets
  • 4-inch hole saw bits
  • Nails
  • Drainpipe extensions
  • Downspout U-brackets
  • Flanged nuts
  • Tin snips
  • Fascia brackets
  • Silicone caulk
  • Nails 

Prep Work Before Gutter Installation or Replacement

DIY gutter installation costs substantially less than having them installed professionally, but there are a few pitfalls to watch out for. You should carefully examine the site and plan your installation to prevent accidents and errors, so you don’t incur unnecessary expenses. Preparations include:

  • Pick the right gutter size for your home. Undersized and oversized gutters don’t perform like they should, especially if they’re too small. Too-small gutters will overflow in heavy rains. 
  • Map your gutters out on a piece of paper and clearly outline where everything will go. This will help you determine the tools and materials and the number of fittings you need to get from the hardware store. If you’re replacing old gutters, this plan should also include gutter removal and disposal. 
  • Inspect the fascia and soffits for signs of rotting wood, mold, or mildew. If you find anything, replace the part before putting up your rain gutters. Fascia and wooden boards running under your roof should be solid enough to accept new screws and hold heavy guttering. Consult a roofing contractor for further advice. 
  • Prime and paint bare wood, if you have any. This protects the house and the gutters from damage and prolongs the life of your gutter system
  • Remove crown molding or trim board nailed to the fascia under the shingles, if your house has them installed. They need to go so the gutters can attach to a flat surface. If you don’t wish to remove them, you can add a continuous wooden strip under them to create a flat plane for gutters. Make sure you prime and paint the bare wood before installation. 
  • Time it right. The ideal time for gutter replacement is when the temperatures are warm and precipitation is low. Avoid starting the job if it’s raining because your new gutters will fill up, become heavy, and make the installation challenging. 
  • Plan the drainage. To ensure your gutters work properly, they need to slope towards the downspouts. Plan for at least a quarter inch of slope every 10 feet of gutter. If the gutter runs 40 feet or more, pitch the gutters from the middle toward a downspout at either end of the gutter. Pitching the gutter correctly will help prevent clogs. 

How to Install or Replace Gutters in 9 Steps

Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide to installing or replacing your gutters. 

Step 1: Remove Old Gutters

Rusty gutter
Photo Credit: Jackson Stock Photography / Canva Pro / License

If you’re replacing old gutters with new ones, the first step is to carefully remove the old system. 

Set up your ladder on firm, level ground and rest it about one foot offset from the fascia. Disconnect the downspouts from the gutter and remove them. Use a cordless drill to unscrew hidden hangers. 

Hidden hangers are clips that hold gutters to the fascia board of the house. Your house might have a ferrule or spike in its place. If so, slide a pry bar behind the gutter and tug back to remove them. Don’t rip the old gutters off as it can damage the fascia. 

Note: After removing old gutters, check the fascia and other areas for any damage and make repairs before installing new ones.

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Layout and Slope for New Gutters

Once the old gutters are safely away from the home, it’s time to mark where the new ones will go. 

  • Mark the layout of your new gutter system on the home’s fascia board.
  • Locate the highest point of the slope on the fascia 1 ¼ inches below the metal drip-edge flashing for each gutter run and lightly tap a nail there. 
  • Mark the low ends of the gutter run where you plan to put the downspouts. Remember to mark the slope at least a ¼ inch vertical drop for every 10 feet of gutter. 
  • Fasten a string at one side of the gutter and measure the slope across the area. Snap a chalk line between the two points. 

Step 3: Attach Fascia Brackets

In most homes, rafter tails are marked by nail heads spaced 16 inches apart. 

  • Examine the fascia, locate these rafter tails, and mark your chalk line on every other rafter tail.
  • Use your drill and bore a ⅛ inch diameter pilot hole through the fascia on every mark. 
  • Use ¼ inch stainless steel lag screws, at least two inches long, to fasten your fascia brackets. 

Pro Tip: Rub some soap on these screws so they can easily drive through the fascia to the rafter rails. 

Step 4: Cut the Gutter to Length

person cutting a gutter
Photo Credit: Feverpitched / Canva Pro / License

Climb back down from your ladder because it’s time to use the saw. Make sure you’re dressed appropriately and wearing all the necessary protective gear. Lay all the materials you will need on the ground and get started:

  • Using a hacksaw and aviation tin snips, cut the gutter section to length. You can also use a 12-inch power miter saw with a carbide-tipped finish blade for this.  
  • If your gutter continues around the corner, cut the end at an appropriate angle, which is 45 degrees for a square corner. 
  • If one run needs two gutter sections to get the slope right, overlap them by eight inches. Create two rows of four pop rivets each using your pop rivet gun and join them. You can also use ⅜ inches-long stainless steel, self-taping screws to join them. 

Note: Make sure these rivets are placed on the sides of the gutter instead of the bottom to prevent future leaks. 

Step 5: Attach Gutter End Caps

Set the end cap in place temporarily using a single sheet-metal screw. Drill a ⅛ inch diameter hole at the square-cut end of the gutter. Install an aluminum pop rivet in the hole, remove the temporary screw, and replace it with a rivet, too. 

Seal the rivets and the end cap seams on the inside with a high-quality siliconized caulk gun. This makes sure the joint is strong and durable. 

Step 6: Mark, Cut, and Rivet Downspout Holes

While the gutter is still on the ground, turn the whole thing upside down to make holes for downspouts. 

  • Place a downspout outlet on top of the gutter where you want to cut your downspout. Ideally, this cut should be at the low end of the slope. 
  • Trace the inside of the outlet and mark the downspout hole on your gutter. 
  • Drill a ¼ inch-diameter hole at the center of your marked outline. 
  • Turn over the gutter and cut the downspout hole with your drill and a 4-inch hole saw bit.
  • Set the downspout outlet in this hole and seal it carefully with a gutter sealant

Step 7: Install the New Gutters

Now that we’re done with getting the gutters ready, it’s time to go back up the ladder and mount them. But before you do so, set each gutter section by the ladder in the order they will be installed. This way, it becomes easier for your helper to hand them to you. 

  • Place each run of the gutter into the fascia brackets that you installed earlier along the slope line. 
  • Rotate the gutter upwards to slip its back edge into the hooks at each bracket’s top.
  • Once the gutter is in the brackets, drill  3/26-inch-diameter holes through each bracket’s screw mounting hole. 
  • Secure the gutter with 1-inch stainless steel screws and flanged nuts to the brackets. 
  • If there are multiple sections of the gutter in a run, use a gutter sealant to put them together.

Step 8: Affix Strip Miter Joints at Corners

If two lengths of gutter are meeting at a corner, cover the joint between each with a strip miter. 

  • Use a 3-inch-wide aluminum strip miter and wrap it tightly around the underside of the gutter. 
  • Secure it with eight pop rivets. 
  • Use snips to cut a triangular section from the top of the strip miter, and fold the two flaps around the top edge of the gutter.
  • Seal the joints with a siliconized caulk. 

Step 9: Attach and Secure the Downspouts to the Gutter

Gutter downspout with water
Photo Credit: IcemanJ / Canva Pro / License

You’re almost there. It’s time to attach the downspouts that will carry water away from your house.

  • Screw downspout elbow brackets on the corner board of your home at three points – top, middle, and bottom.
  • Use four pop rivets or screws to attach the downspout outlet to your gutter. 
  • Then, screw a downspout elbow to the outlet tube coming down from the gutter. 
  • Place another elbow against the wall, measure the distance between the two elbows, and cut a piece of downspout to fit there. 
  • Crimp the elbow as needed with needlenose pliers so that it fits the downspout. 
  • Add a drainpipe extension at the bottom that will carry water away from the foundation. 
  • Attach all the parts with screws or pop rivets. 

When To Hire a Pro

Working on a ladder with lots of tools and materials can be dangerous. A few simple installation mistakes can lead to problems or add to the overall cost of the project. Makes you wonder if and when it’s time to call a professional for help. Let’s take a look at both options:

DIY When: 

  • You have some DIY experience and are a handy DIYer generally.
  • You have all the right tools and equipment.
  • You’re familiar with your home’s guttering system.
  • You have plenty of time to devote to this lengthy project.
  • You have a helper who can assist you throughout the process.

Hire a Pro When: 

  • You don’t know the first thing about gutters and don’t know which gutters to get for your home.
  • You are not confident on the ladder due to a lack of experience.
  • Your gutters are still under warranty. Professional installation will cost you nothing. 
  • Your fascia is damaged and needs lots of repairs before new installation. 


What is the easiest type of gutter to install?

Out of all the different gutter types, vinyl and aluminum gutters are the most popular, and for a good reason. They come in pieces that you can easily join together, simplifying installation. Plus, they’re not too heavy, so lifting them on a ladder is not hard.

Is it easy to replace a gutter by yourself?

You need at least one person to assist you when you install or replace gutters since they are long, heavy, and difficult to handle. Your helper will monitor the ladder and hand you the tools and materials you need to mark and mount the gutters on your roof. So, replacing gutters by yourself is not quite easy. 

DIY or Connect With a Local Company

Gutter installation is typically a professional’s job, but there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.  DIY gutter installation definitely costs less than hiring a gutter installation pro. However, it may get challenging if you don’t take care of the steps and safety precautions. 

It’s also important to remember that the appearance and functionality of your new gutters depend on how well you maintain them. Keep up with regular gutter cleaning, installing gutter guards, periodic inspections, etc. to make sure your gutters are in tip-top shape throughout the year. 

And if you don’t feel comfortable going through the lengthy and potentially dangerous steps of this process, you can always contact a gutter pro for help.

Main Image Credit: sturti / Canva Pro / License

Farah Nauman

Farah Nauman is a freelance writer and an accountant. She spends most of her time combating the heat and being a mom to her three fluffy cats and a dozen little Aloe Veras in her house.