Your gutters are in poor shape and could really do with a replacement. You’re thinking that it can’t be all that hard to install new gutters, especially if you can save money by doing the job yourself. Is this a suitable DIY project or one that’s better left to the pros?
You can replace gutters yourself with only a handful of supplies and one day of your weekend. Vinyl gutters are the easiest to work with, and they’re inexpensive. If you’d rather not climb a ladder and finagle with pipe cutters or corner joints, it costs around $1,800 for professional gutter replacement.
In this article, we’ll more closely examine whether you should replace your home’s gutters yourself, including how much cheaper it is for a DIY job and whether this project is difficult. If you decide you’d rather do it yourself, we’ll even present step-by-step instructions for how to replace your gutters.
Let’s get started!
Should You Replace Your Gutters Yourself?
Owning a home means there’s no landlord to fix things for you, but that doesn’t necessarily require you to repair everything yourself. As you’re debating whether to call a gutter company or replace your gutters on your own, several factors are going to come into play. These are cost savings, labor, time, and degree of difficulty.
We’ll go through each factor now to discuss how feasible DIY gutter replacement is.
One of the most appealing benefits of any DIY job is saving money. Keeping that in mind, how much would you spend on the gutters?
According to HomeAdvisor, here are the costs of gutter materials by type (priced per piece):
- Copper – $25 to $40
- Stainless steel – $9 to $20
- Aluminum – $6 to $12
- Vinyl – $3 to $5
As we touched on in the intro, vinyl is the most DIY-friendly gutter material. That’s not only due to how inexpensive it is but that it’s easier to work with compared to metal.
If you’re doing a gutter replacement yourself, then besides the gutters, you need other supplies. We’ll talk more about this later, but those supplies include a ladder, gutter sealant, flashing shingles, a level, a pipe cutter, end caps, corner joints, a downspout, a hammer, nails, and hanging brackets.
Using a miter saw helps, but you can also go without, and since you’re trying to save money, we’ll forego its inclusion.
We’ll also assume you have a ladder, a hammer, and nails, as most homeowners do, but maybe you’re missing the other supplies. How much do they cost? Here’s a list with general estimates on price:
- Gutter sealant – $8
- Flashing shingles – $15 to $25 per linear foot
- Level – $12
- Pipe cutter – $55
- End caps – $8 each
- Corner joints – $13 each
- Hanging brackets – $5 each
Now let’s compare those costs to the price of professional gutter replacement. HomeAdvisor says that gutter replacement costs on average $1,890, which is even higher than their average estimate for the job, which is $588 to $1,558.
Labor is the amount of effort put into the installation work. If you’re DIYing a gutter replacement, then you don’t have to worry about labor fees. However, what you’ll save in money, you will spend in physical effort.
After all, to replace your gutters, you’ll have to take down what’s currently attached to your home and then put up new ones. This involves you being up several feet high on a ladder, which can be nerve-wracking.
If you decide to forego doing the job on your own, then the cost of a gutter that’s between 125 and 200 feet can be $2,400 with labor rolled in.
The time it takes for installation is usually included with a contractor’s labor costs. You’d save time by letting a pro do your gutter replacement, but if you decide to go the DIY route, how long would this job take you?
Obviously, the more experienced you are with the various parts of a gutter, the faster the work will go. If your home is small or medium-sized, then you might be able to put up your new gutters within four hours. For those DIYers with larger homes, you’re looking at anywhere from three to eight hours for gutter replacement.
Eight hours is a long time to commit to a home improvement project, and it’s not like you can quit midway through and leave your gutters hanging. If you don’t mind losing out on a whole day of your weekend though, this DIY project could be right for you.
Gutter replacement contractors are trained, so for them, this job isn’t difficult. As for you, this could be your first time working with your gutters. You might find it hard to fit together all the pieces, which can make a project that’s supposed to take four to eight hours require at least twice that much time.
The Pros and Cons of Replacing Gutters Yourself
Now that you’ve seen some cold, hard numbers, the temptation to replace your gutters yourself might be stronger than ever. Before you jump right in, make sure you read this pros and cons section. It’s full of information that will be highly useful to you!
- Money Savings
The biggest advantage by far of replacing your gutters is that you’re saving money. Even if you bought high-end tools, if you add up the costs of everything you need for DIY gutter replacement, you’re majorly reducing your costs compared to hiring a professional.
- Makes You a More Handyman/Woman
Once you successfully replace your gutters, when the time inevitably comes for it to happen again, you’ll be ready. Even better, your prior gutter experience will make you feel handier around the house. You might even tackle some of those other difficult jobs that need doing!
- Easily Accessible Materials
All the parts you need for gutter replacement are available at your local home improvement store or online. These aren’t complex tools either, which might further incentivize DIYers.
- Only Takes One Day
We’re not going to say that gutter installation is a short, quick job, because it isn’t. However, you only have to dedicate a day to it, and that’s not too bad in the grand scheme of things.
- Need to Work at Great Heights
Most of the time spent replacing your gutters will require you to stand on a ladder. You won’t be able to keep both hands gripping the ladder since you’ll need to use your hands to fit together the gutter parts.
If you’re someone who gets nervous about heights, then maybe it’s better to pass on doing this job yourself.
- Requires Gutter Expertise
Lots of jobs around the house are those you can pick up and do well enough even if you don’t have tons of experience. Homeowners generally agree that gutter replacement is not one of those jobs. Gutters can be complex, so if they leave you scratching your head, it’s again a good idea to hire a professional.
- Incorrect Installation Can Come Back to Bite You
We hate to put pressure on you, but messing up your gutter replacement can lead to lots of trouble down the line. If you don’t screw the parts in tightly enough, they can come loose in a bad storm. An incorrect gutter pitch can cause your lawn to flood. If your gutter is too small, it will fall right off in bad weather.
DIY Gutter Replacement Steps
If by this point, you’re still confident in your ability to replace your home’s gutters yourself, here are the steps to follow.
After climbing your ladder, find the tallest part of your fascia’s gutter run. This area should be 1 ¼ inches under the drip-edge flashing. If your home doesn’t have flashing, then the fascia here will be wider than the rest of the roof.
Then, where your downspout should go, find the gutter run’s lower area and mark it. For every 10 feet of the gutter run, the slope of your gutter should be half an inch.
Beyond the fascia, you should see rafter tails spaced out 16 inches from the center. Nailheads will reveal the location of the rafter tails. Using chalk, mark every second raft tail. Then make a pilot hole into the rafter tails that’s 1/8 inches deep.
Attach stainless steel lag screws, each screw ¼ inches, two inches deep into the fascia.
If your new gutter isn’t appropriately sized, you can use a miter saw or power tools to cut it. For gutter runs that require several gutter pieces, they need an overlap of eight inches. Pop rivets or stainless steel self-tapping screws, each screw 3/8 inches, will hold the gutter pieces in place. Add two rows of screws with four screws in each row.
Now it’s time to connect the end caps to the gutter pieces. Look for the gutter’s square-shaped end and then attach the end cap using aluminum pop rivets. The end cap should be rounded.
You’ll need to drill into the end cap, making a hole with a diameter of 1/8 inches for each pop rivet. If you used a temporary screw to keep the end caps in place until now, take them out.
Use caulk around the inside of the gutter on each seam between the end caps and the rivets. This will make the gutters waterproof.
Plan the placement of the downspout outlet by turning your gutter over and putting the outlet over it. Then mark the outlet area with chalk, drilling a hole that’s ¼ inches deep into that outline.
On the other side of the gutter, make a bigger hole that’s four inches in diameter using a cold chisel and a hammer. Much more easily, a hole saw works for this step.
You’re getting closer to the finish line now. Your gutter is pieced together, so next, you want to install it. To do so, lay it over the screwed-in brackets, attaching the gutter to your fascia. You might have to turn the gutter a bit so its back edge aligns with the bracket hooks.
When you’ve got the gutter in place, make a hole that’s 3/16 inches in diameter on the gutter’s front edge. Then use a steel machine screw, #8-32, installing it into the flanged nut to keep the gutter in place.
Next, add a piece of aluminum to put over the gutter joints. The strip miter should have a width of at least three inches. Put the strip firmly around the gutter’s underside, securing it with eight sheet-metal screws. Pop rivets work as well.
If your strip miter has a triangular area near the top, you can trim it and then caulk the pieces together.
To wrap up the gutter installation process, attach your downspout outlet to your gutter, securing it with four screws or pop rivets. Add a downspout elbow to your outlet tube. You can also install a second elbow, this time against your home, but you’ll need an extra piece of downspout to secure the elbows.
Replacing your home’s gutters yourself is a doable job, but it’s not an easy one. Having some gutter experience will reduce your rate of mistakes.
The average price of gutter replacement is a little over $1,800, so if you have a rainy-day fund for home expenses, you can use the cash to hire a professional. This way, you can be sure the job is done correctly the first time!