Quick ‘N Dirty Aluminum Gutters

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Do you keep coming home and watch as terrific rainwater pools in a long line in front of your beautiful chicken coop or shed? Now you TOO can harness the awesomeness that is: gutters!

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This is a great project where you can stock up on supplies throughout the week and hammer/cut/ and caulk everything before dinner. The downspout would add another .5-1 hour including cleanup but can be done at a later time

Super Basic Design-

  • 2 hour build
  • $40-80 (depending on materials and your winter climate)

This is a no frills build for a roof-line shorter than 10 feet on the end. You’ve got water that needs to get from your roof to your rain barrel, or wherever you need it to go. The example I use in this case is our chicken coop, which has badly needed a gutter for the last 2 years. I’m simply slinging up a gutter with an outlet that will drain into our rain barrel.

quick n dirty gutters- tools and materials


Tools you’ll likely need:

As you will be able to tell in this and future posts, I tend to favor hand tools when possible. They are quieter, able to be used with heightened sensitivity, and are powered by yummy meals instead of running up our electric bill. That being said, we all have busy lives and time management demands we make our own calls so please do whatever makes most sense to you! For the sake of brevity, though, I won’t try to note every single opportunity you can swap out a hand tool for a power tool. Having a buddy nearby helps for gutters longer than 5ft as they can get a bit unwieldy.

  • Marker or Pencil to mark up your cuts
  • Tin Snips to cut your gutter down to size
  • Hammer or Mallet to cut out the hole for your “gutter drop outlet” (a big-box store term for the hole where water flows out from your gutter)
  • Wood Cutting Chisel to cut out the hole for the “gutter drop outlet” (I would use my least favorite chisel)
  • Screwdriver or Nutdriver to install the gutter hangers
  • Pliers to pinch your gutter end caps on tight
  • Damp Rag towards the end so you can wipe away any excess caulk
  • Pocket Knife for those with rain-barrels to cut your screen filter to size
  • Level* to get that perfect rain-draining pitch, especially on lengths longer than 4ft
  • Tape Measure* for good measure
    *since my gutter was so short I decided to eyeball my measurements
  • Cloth Gloves* for the tetanus-averse (or one glove for MJ fans out there)


  • Gutter ($10-13.50 for a 10ft length) to get that water where you need it
  • Gutter Hangers ($1-3/each) to hang it all up, but spacing is key:
    -Northern climates with icy winters- one/18in (or 1.5ft)
    -Southern climates with mild winters- one/36in (or 3ft)
  • Gutter Drop Outlet ($2) to guide that beautiful rainwater into your rainbarrel instead of into an unplanned trench of sadness and despair
    (Gutter End with Drop Outlets will not be covered here but they may be addressed in a more thorough post on gutters later)
  • Caulk (~$6) to seal up your seams; just make sure its good for gutter applications like an outdoor silicone or butyl -based type, I would use a squeezable tube with twist cap so you can save the rest for later
    Downspout components:
  • Downspout ($10)- depending on how far your water needs to shoot down to reach your rain-barrel if you have one
  • Downspout Elbow (~$3)- A or B model depending on your downspout’s orientation
  • Self-Tapping Screws (~$1)- Just two, 5/16 in X .5in long
  • Windowscreen (~$6) for those with rain-barrels
  • Gutter Strainer (~$3) to keep debris from entering your downspout
  • 3ft of string ($2)- we just use the polyethylene twine saved up from cutting out hay-bales
  • A stick about the thickness of your thumb and roughly 6-8 inches long (this one’s typically free)


  1. Take your gutter and mark out how long it needs to be by either measuring it out or holding it up and eyeballing it. I would give the gutter a 1/4in overhang on either side of your roof line. Mark it!
  2. Check your measurement again and then cut your gutter as cleanly as you can
    -I find on these K-style gutters, that its easier to make my first cut to the first right-angle I come across, make another cut to cut out a pie piece (as shown), and then cut onward, bending the scrap end down as I go
  3. Take your perfectly fitting gutter back to your roof line, hold it up, find the best place to put your downspout, and mark up the spot where you will be putting your gutter drop outlet
  4. Find a scrap piece of wood, place it under your gutter where you marked a spot for the drop outlet, and use your chisel to cut along the line- start on the inside of the line because you can always make the hole bigger later. If you start too big, its a huge pain to plug that space back up with scrap gutter pieces
  5. Dry fit your drop outlet and make any necessary adjustments
    quick n dirty gutters- step 5
  6. Now you can grab your gutter, gutter hangers, screwdriver, and level to install your hanger-gutter combo with the desired pitch:
    -For gutters with a central downspout, nice-n-level works great
    -For gutters with a downspout closer to one end it would be better to have a slight pitch that would direct your water towards the outlet, i.e. having your level’s bubble at or just barely past the first line on it going away from your downspout
  7. Fasten your hangers with the gutter attached to it to your fascia or wall (if the surface you’re attaching it to is metal be sure there is wood or some other material that your screw can bite into)quick n dirty gutters- step 7
  8. Next step is to dry fit your end caps to make sure nothing warped during installation and that they will install smoothly after you caulk them up
    -If something has warped (usually metal gutters do), make sure your screw isn’t set in too tight; you can always use your hands to warp the gutter back into shape if everything else looks good
  9. Now that your dry fit looks good, time to caulk up the insides of your end cap seams, install them, crimp the ends with your pliers, and wipe away any excess with a damp rag, one end cap at a time
  10. Caulk the bottom of your drop outlet and install- be sure it has enough drying time to cure before it gets soaked with rainwater
  11. Finally, you can set up your rain barrel underneath just in time for that dinner bell! Continue below for directions on downspout installation…
    quick n dirty gutters- finished product
  12. Size up the ideal length of your down spout, mark it with your thumb
  13. Shorten the length by 2 inches to make some room for your downspout elbow and use your tin snips or hacksaw to cut it down to length. Measure twice then cut!
  14. Watching for the sharp edges, hold your downspout up to the gutter drop outlet and use the nut driver to start sinking in your self-tapping screws so that it stays in place even while being worked on- but don’t tighten them all the way just yet!
  15. Now take your pliers and pinch in the bottom of your downspout so that your elbow can fit on that much easier
  16. Wedge on your downspout elbow to the end of your downspout- you shouldn’t need screws to keep it in place and this allows for easy removal if you have to clean out your rain-barrel or rain diverter underneath
  17. Now you can take your universal gutter strainer and install it at the top of your downspout, then finish tightening up the screws securing the downspout
  18. For those with rain-barrels: Grab your window screen, throw it over the top of your rain-barrel, and place your string around the lip of the barrel pinching the window screen in place
  19. Tie a knot on the string with enough room to shove a stick between it and the barrel with a finger’s space of room in between
  20. Twist up the stick until the sting is holding your screen snugly in place
  21. Cut away the excess with your knife and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Did you try it out?  Have any other tips for quick gutters? We’d love to hear them!