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6 Gutter Alternatives That’ll Keep Your House Dry

6 Gutter Alternatives That’ll Keep Your House Dry

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Gutters can be a pain to deal with, no joke. They get clogged more often than you’d like and don’t look exactly aesthetic. However, they’re the most common choice for protecting your house from the rain, which is why most people have them.

You’d be surprised to learn how many gutter alternatives are out there, and they work as well as gutters or even better.

Here’s a roundup of all the gutter alternatives that’ll protect your house’s foundation without compromising its looks!

The Best Gutter Alternatives for Your House

The gutter alternative you choose should be equally functional to keep your house dry. At the same time, it should look more aesthetically pleasing than a basic gutter.

With these considerations in mind, we rounded the best alternatives we could find:

1 – Ground Gutters

Ground gutters serve the same functions as roof gutters, but they’re better for two reasons. For one, they’re underground, so they don’t grab attention or ruin your house’s exterior look.

On top of that, they’re easier to maintain because you won’t have to do any climbing to get to them.

The way they work, ground gutters run underground and receive the water from the drip line. They then redirect it to the driveway or street. Sometimes, they run through a series of pipes to the main sewage line in the area.

People usually install ground gutters along their house’s edges and often grow plants to cover them.

You’d need to do some digging to install ground gutters, and you’ll have to line the trench with waterproof lining. You can always get professional help, but it’s generally a simple process.


  • You can easily hide them by growing some plants
  • They’re easier to clean and maintain
  • They’re less prone to clogging


  • They often call for professional installation because they need a lot of digging
  • They cost a lot to install

2 – Rain Chains

Rain chains may be the most aesthetically pleasing option on this list. They look more decorative than functional, but they do a great work of redirecting rainwater in areas that don’t rain too frequently.

These chains are highly popular in Japan, which is where they originated. If you ever visit the Asian country, you’ll see them in most shrines and temples because of their decorative look.

Rain chains redirect water from the drip line through a chain of decorative cups and into troughs or barrels. They basically use surface tension to drain the water to the ground.

It’s worth noting that rain chains are mostly used as alternatives to downspouts. You can only use them as gutter alternatives if you live in an area with occasional rain. They won’t hold up under frequent, heavy rainfall.


  • They look like a piece of decor
  • They’re not prone to clogging like gutters are
  • They don’t cost much to install
  • Some chains make a relaxing sound when water passes through the cups


  • They’re not suitable for areas with heavy rain
  • For a large house, you’d need to install a lot of chains to get proper drainage

3 – Built-In Gutters

If your only issue with gutters is their appearance, you can opt for built-in gutters instead. They work the same way, but they’re hidden to avoid spoiling your house’s exterior look.

These gutters, sometimes called box gutters, are integrated into the roof structure, which explains why they’re concealed. They’re often placed between two parallel roofs, draining the water through downpipes that lead to a disposal hole.

If you’re lucky, your house will already be built with box gutters, but they’re more common in old houses and historical buildings.

You’d likely have to ask for professional help because the roof needs to be taken apart to install these gutters.


  • They’re less prone to clogging because they’re not cylindrical
  • They’re entirely hidden from sight
  • They’re perfect for areas with frequent, heavy rainfall


4 – Drip Edge

Drip edges are basically L-shaped metal sheets that attach to the roof’s edges and redirect the water away from the fascia. They hang over the roof’s edge, draining the water below at a slow speed and gentle force.

Because of their design, drip edges prevent water from coming close to the house’s sides. In a way, they keep mold from growing because they don’t allow moisture to stay on your walls.

The best use for drip edges would be to install them with your gutters to improve their efficiency. However, you can also use them alone if you don’t prefer how gutters look. They don’t need downspouts because they disperse the rainwater.


  • No risk of clogging or overflowing
  • They keep rodents away from your house’s foundation
  • They prevent water from ending up on your house’s sides
  • You’ll pay a small sum to have drip edges installed


  • The drained water may end up in puddles under your house’s roofline

5 – Drip Path

Drip paths don’t do the same function as gutters. Instead of redirecting the water away from your roof like gutters and rain chains do, drip paths collect the water under the roof and drain it away from the house’s foundation.

They’re made of large bricks or pavers, and they’re often placed directly under the roof line. The slight angle of their construction will direct the water away to prevent it from pooling in your soil.

Sometimes, people fashion their drip paths with pebbles for the sake of aesthetics.

The good thing about drip paths is that they’re pretty easy to install because they don’t have anything to do with your roof, unlike box gutters, for example.

However, that also means they don’t protect the house’s walls from water, so you’re still prone to seeing mold grow.


  • They’re pretty easy to install
  • You can make drip paths using plenty of different materials
  • When made right, drip paths add an appeal to your garden


  • If not made right, they can cause water to pool outside your house

6 – Rain Dispersal System

Rain dispersal systems function a bit similarly to gutters, but instead of directing water to a downspout, they disperse the water into drops that get scattered around your yard. The water still ends up on the ground, but rather than pooling around, it scatters into tiny rivulets with a much gentler force.

These systems are made of louver boards with slatted apertures for dispersing the water. They come in many different shapes but all run on the same concept.

The good thing about these systems is easy maintenance. Without a chance of clogs, you don’t have much maintenance to do except for cleaning the systems occasionally. Some systems even have self-cleaning features, making your life easier.

On top of that, they’re easy to install. If you have a kit or the necessary tools, you won’t need professional help.


  • They’re easy to install
  • They don’t need much maintenance
  • They protect the house’s sides from moisture and potential mold


  • If not installed right, they can cause puddles to form right under the roof line
  • They may not be suitable for tiled roofs

Alternatives to Downspouts for a Better Aesthetic

Let’s be honest; downspouts are unattractive. There’s nothing aesthetic about the downpipes dangling down your house’s sides, but luckily for you, there are some alternatives that work just as well.

Here’s a roundup:

Rain Barrels

If you have rain chains, it’d be ideal to pair them with a rain barrel. It works in a fairly simple way: you install a barrel right under the rain chain so that the water ends up inside. You can then save the water for later use or dispose of it somewhere.

The barrel keeps water from pooling on your ground, and the best part is, it’s an eco-friendly solution.

The only downside to rain barrels is that they don’t always match your house’s exterior look. Having a barrel in your yard may seem odd if your house has a modern exterior!

Single Rain Chain

If you don’t like how rain chains with cups look, you can install a single chain instead. It’s nothing special, merely a metal chain that dangles from your roof to the ground gutter or drains. However, it looks better than a downspout, and you can get different shapes of chains to complement your house’s exterior.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are plenty of gutter alternatives that look better and work just as well. The best alternative to gutters is built-in gutters because they’re concealed and do the same function as regular ones.

The next best option is ground gutters, which can be easily hidden by growing plants over them. They also prevent water from pooling in your yard, which is a bonus.

If you’re opting for a decorative look, rain chains are the answer. They look like pieces of art, and they make a relaxing sound when water passes through them.


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