How to DIY a Gutter Alternative.

November 21, 2020

garage roof shingles against blue sky

Gutters, man.  They’re typically so unattractive (to me anyway) but yet they serve such a vital function.  What if you could DIY a less obnoxious, less obvious, way less expensive, and way less labor-intensive gutter alternative?

Well!  haHA, I am here to tell ya, you can!  Yay!

Look, I am not claiming this idea is a substitute for gutters, especially in a deluge, so don’t get all up in my junk about that.  But it definitely is a viable option to redirect water from one area away to somewhere else.

Years ago, and I kid you not, years ago, after we installed the spiffy awesome deck, I purchased gutter parts to catch the water running off the garage roof that drips straight down onto our deck.

See, if it's raining, we get doused heading into and out of the garage.  The deck therefore gets extra soaked and that's not good for the wood.  Nor the longevity of the stain I laboriously applied.  Too, the awning we put up gets wetter than necessary.

All disagreeable water-related issues.

And so of course, as one naturally does, I immediately went water = gutters.  

My intention was to put up one gutter along the deck side of the garage and have it drain into the godforsaken rain barrel I never use because I'm a terrible human and could use that water instead of hose water.

As such, I was gonna have a delightful blog post about how to install a gutter.  Where I struggled and probably hurt myself.  As one would expect.  hahaha

But as time would have it, it evaporated and I never got to it.  Honestly though, I just did not want an eyesore of a gutter staring back at me from the garage.

So one day I'm perusing the interwebs for "gutter alternative" and came across this idea from Family Handyman.  And it was exactly Everything.

Revitalized, I returned the gutter parts, well, except for a downspout piece that I ran over with my car since it was on the garage floor, ahem.  Thank you, Menards, for accepting a very old return, for the store credit (keep receipts, people!).  Nearly fifty bucks worth of parts!

Then for a whopping eight dollars, yes, eight dollars, I purchased two style D steel roof edging pieces, ten feet long each.  Eight bucks.  Eight!  Versus fifty!  Sweet.

metal drip edge from store
Did not realize how unhelpful of a photo this was until now.  Oooh, piece of metal maybe?

Oh.  Yes.  So technically it's a drip edge and this website will not only show you its profile better than my damn photos but it will show you how it's typically installed.  But!  If you think outside the box, it can be used other ways.

Ok, I spent a little more cash.  I bought two tubes of quality exterior 100% silicone caulk* in clear, the kind that's solvent clean up, not water.  I've really learned (the hard way of course) that solvent clean up caulk performs infinitely better than water-based.  Hot tip for ya there.

Mmk, picked a time where it wasn't scorchingly hot out, trundled up the ladder with a pry bar* and miscellanea.

First what you need to do is pry up the roof shingles.  

Now.  See.  Mmk.  I was nervous about this, as is very warranted.  Should I have damaged a shingle, that would have been bad.  Had I damaged a bunch of them, Mike might have strung me up.  Redoing the roof shingles because of a lil' escapade on my part is an expense not ever in the cards. 

prying up garage roof shingles
[creaaakkkk] Uuuuhhhhh, yeahhhh, not scary at all?  Uh, totally scary actually.

As such, I came close to breaking some shingles so I opted not to push my luck and sorta rework the exact instructions.  Though I didn't measure, this is about ten or so inches up from the edge of the roof line.

Starting in the middle, I overlapped the two drip edge pieces by a generous margin, slid the long flat sides under the shingles as far as they would go...

overlap drip edging
Almost broken shingle, yep.  A generous overlap between the two pieces there.  Yes, there's a reason they aren't snug together, keep reading.  You can see the shingle gaps I caulked leading into the metal; yeah keep reading.

...then tacked through them with a galvanized roofing nail.*  Moving out to the edges, I then trimmed the pieces to length using some tin snips.*  Easy peasy.

galvanized roof nail tacking drip edge down
Not gonna lie, putting a nail through the roof of our garage was a stomach-turner too.

Moving back to the middle, I worked my way out to the edges, squirting copious amounts of caulk under the metal, tacking down with nails, and making sure I sloped the metal pieces at a slight angle, they're not level nor straight, so rain would drain, not sit.

Once both pieces were down, a quick chat with the neighbor two doors over as he was chuckling at me up on a ladder from way over in his backyard, and it was caulk until I was blue in the face time.  

clear silicone caulk under drip edge
splurrp, caulk baby caulk!  

Caulk down the gaps of the roof shingles that lead into the drip edge, caulk the nails, caulk edges and seams, caulk every-damn-thing.  Think like the water, be the water....caulk accordingly.

Once I was sufficiently sticky, I was done.  This was so much faster and easier than installing a gutter, holy crap.

As viewed from the second floor of the house....voila!  Barely noticeable!  See the how to on the cedar window frame floating shelf planters here!

A few hours later, I shot some water up on the roof with the hose and lo, it worked.  It totally worked!  I was giddy!  Ha!  haHA it works!  Wooo hooo!!!  [butt wiggle dance]

Even better?  No leaks in the garage from my nail holes.  Fist pump, woot!

I do still need to manage the water at both ends as those spots do drip directly onto the deck.  Better only two spots than the whole stretch though, amiright?!  I have some ideas so stay tuned.

So for all of about twenty two bucks (I had the tools and the nails), an hour of my time -ish if that, and tada, a DIY gutter alternative water diverter!  Sweet!

*The 100% silicone caulk, pry bars, galvanized roof nails, and tin snips are Amazon affiliate links.  Mwah, thanks!  Please see the "boring stuff" tab for more info.

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