Introduction: Rain Gutters Out of 3″ PVC Pipe, DIY How To!
This is a post on how Joe and I created gutters for our house using PVC pipe! So, quite awhile ago, I stumbled on to the coolest thing online: Rain gutters made out of 3″ PVC pipe. Since then I cannot find it online ANYWHERE! The only thing I can find online about it is forums of people like me who want to try it and other people telling them to just hire a crew to put up seamless gutters because apparently: we’re all rich. Not that I wouldn’t love to be able to afford seamless gutters but, seriously, that’s just not our style! On top of that, we just so happened to have enough 3″ pipe leftover that using it for gutters on our house cost us almost nothing!
So, I mentioned the idea to my husband Joe and he got right on board and thought it was a great idea. See, this 100 year old farm house has never had a gutter on it and has never had a water issue. However my poor little flower garden in the front of our house absolutely gets hammered. The summer rains create a trench right down the middle of it and, not to mention, all along the front of our house our hydrangea bush and various other plants get similarly beat up. We decided we would start above our flower garden and, eventually, do the rest of the front of the house too.
The next dilemma was figuring out how to hang/attach it to the eve. (Our eves are only covered by little 1x4s so they wouldn’t be strong enough to hold it so we would need to make certain we hit the ends of the roof joists with whatever screws we used.) I did some looking at pipe hangers etc. because not only have I seen them in hardware stores I’ve also used them but I didn’t find anything I thought would work and also look ok. PVC pipe is very strong so when Joe suggested steel screws (screws made specifically for going through steel) I thought we had a good plan. The screws themselves have hex heads and come with a rubber washer right on them – we even happened to have some leftover from when we did the steel roof on our garage. We had both expected to need to pre-drill all of the screw holes but as soon as we got started we realized it wasn’t necessary – yay for saving a step.
First thing was first though, we had to cut the pvc pipe. Initially we were going to just cut it completely in half so one pipe would make two gutters but the more we talked and thought about it the more Joe and I decided we wanted a “deeper” gutter then that. We took it down to my basement work shop and adjusted the blade on my table saw as high as it would go. You can see how the guide on my table saw is less then an inch from the blade, adjusted like this we cut about 1/3rd off of the pipe – perfect! (This isn’t for the faint of heart and it was quite a pain in the butt with Joe pushing and me pulling – pvc is flexible so getting it to go STRAIGHT through the blade was not an easy task, my workshop still stinks like burned plastic and we were walking through plastic shavings like it was fake snow.)
Step 1: Screwing Your New Gutter Into Place
I held the pipe in position (cheers to us short girls: On my tip toes, in my flower garden, using just the tips of my fingers… sighs) Joe sunk the screws in every other stud through the back inside of the pipe. To get this done we had to have a bit extender on the end of my impact driver or the drill never would have reached fully. Joe was careful not to over tighten the screws but PVC is pretty darned tough and took the screws like a champ.
With the portion above my garden done I can say that this was a brilliant idea that someone had and I would totally endorse it. Joe and I got the pipe cut and hung in less then an hour and BOOM: the problem in our flower bed is only a memory. We had a serious rain storm here just the next day after we got them up and we watched like two little proud kids as a plan actually worked like it was supposed to. We hung the pipe so it slanted toward the porch then drained down into the second pipe that slanted toward our driveway.
Step 2: Finished Gutters
I am so impressed with them! I’m also pleasantly surprised by how nice they look because with no hangers, no parts, no joints etc. they are totally seamless and no one in my family has even noticed that they’re up lol because without looking right at them they’re entirely unnoticeable and I totally love that! I did have to get up there and sand them down to clean them and get the writing off of them (why didn’t I do that before we hung them you ask? Because I apparently like making my life more difficult…) We wanted them white anyway so I didn’t need to paint them but they sell specific plastic paints that I think would probably work great here.
All in we are totally stoked that this worked and was so easy to do! It literally cost us nothing but a little time. However, for the curious, here’s the cost breakdown. One length of 8 foot PVC pipe is around $8 the equivalent gutter in aluminum is $7, the equivalent gutter in vinyl is $4 and the equivalent gutter in steel is $12 and none of that includes the hangers etc that you need for any type of premade gutter to actually attach it to your house. So, do I think I would do this again as opposed to buying actual gutters if I had to actually go out and buy the PVC pipe? YES. I really love how well these work, how they look and how easy it was for Joe and I to do.
(Oh and YES I am fully aware that my eves need to be painted lol, one thing at a time!)
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In my wife's village near Madang, Papua New Guinea, they always use PVC pipe for guttering on corrugated iron roofs. They cut a narrow slit along the length of the pipe just wide enough for the corrugations to fit inside the pipe. The narrow strip is then cut into lengths and used to strap the gutter in position. Among other advantages of this type of guttering is that leaves and other debris tent to flow over the top of the guttering rather than fill and clog it, as usually happens with most other types of gutter. No gutter guard needed!