Eavestrough vs. Gutters: What’s the Difference?

Eavestrough and gutters are nearly identical. They’re so similar in fact, that most people use them interchangeably.

It’s like the tomato/tomato of the gutter world.

This can make it extremely confusing for those who have never heard of the terminology. And to make it even more confusing, there are minor differences between an eavestrough and gutters.

So let’s get into the details.

What is an Eavestrough?

An eavestrough is a channel for water to flow through that’s attached to the eaves. The water is taken away from the home, down a downspout, and into the sewage or drainage system.

The eaves, for those confused, refers to the part of the roof that overhangs from your walls. The eaves protect your home from water damage and create the “drip line”.

The drip line refers to the line where water will land when falling off your roof.

So put simply, an eavestrough is a “trough” that’s attached to the eaves. That sounds a lot like a gutters, right?

Well, that’s where it gets more nuanced.

The Difference Between an Eavestrough and Gutters

GuttersEavestroughs
Any channel that water runs through.A channel that water runs through attached to eaves (or roofline).
Called this in the United States South.Called this in the United States North.
Can refer to gutters on the ground.Can only be on the roofline.

An eavestrough is always considered a gutter, but a gutter is not always considered an eavestrough.

A gutter is a more general term referring to any channel that water runs through. While the eavestrough, on the other hand, can only be attached to the roofline or eaves.

So if you have a gutter that’s at ground level, it’s not an eavestrough. Only when it is attached to the roofline.

So yes, 99% of the time, a gutter = an eavestrough, and you’re pretty safe using them interchangably.

That is, until you see gutters on the ground (which is quite rare), then calling it an eavestrough would be technically incorrect.

Why Is it Called an Eavestrough?

An eavestrough is a Canadian term. It’s created by putting two words together “eaves”, which are the parts of the roof that hang over the walls, and “trough”, which refers to the channel that water flows through.

Hence, eavestrough. But in most parts of the United States, they are simply referred to as gutters.

The small differences in language form due to being geographically separated and having influence from different countries as the language develops over time.

Where Does Name Difference Come From?

Just like how America has different names for soda depending on the region, it’s the same with gutters/eavestroughs.

The North calls soda “pop, while the South calls it “soda”.

With gutters and eavestroughs, the North will call them eavestroughs, while the South will call them gutters. It’s just one of those small differences in dialect based on the area.

It might vary more depending on what part of the United States you live in, but just for general reference, that’s how it usually goes.

It can be confusing if you move and all of sudden people start referring to gutters as eavestroughs, but at least now you know what they’re referring to.

What do Americans Call an Eavestrough?

If your from countries outside of the United States, such as Canada, you probably refer to them as eavestroughs.

In the United States, eavestroughs are called gutters. However, it can depend on the specific area in the United States. For example, in the northern parts, closer to Canada, they may also call them eavestrough.

But the further south you venture, you’ll find more and more people referring to eavestroughs as gutters.

What do Canadians Call a Gutter?

Most Canadians refer to gutters as eavestroughs or eaves gutters. As opposed to the United States where they are referred to as just gutters. This can be confusing if you have just moved to Canada or plan on selling gutters in the area and are met with confusion around the name.

Eavestrough are the preferred method when referring to gutters attached to the eaves.

What is the Difference Between the Downspout and Eavestrough?

When talking about downspouts and eavestroughs, they can commonly get confused with each other.

The eavestrough refers to the section of gutters attached to the eaves or roofline of the home. They are horizontal with a slight slope so that the water that runs off of the roof can be directed to downspouts and away from the home.

The downspouts refer to the vertical pipes that the water runs down where it is escorted away from the home and into the drainage system.

An easy way to remember is eavestroughs are horizontal and downspouts are vertical.

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