6 Alternatives to Gutter Downspouts

Let’s face it, downspouts are ugly (sometimes).

Nobody wants a big clunky downspout poking into their landscaping and creating an eyesore for the whole neighborhood to see. Especially if it’s on the road facing side of your home or located next to your front door.

The downspouts just feel out of place and can ruin the look of your home. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that can change that eyesore of a downspout into something actually looks natural and makes your home more fun and stylish and will boost curb appeal.

The best part? These downspout alternatives work just as good as a normal downspout and are super easy and cheap to install with a little weekend DIY (or with a contractor if you don’t want to lift a finger).

Without further adieu, let’s jump into the list of downspout alternatives.

1. Rain Chains

examples of rain chains
Examples of rain chains, photos via Canva.com

Ah yes, the classic rain chain. It’s hard to beat this one.

It’s functional, it’s stylish, it’s customizable. It’s easy to imagine why this the first alternative most think of when replacing their ugly downspouts.

Rain chains have been around since the dawn of time (and for good reason). Initially used in Japanese architecture, the rain chain offers an effective way to channel water out of your gutters and away from your homes siding, foundation, and landscaping.

At first glance, it doesn’t really look like a rain chain would do anything. It looks like the water would just bounce right off and not do anything, but that’s actually far from the truth.

There are few things more mesmerizing than watching the rain fall down a rain chain, it looks almost magical as the water sticks to the chain and gets channeled to the location of your choosing.

What’s amazing about rain chains is there are so many different styles and designs to choose from. You can go for a copper or golden look, you can go for a silver aluminum look, you can go for a specially designed chain with a variety of shapes, or you could even do multiple chains if you’re feeling spunky (this actually helps if you get a lot of rainfall).

If you’re interested in checking out rain chains, you can usually find them at a local hardware store or just by searching around on the internet. On Etsy you can find a huge amount of different ideas and options from rain chains in the shape of pinecones, mushrooms, rings, fish, and more.

Different strokes for different folks, you know how the saying goes.

2. Rain Barrels

examples of rain barrels
Examples of rain barrels, photos via Canva.com

This might be a little out there, but stay with me here. Instead of using your downspout, you could put a big ‘ol barrel instead of a downspout. I know, I know, it sounds a little strange.

You’re probably looking for downspout alternatives so you can hide your ugly downspouts and now I’m recommending you replace it with a barrel in your front yard. You’re probably already imagining the raised eyebrows from your neighbors.

But let me expand your brain a bit here. Barrels can be attractive. Barrel can be stylish. Barrels are life.

Ok, I took it a bit too far there.

Being serious, a rain barrel is actually a great solution if you want to catch rain water and reuse it water your plants, saving you precious money on your electricity bill.

Plus if you use in conjunction with a rain chain, you get a stylish eco-friendly combo that will appease your HOA and make all of your neighbors think about how forward-thinking you are.

Wow, so cool” – your neighbors.

If you do put a rain barrel in to catch your rain water, you can nerd out and make a whole automatic watering system based around rain water. This can make for a fun project to work on over the weekends with your spouse and can you save you in the long run. (This whole thing is actually a huge rabbit hole that I just spend a little too much time watching videos about).

3. Drip Path

pavers and rocks

While not exactly a downspout alternative, this one can be used instead of gutters along the sides of your home. A drip path is a super stylish way to manage the water flow that falls off of your roofline.

Instead of the water falling into your grass and creating muddy pockets that look ugly and tear up your grass, you can install path there instead. Pretty cool, huh?

With a mix of your favorite looking pavers and some interesting irrigation rocks, you can get a modern looking design that is both functional and attractive.

You could say goodbye to gutters and downspouts, talk about two birds with one stone.

Who doesn’t like playing hopscotch as you skip across the pavers on a nice sunny day? And when it rains, you’re covered as well because your a smart cookie and your path is actually made for the rain.

The biggest downside to this sort of setup is the amount of work involved removing the grass, leveling the area, installing the pavers, and hauling in all of the rock.

But once it’s done, your home will be the belle of the ball in your neighborhood.

4. Flip Up Downspout

Graphic of a flip out rain gutter

Now this downspout alternative is not a full-on replacement, but it works as a great way to minimize the footprint of your downspout.

Instead of your downspout taking up a bunch of space and being a massive eyesore, you can hide it somewhat. Now it’s not a perfect solution, I’ll be the first to admit that, but it’s better than nothing.

So instead of having a long downspout poking through all of your cool landscaping, when the weather is nice, you can simply fold it up and hide it. When it looks like a storm is approaching you can extend it to prepare for the onslaught of rain.

I would say this flip up downspout is a nice middle ground between going ham and replacing the whole thing with a rain chain and keeping the whole downspout.

But ultimately, you need something to channel the rainwater, right?

Note: Here is a guide to how many downspouts you actually need.

The biggest downside to this flip-up style of downspout is it’s really easy to forget to fold and unfold it when the rain is ‘a coming. Luckily, this next one is the perfect solution to that problem.

5. Roll Out Downspout

Ok, the roll out downspout is like a supercharged version of the flip-up downspout. It has the same functionality, but it’s… totally automatic *gasp*.

Yep, you read that right. Instead of having to flip up and flip down the downspout every time it rains, this downspout operates fully on it’s own. And it doesn’t take any fancy technology either.

When it rains, after a while, enough water will enter your downspout. When this happens, the weight of the rainwater will put enough pressure on it and force the rubber “roll out” section to extend and release the rainwater.

And when the rain stops, the downspout will automatically contract and roll back up on it’s own. Almost like magic. It works just like how a party blower does.

Image from Canva.com

This can significantly reduce the footprint of the your downspout and you can control the flow of rain water even better. So if it rains, the water gets channeled out past the rest of your landscaping to the location of your choosing.

The biggest downside to this style of downspout, is the bottom of the downspout will be made of a flexible material (usually rubber) and it can look a little ugly to some. Not to mention, the rubber bit will usually need to replaced more often than the rest of your gutters which can be a pain.

Extreme weather, you know, heat and cold, can really wear it down fast. But luckily for us, this next downspout alternative does not have that issue due to it’s simple design.

6. Underground Downspout

underground downspouts
Image via Canva.com

Imagine if all of your downspouts were invisible. That would sure be nice, huh?

Well, this is the closest thing to invisible downspouts, you can hide them all underground!

This style of downspout has massive benefits, first of all, you’ll never need to see your downspouts again. Second, you choose where you want the water to be drained, so the rain water can be channeled super far away from your expensive foundation leaving it well protected in the rainiest of seasons.

And third, this setup gives you the ultimate control. You are the master of water and your home is domicile. Ok, a little too dramatic, I know.

This setup is great for those who don’t want to see where the water gets dumped, ever. It’s a bit more of a project, but once it’s done, it’s done. You’ll need a bit more planning to figure out where to dig and place the downspouts, and you’ll need more pipes to channel the water, but it’s 100% possible to DIY (or hire a contractor for).

There are a few cons to this setup, though. You have to make sure the entire section of pipe is channeling the water downhill or else your entire downspout system will cause your gutters to backup and overflow.

Not to mention, because everything is buried underground, basic maintenance can be more costly and troublesome. Underground downspouts that are clogged are no fun to fix.

And in some scenarios, if there is a big freeze, your downspouts can freeze up. Then if it gets followed up with a large storm, your entire drainage system no longer works and you’re out of luck. Definitely a bummer.

But with the proper planning and the right expectations, this setup can work really well.

Which Gutter Downspout Alternative Should You Pick?

Picking the right downspout alternative mainly comes down to what you’re looking for. Here are few great questions to ask yourself to help clarify what this project is and what steps you are going to take.

Do you want a project that’s quick, fun, and easy? Are you looking to get rid of your downspouts altogether?

Is this a massive redesign of your homes look and functionality?

What is my budget like?

These types of questions will help in your pursuit of a more beautiful and functional home and to that end, I salute you. Good luck with your next downspout project.

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