The Lowdown on Downspouts - When and How to Paint Gutters and Downpipes

This past summer I spent a lot of time thinking about gutters.

There are probably a lot more interesting things to be thinking about. But if you are having your house painted, gutters and downspouts can be high on your list of questions and this year it seemed every project I was involved with had some issue regarding them.

The biggest question from homeowners was “should we paint them?”

In most cases I tell homeowners that it doesn’t make sense to go to the expense of painting your house and trim to then have it all edged out it grimy gutters.

Do not underestimate how noticeable gutters and downpipes can be on most houses. Gutters are a significant fixed feature on your house (unless they are the hidden kind).

I say they always need to be repainted when:

  1. they look like they need to be painted and cleaning them doesn’t bring them back to something close to their original condition.
  2. they are a colour that doesn’t match the same undertone of the new trim colour.

If they are due for replacement, getting them done before or during the exterior painting process makes sense, especially if your painter has the chance to paint the gutter boards once the old gutters are removed and before the new ones are installed.

What about Colour?

If you are replacing them, chances are you are limited to a choice of colours. In that case, I always recommend that you go with the colour that matches either the roof or the trim. Choose your trim colour after you have picked your gutter colour. It’s easier than doing it the other way around.

If you are painting your gutters simply paint them your trim colour.

Black or White?

Black or dark gutters will look better longer than white ones will but they are far more pronounced so make sure if you choose black it ties in with other features of the house.

Getting the Lowdown on Downpipes

While choosing gutter colours is pretty straight forward, downpipes are a whole other ball game. There are so many variables that most homeowners don’t know what to do.

The rule is generally when you are replacing downpipes or repainting them if the downpipes are placed along the trim, match the colour to trim. If your downpipes are flush against siding, match them to siding colour.

What if half of your downspouts are along trim and half are along siding? 

Pick the colour that the majority of your downspouts are up against and go with that colour. Or pick the colour that the downspouts that are most visible from the street.

Can you mix downspout colours on a house? 

Generally the rule is one downspout colour – majority rules. The exception is when you are dealing with a house with a lot of trim of details. Heritage houses are a perfect example. The last thing you want downspouts to do is detract from the beauty of a house.

I have had this argument many times and I stand behind my position. Downspouts are not an architectural detail on a house or a building. Don’t highlight them in an unrelated colour or change the colour of a downspout halfway down it, even if it it crosses a colour that is different. Keep it simple and let the details of the house shine.

And for goodness sake do not ever paint the downspouts while they are on the house. I drove by the below house this summer and was so shocked that a professional painter (he even had a sign on display in front of the house) had done this, I had to stop and take a picture. This is how to get your house featured in my Not So Nice in My Neighbourhood series.



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