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

Posted by: Heidi Nyline

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).

No amount of cleaning was going to fix the gutters on this historical house in Surrey. The solution was simple. Paint them.

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.

These homeowners chose the roof colour first, then the gutter colour and lastly we found the perfect trim colour to compliment both. This is the right order to choose your house colours.

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.

Black gutters on this house are dramatic but they work because of the black roof, trim, fence, front door and blacktop driveway. This house will look fantastic for years to come. Notice also the painted out downpipes.
Below, newly installed black gutters provided a perfectly straight line and a white gutter board was possible and stunning.

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.

When picking the colour for your downpipes, go with the majority. The red downpipes helped let the trim and details of this house be the standout feature.

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.

This lovely house we painted this summer had a corner trim board and most of the downspouts were well placed along the trim board, except for this one. Being that this house sat on a corner lot and the downspout was about a foot away from the corner trim board, painting it white would have detracted from the trim details. The solution was to paint it the siding colour. All the other downspouts were painted out in the trim colour.

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. 

Even though these downspouts were new, leaving them white wasn't an option. Their placement on the front of this house meant blending them in to the siding was essential.

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 is 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.


Such a cute house. Such a shame they hired a lousy painter. I can't decide what is worse, painting the house while leaving the downpipes in place or leaving the Chrismas lights dangling.


Posted by: Vanessa Rider
I really enjoyed this article- I have often felt perplexed about gutter colors, And I agree with you on blending the downspouts. That last pic is a doosey with the Christmas lights up!


Thanks Vanessa.

Glad you found the advice to be helpful.

Posted by: kristie@thedecorologist
Awesome job, as usual! You made all the right choices, and the finished house looks great - gutters, downspouts, and all!


Thanks Kristie.

I love it when you stop by and comment. You always say such nice things. :)

Posted by: Jill Wallace
Helpful and concise article. It's in the details!


Thanks Jill.

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