Rain Diverter Vs Gutter What Are The Differences

Rain Diverter Vs Gutter: What Are The Differences?


March 2, 2022

If your roof doesn’t direct water away from it properly, this can cause drainage problems.

Water can penetrate your roof’s barrier and accumulate underneath its shingles, causing moldy or soggy damage to occur. This is why you should install a rain diverter or gutter. 

Are rain diverters and gutters the same thing?

While they both work to remove water from your roof and home, therefore preventing damage in the form of moisture and leaks, they are quite different.

Which one should you install on your roof?

Here’s what to know about rain diverters vs gutter systems, and which one you should choose for your home. Before we get there, though, let’s explore what you need to know about how water travels down your roof. 

How Does Water Move Off Your Roof? 

How Does Water Move Off Your Roof

Water that strikes your roof will fall off it, creating a waterfall-like effect. This can cause puddles on the ground that seep into the home. Not all of the water will fall off your roof, though.

If there’s no system in place to divert the water, it will accumulate in certain areas of the roof, seeping underneath shingles and damaging them, as well as causing mold, mildew, and rot. 

The roof valley is an easy target for water accumulation. This is the part of the roof where its two slopes connect. It’s a big reason why you need a system in place that will collect rainwater and direct it to the ground, away from your roof where it can cause damage.

How To Maximize Your Roof Drainage

If your roof has a steep slope, water will move down it. You should aim to have slopes of about three or more inches to ensure the water will reach the valleys and gutters successfully. 

By comparison, if you have a low-sloped or flat roof, the situation is a bit riskier because water is more likely to accumulate. That’s why having a gutter system installed at the edges of the roof can help to collect water and carry it away. 

What Are Gutters? 

Rain Diverter Vs Gutter What Are The Differences

Gutters are pieces of horizontal metal that are installed along the eave edges of your roof, or they can be installed along other roof features. Since the gutters are open at the top, they catch rainwater that’s flowing off the roof and then they direct it into downspouts.

These are the closed-off, vertical sections of the gutter ensuring water can be directed to the ground and away from the foundation of your home.

Gutters come in a variety of materials. These include the following:


This is the most cost-effective gutter type. Vinyl gutters are easy to install because their sections snap together. Vinyl is resistant to rot or rust, but can become brittle when exposed to extreme sunshine and cold temperatures over time.


This is also a cost-effective material for gutters, but aluminum gives you lots of options depending on what you want to install. You can get it in a seamless style or in sections that are connected with the use of screws or rivets. Aluminum also comes in different weights, such as light-, medium-, and heavy-weight options. Heavy-weight aluminum lasts longer.


Gutters made of steel are usually coated in zinc or zinc-aluminum alloy to make them resistant to rust. You can also get this in a seamless design or in sections, but the joints need to be soldered. For increased durability, you should choose 26-gauge or thicker steel. 


This is durable and rust-proof. Over time it weathers to become gray in color. Zinc gutter seams are usually soldered, but this can be a tricky process. The great thing about zinc is that it can last for between 30 and 50 years.  

Gutter Pros 

  • Gutters keep water away from your basement because they prevent water from getting too close to the ground that’s around your home. 
  • Gutters prevent mold and mildew from growing on the walls of your home by keeping water away from them. 
  • Gutters can collect water so that it can be used for watering the garden, therefore preventing water wastage. 

Gutter Cons 

  • Gutters can be costly to install, so they might not be affordable for everyone. The U.S. national average cost of having gutters professionally installed is around $1,275. 
  • Gutters can be appealing to birds and insects because they fill with organic debris and water.  
  • Gutters can be an unnecessary expense if your home doesn’t experience a large amount of rainfall. 

What Are Rain Diverters? 

Rain Diverter Vs Gutter What Are The Differences

Some homeowners don’t like the appearance of gutters so they’ll choose rain diverters instead. A rain diverter is a strip of metal that gets installed underneath the roofing to redirect water sideways.

It can be in a “J” or an “L” shape and it can get installed over entryways so that you can enter and leave your home without getting soaked on rainy days. 

As with gutters, rain diverters can be made out of a variety of materials. These include stainless steel, copper, and aluminum. You can also find plastic rain diverters that are made from strong plastic such as PVC. 


  • Rain diverters protect your roof and the ground that’s around your house from water accumulation and damage.
  • Rain diverters prevent mold and mildew from forming on parts of the wall by keeping these structures dry. 
  • Rain diverters are less noticeable than gutters, which prevents them from being an eyesore. 


  • Rain diverters don’t cover the whole roof, so they might not give you complete coverage.
  • Poor installation of rain diverters can result in damage being caused to your roof.  

Main Differences Between Gutters And Rain Diverters

Rain Diverter Vs Gutter What Are The Differences

One of the biggest differences between gutters and rain diverters is that gutters are built to cover the entire roof, whereas rain diverters only cover small sections of the roof. 

Gutters are also always installed at the roof end, whereas rain diverters can be installed at any height or they can be located next to the end of the roof.

Finally, a major difference between these rain-diverting systems is that gutters contain downspouts whereas rain diverters don’t. 

Are Rain Diverters A Good Alternative To Gutters? 

Although we’re comparing rain diverters to gutters to see how they both fare when it comes to their advantages and potential drawbacks, it’s erroneous to assume that you can use a rain diverter instead of a gutter.

Yes, rain diverters can be used in areas of the roof where you don’t want the eyesore of installing gutters, but they can’t be used to completely replace your gutter system.

That said, they do have an additional, practical advantage over gutters in that they can be used over the doorway of the home to prevent water from splattering on the ground or seeping into your home. 

Which One Is Easier To Install?

Which One Is Easier To Install

Whether you have some DIY experience or not, choosing if you need a rain gutter or diverter could come down to how easy they are to install.

A rain diverter is very easy to install. Here are the steps you will need to follow.

  1. Start by climbing the roof and finding the second row of roof shingles, located near the edge of the roof. 
  2. Use a pry bar so you can loosen the shingles. Do this slowly and carefully so you don’t damage the shingles. 
  3. Put the longer side of the rain diverter underneath the shingles you’ve loosened. Don’t leave the end of the rain diverter hanging out. 
  4. Carefully position the rain diverter by centering it over the entry area. 
  5. Take some nails and use them to secure the rain diverter. You should cover the nails with liquid cement to prevent them from leaking. 
  6. Gently push the shingles down and hold them for a few seconds so that they bond securely. 

By comparison, a gutter is more complicated. You have to measure and join the pieces of gutter and remember to purchase downspouts. These ensure the water in the gutters will reach the ground.

Then, you will have to hang the gutters. When doing so, it’s important to slope the gutters so that you prevent water from accumulating in them. You can do this by inserting a nail half an inch below the roof shingles on the high side of your gutter run.

Once you’ve done that, you will have to take some steps to hang the gutters and gutter flashing before installing the downspouts.

The process of installing gutters on your roof can be time consuming and you will require lots of tools to get the job done. This is why it might be best left to the professionals if you don’t have roofing experience. Incorrectly installed gutters can be problematic because they can lead to water leaks.   

Does Your Roof Need Gutters? 

Does Your Roof Need Gutters

Although they’re important to direct water away from your roof and home, gutters aren’t always necessary. If your home doesn’t experience a lot of rainfall, a gutter could be a waste of money and time installing it because it won’t be put to much use.

Similarly, if you haven’t ever had gutters in your home and you haven’t experienced problems such as water damage, then you won’t need gutters. That said, it’s always a good idea to check your roof for any damage from excess water that can slip under the shingles and cause them to rot and loosen.

You also can give gutters a skip if the ground on which your home is built slopes away. For example, if your house is built on a hill, you won’t need gutters because the rain will automatically flow away from your roof and house. Therefore, it’s important to inspect the ground on which your home is built when considering if your home needs gutters.

Related Questions 

When will your roof not need a gutter?

If your roof has a significant overang, this will work well to prevent water from getting into your home. It might make gutter installation unnecessary. 

How should you care for gutters?

Make sure you clear your gutters of debris and snow regularly to prevent them from becoming clogged. When blocked, gutters won’t be able to effectively direct water away from your roof, which will cause water to accumulate and damage your roofing material.

What are some alternatives to gutters and rain diverters? 

There are other options you have at your disposal if you want to direct water away from your home, such as a drip edge and rain chain. These can be used to prevent water from pooling on your roof or causing problems with your home foundations. 


If you’re not sure if you should install a rain diverter or gutter on your roof, hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of how these water systems vary and which one is most suitable for your home.

While both gutters and rain diverters are essential if you live in a region that gets a lot of rain, choosing which one is better for your roof depends on various factors, such as how easily they’re installed as well as their pros and cons, which we’ve featured in this guide.

Don’t take water damage lightly! Protect your roof by having a water-drainage system successfully installed.



James Weldon is a professional roofing contractor with many years of experience on the job. He does not only handle large projects and provide excellent services for his company’s many clients; James Weldon also dedicates his spare time to teaching others useful tricks of the trade. Using BuildCampus as an avenue to reach many roofers and aspiring roofing contractors, James Weldon continues to provide high-quality educational posts and buying recommendations for anyone who visits the website.