How to Paint Gutters

All houses do not need gutters, but the majority do to help capture and direct stormwater away from the house when it lands on the roof.  Since gutters are subject to all kinds of weather, they can rot, rust, or peel depending on the material used.  What may be considered a beautiful home can become an eyesore if the gutters are not properly maintained.

One way to keep your gutters appealing is to paint them.  How do you paint gutters?   There are a number of steps you must follow to paint your gutters.  

  • Decide whether to remove gutters (recommended)
  • Prep the gutters
  • Apply the first coat of paint
  • Apply the final coat of paint
  • Reinstall the gutters

Today, we’ll be exploring everything you’ll need to know about how to paint gutters. From the proper equipment to breaking down the prep, we’ll have you covered.

Equipment You Will Need for Painting Gutters

Before you get started with painting your gutters, here is a list of materials you will need.

  • Water hose
  • Sander
  • Soap and water
  • Oil-based enamel
  • Primer (acrylic bonding or oil-based/ammonia-free)
  • Scrub brush
  • Sponge
  • Ladder
  • Acrylic or latex paint
  • Paintbrush, roller or sprayer

In terms of what is better for the job between a brush or a roller, we recommend our article here. You will always need a paint brush, but depending on your gutters, one or the other could do a better job.

Should You Remove Gutters Before Painting Them?

Removing gutters before painting is an option, especially if you do not want to spend too much time high up on a ladder.  If you do not remove the gutter braces, you may not be able to reach in between all the nooks and crannies, to make sure the paint job is uniform.

It is not always practical to remove gutters to paint them, but it can sometimes be easier when laying them on a flat surface.  Take into consideration if you are painting the entire system or just a few sections.

Five Steps to Prepare Gutters for Paint

Many people think they can just take a brush and start painting.  If you do not prep gutters before painting them, the paint will look good at first, but end up peeling and falling off later. Taking time to prep will save you the headache of having to redo gutters in the near future.  Prepping the gutters can be accomplished in five easy steps.

Clean Gutters

The best way to clean gutters is by scrubbing them with good old-fashioned dish soap and water.  Because gutters are outdoors year-round in various elements, they accumulate much grime and dirt.  If they are not cleaned well, the paint will not stick.

Some specialists recommend pressure washing gutters; however, this often leaves a residue that you may not notice at first.  Painting over the residue can result in an uneven paint job that will peel and bubble during excessive heat or rain.

If you pressure wash, also use a bristled scrubbing brush and sponge to ensure that your gutters are cleaned thoroughly.  Allow approximately 4-6 hours drying time after cleaning.

Strip Old Paint

Use a plastic putty knife to scrape off any old paint that might be present on the gutters.  Plastic is better than a steel wire or metal brush because it will not scratch the gutters.  If you have difficulty scraping old paint off, try using a paint stripper chemical.  Only dab on small amounts where needed and use a face mask and gloves to protect you from the fumes.

Sand Gutters

Sandpaper will help remove any remaining paint and rough patches as well as help the new paint stick by creating a smooth surface.  After sanding is complete, use a wet cloth or hose to remove additional residue created by scraping and sanding.  Check for smoothness by running your hands across the gutters.

Seal Joints

After you have cleaned and sanded the gutters, check to see if there are any loose seams or joints. Many gutters use intersecting parts to connect the system.  They include:

  • Downspouts
  • End caps
  • Elbows
  • Drop outlets

These pieces help divert water away from your house and foundation.  Making sure they are tightly sealed can prevent future leaks.  If you have seamless gutters, this step is not required.

Prime Gutters

After cleaning your gutters, always prime them before using paint.  Priming prepares the surface to accept paint.  If you use paint without primer the paint may damage the gutter, causing it to fade quickly, peel or even rust.

Make sure the gutters are completely clean and dry before applying primer.  Apply a thin coat of primer which will enable the topcoat of paint to go on evenly and smoothly.

Clear acrylic bonding primer is the best primer, especially for aluminum.  You can also use an oil-based primer.  Be sure to use an ammonia-free primer on aluminum; otherwise, you will end up with gas bubbles on the gutters.  Wait at least two days before applying paint, which will allow time for the gutter to absorb the primer.

Optional Step Before Applying Paint

This step is not required, but it is a good idea to apply enamel paint for an extra layer of protection.  Enamel paint is hard and strengthens the gutter even more before applying paint.  People often confuse enamel paint and painted enamel, but they are two different things.  Enamel paint is heavy-duty material that prevents gutters from rusting, and painted enamel is used mostly for decoration.

Using a paint sprayer often results in overspray, which means paint gets onto other parts of the house.  This is a big concern when it comes to spraying not only gutters but anything.  One option for gutters is to line them with cardboard shields. This keeps overspray from going onto the roof.

Apply the First Coat of Paint

Now that you have finished prepping the gutters, you are ready to paint them.  Latex-based and oil-based paints work best on gutters.  Choose a color that complements your home.  You can use a paint sprayer initially and then correct any runs with a paintbrush but apply thinly and evenly.

Apply the Final Coat of Paint

It’s a good idea to give the first coat about 24 hours to dry before applying the final coat.  This will result in a more even finish.  Apply the final coat in the same way as the first coat – thinly and evenly.  You can touch up any missed spots with a small paintbrush after everything is completed.

Reinstall the Gutters

If you removed the gutters to complete the paint job, you are now ready to reinstall them after everything is dry and touched up.  This is not a simple task and can be the most challenging part of the project. It must be done accurately in order to ensure that the system works properly.

Things to Consider Before Painting Gutters

Painting your gutters using these steps can take your home from drab and dreary to an amazing polished look!  However, before you put paintbrush to gutter, assess whether you need a paint job or new gutters.  If you see a substantial amount of rust in a number of places, most likely you need to replace the gutters.

Five Signs That Indicate You May Need New Gutters

These five warning signs can help you determine whether its time for replacement gutters instead of a paint job.

  1. Flecks of orange/paint peeling on or around gutters. You should not see this unless your system is ancient.  Gutter systems are designed for the wear and tear of outdoor weather.  Peeling paint or orange flecks are indicators that water is not flowing the way it should be.  If water is not being removed from the gutters properly, it can result in rust, cracks or other interior damage.
  1. Signs of mildew or pools of water. If you notice either of these around your home, the gutter system may not be operating effectively.  If left unattended, it can result in costly repairs and even foundation damage.
  1. Cracks or splits. Do not take small cracks lightly as they can turn into something much bigger in the future.  If you do not correct the cracks, it can lead to water damage of the gutters, shingles above the gutters, fascia boards behind the gutters, and the foundation.
  1. Gutters sagging. Gutters sagging or pulling away from the house are an indication that you need gutter repair or replacement.  It could mean that gutters are filled with water and sagging under the weight.  This means the system is not draining properly.
  1. Watermarks or water damage directly under the gutters. Pick a day when the sun is shining bright, and the ground is dry. Then check under the gutter to see if there is any indication of overflowing water or a leak.  If you see signs of water, address it immediately as this can cause damage to fascia and soffit boards.

Gutter Maintenance

Cleaning your gutters seasonally will often decrease the need to paint or get new gutters. Many times, people do not pay attention to their gutters, and they become clogged and full of debris.  Debris build-up can lead to sagging which causes water to spill over. This results in excessive rust.

One solution to help maintain your gutters is to purchase a gutter cover.  If the cover is effective, it will allow water to slide through the gutter while moving the debris to the ground.  It keeps debris like sticks and leaves from weighing down the gutters.

What Will it Cost to Paint Gutters?

If you decide to make this a DIY project, your only cost will be for materials.  If you don’t have the time or would prefer to use a professional, it will be a little more costly.  Below is the 2019 industry standard for professional gutter painting services.

  Quantity Low Estimate High Estimate
Gutter Painting Cost

Includes paint and primer.  Warranty and mildew resistant.

132 ft  $73 $100
Basic Labor – prep, remove loose paint, prime, seal edges, and gaps, put on 2 coats of paint. Setup and cleanup. 3.7 hours $120 $291
Supplies including paper, masking tape, solvents, cleanup supplies, and supplies typically needed to paint gutters. 132 ft. $9 $10
Power Wash 0.4 hours $12 $29


Should I Hire a Professional?

Of course, it is always good to have someone with the skills and knowledge about a particular field to assist you.  Painting gutters is no different.  Although painting is relatively easy, reinstalling the gutters is not.  It is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a professional to do this.  If not, you may end up paying way more than the cost of hiring the professionals!

How to Choose Gutter Colors

There are a few simple things to remember when choosing gutter colors.  Gutters should not be a glaring focal point when someone looks at your home.  Choose neutral colors that match other colors on the exterior. Light colors show dirt and tiger stripes quicker than dark colors.

The goal is to make sure the gutters and downspouts blend in with your roof and siding.  Nothing is worse than looking at a house with clashing or competing colors.  It takes away from the home’s appeal. This color chart shows some popular colors for gutters.

Gutter Shapes

Gutters come in two common shapes: K-style and Half-Round.  Although each has a unique stormwater, they are fairly easy to paint.

K-Style Gutter – this style is said to resemble the letter K from a certain angle. The most common size is 5 to 6-inch width, and they are generally installed with rectangular downspouts.


  • The unique shape makes this style stronger and less likely to bend when impacted by force
  • Holds more water than the rounded style with the same diameter
  • Looks like stylish crown molding on the interior of a home


  • Sharper edges can cause debris to get caught and accumulate quicker
  • Harder to clean

Half-Round Gutter

this style is rounded instead of square.  Because of the historical and elegant look, people with older homes often select the half-round style.  Half-round gutters have. a semicircular trough with a curved lip.


  • The smoother shape makes them less prone to corrosion
  • Easier to clean because the debris flows through with less clogging
  • Low maintenance


  • More expensive than K-style gutters
  • Not always readily available

Gutter Material

There are six common materials for rain gutters.  All of these can be painted but be sure to follow any special instructions for each type.  Material like vinyl does not need to be painted, and many companies recommend that it should not be painted because of the finish.

Material Characteristics
Aluminum ·         Most popular

·         Rustproof

·         Lightweight

·         Comes in a wide variety of colors


Seamless aluminum ·         Custom made on site

·         Fewer seams

·         Less likely to have leaks


Vinyl ·         Economical

·         Comes in select colors

·         Low maintenance

·         Does not corrode

·         Lightweight


Steel ·         Rust-resistant or galvanized

·         Heavy

·         Requires quick maintenance to prevent rust

·         Strong and durable

·         Comes in many colors


Copper ·         Will not mold, mildew or rust

·         Highly attractive color especially for luxury dwellings

·         Requires welding


Zinc ·         Durable and rustproof

·         Lasts longer than aluminum

·         Requires welding

·         Matte gray color makes it ideal for luxury and historic dwellings


Downspouts are essential to your gutter system.  They carry rainwater from the gutter to ground level.  They usually have a bend of 70 degrees at the bottom to direct water away from the foundation and into a sewer of some type.

People commonly paint the downspout a different color than the gutter – matching the downspout to the exterior trim and the gutter to the roof or fascia.

*Tip:  It is a good idea to remove the downspouts when painting gutters.

Three Interesting Facts You May Not Know About Gutters

  1. Have you ever seen old buildings with gargoyles? Guess what?  Not only was it believed that they warded off evil spirits, but gargoyles were actually used as gutters to direct the rain away from the building.
  2. Rain gutters date back between 3000 BC and 1500 BC when they were built from bricks made out of burnt clay. The Romans took the technology to Britain in 47 AD.  When the Norman Empire branched out between the 10th and 13th centuries, it caused a shift in architecture.  Stone roofs and parapets became common, making gargoyles the dominant gutter system.
  3. Rain gutters were once located on vehicle roofs to keep rain from falling on driver’s heads when they got out of the car. Because it affected airflow in the vehicle, the technology was phased out in the ’80s to improve aerodynamics.

Your Gutters are Important!

Now you know just how important your gutters are.  Many people don’t give their gutters a second thought until a problem arises.  They may notice standing water, mildew, and pests like mosquitoes. By the time these problems are noticeable, there may be a substantial cost involved.

Taking care of your gutters not only adds to the cosmetic appeal of your home, but it can also increase the functionality and lifespan of the structure.  Raggedy looking gutters can be an indication that the system is not functioning properly which can be a red flag for a potential homebuyer.  In the case of gutters, the look tells a lot.

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