How to Paint Your Gutters

Rain Gutter and Drain Pipe

If your gutters are looking a bit worn, you may not necessarily need to replace them. Giving them a fresh coat of paint can extend their lease on life while updating the exterior of your home. However, there is more to this home improvement process than loading up a paint bucket and unleashing your inner Rembrandt. Read further to discover the details and benefits of gutter painting.

Table of Contents

Why Should You Paint Your Gutters?

Gutter Outside the house
Photo by: Mark Gstohl / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Your rain gutters perform an essential function by protecting your home from water damage. However, in the course of doing that, gutters can become weather beaten and look rundown. In fact, your gutters may wear down faster than any other part of your home. 

Sure, you could just replace the gutters, but unless they’re really worn out, that may be an unnecessary expense. Painting them is a quicker and cheaper way to make old gutters look new again. 

While painting your gutters doesn’t typically seem like a part of routine gutter maintenance, doing so can actually go a long way toward helping this vital drainage system last longer. If you use the right kind of paint, you can protect your gutters from scratches, small leaks, and damage caused by wind and sun exposure. 

And finally, don’t underestimate just how noticeable your gutters are. If their color clashes with the paint on your house, they could be an eyesore. Painting your gutters gives you a more consistent exterior aesthetic, maintaining the value and beauty of your home.

A Common Misconception

There is a misconception that metal gutters cannot be painted because the paint won’t effectively adhere to them, or that you need to hire professional painters to do the job. 

That’s incorrect. You can do it yourself, and it’s not that difficult. You just need to familiarize yourself with the process and gather the appropriate materials for the job. 

Preparing Your Gutters Beforehand

There are many steps you should take before applying any paint to your gutters. Preparing them for painting ensures that your work lasts for a long time. In addition, if you properly clean and prepare your gutters, you can make the painting process much easier.

The main types of gutter materials on the market are vinyl and aluminum. Vinyl gutters typically come pre-painted at installation in a tone that matches your exterior. When you have to replace the paint, doing so is simple. 

Aluminum gutters are different. They don’t take paint as well, so it’s essential to choose the correct paint to ensure a strong finish. That doesn’t mean that painting aluminum gutters is an impossible undertaking, though. 

Here are the steps you should follow in preparing to paint vinyl or aluminum gutters. 

  1. Make sure you leave sufficient time to complete this project. On average, painting a gutter system takes around five days due to the wait time for coats to dry. Check the weather for the week of your gutter painting, too. You don’t want all of your hard work rained out and washed away.  
  2. Decide whether to remove your gutters or leave them attached to the house while working on them. There are benefits and drawbacks to both approaches. Removing the gutters beforehand is time-consuming but will make it easier to reach every spot, including areas that may be too small for a brush or close to the house for a spray. And if you’re not comfortable working on a ladder, painting your gutters on the ground is the way to go. 
  3. Clean the gutters inside and out so the paint adheres well to the surface. Use warm water and dishwashing liquid, then scrub the gutters in a firm, circular motion.
  4. Power washing may be effective for the general cleaning of your gutter. However, there’s a chance that it will only move dirt around rather than strip it completely, and you need a totally clean surface to ensure an even paint job.
  5. Sand down any scratches or nicks that might keep paint from applying evenly. Aluminum oxide is an effective sandpaper material because it has a fine grit, making it good for both vinyl and aluminum gutters. Silicon carbide sandpaper can suffice if used sparingly or in combination with aluminum oxide on aluminum gutters. Most vinyl gutters are coated in a high-quality sheen to help seal them. However, paint and primer will not bond with this layer of gloss. You will need to use sandpaper to remove it completely before repainting. 
  6. Remove the downspout braces even if you don’t plan to completely detach your gutters. This will allow you to fully paint them and the part of the downspout under them. You could even remove the downspout or parts of it to get to hard-to-reach places.
  7. Carefully shield your fascia boards, shingles, and any windows near your gutters with heavy-duty painters’ plastic and masking tape to protect them from drips or overspray. If you’ve removed the gutters and are painting them in your yard, paint them on a heavy-duty tarp because some paints can damage or kill parts of your lawn and most plants.

How To Paint Your Gutters

Once you have clean gutters, you’ll be ready to start painting them. And whether you have aluminum gutters or vinyl gutters, the procedure for painting them is fairly straightforward. 

Apply Primer

Some gutter painting jobs require a primer. You can use either an oil-based primer or a water-based clear acrylic bonding primer, though most professionals prefer acrylic for aluminum gutters because it bonds to metal more easily. 

No matter what kind of primer you choose, ensure that it is ammonia-free. Ammonia can cause gas bubbles under the paint, which will lead to an uneven coating.

Once you’ve fully coated your gutters with primer, let them dry for at least 48 hours to set and bond. If you interfere with the drying process too soon, the primer may not hold the paint as well, especially if you are painting aluminum gutters.

Apply Enamel Paint (Optional)

If you have the time and want to give your gutters an extra layer of protection, you can do so by covering them in a layer of enamel paint after the primer dries. Enamel paint is a glossy, resinous coating that dries to an opaque finish. It helps protect surfaces from temperature variations, scratches, and stains.

Because of its resinous nature, enamel paint can show brush strokes and drips, presenting imperfections that may appear in the finished paint job. So be sure to coat the gutter as evenly as possible. 

In addition, enamel paint works best when paired with an oil-based primer.

Add the Base Coat of Paint

Just like the primer, it’s vital to use the right kind of paint for your gutters. Use either water or oil-based acrylic or water-based latex-urethane paint formulated for weather resistance. Be sure to choose a paint that matches your primer. You may not get effective paint adhesion if you don’t.

You can also choose a paint that is also UV resistant but be aware that aluminum gutters generally resist sun damage.

Water-based paints tend to dry quickly and are easier to clean, but they don’t last as long as oil-based paints and can sometimes pool, creating uneven surfaces. Oil-based paints create a smooth, lasting finish that is hard to achieve with any other type of paint. However, cleaning them is more of an ordeal, requiring turpentine or mineral oil. They also dry more slowly.

You can use any tone of paint you like, though as a general rule your gutters should match the roof and trim of your house. Darker tones absorb heat more readily, so check that your paint can also hold up to expansion and contraction due to higher temperatures. You can also add a flex additive to the paint to help it withstand heat expansion better.

Apply an even coat to the outside of your gutters, the downspouts, and the brackets. You can use a brush or a sprayer, but ensure that you’re protecting your home or yard from drips or overspray. 

Add the Top Coat of Paint

After painting your gutters, allow up to 24 hours for the paint to fully dry. Within 24 hours, the paint should have completely bonded to the vinyl or aluminum. Then, apply a second coat of paint the same way you applied the first. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do you have to paint gutters?

Quality paint will last for years if it is kept clean. In general, you shouldn’t have to worry about repainting your gutters for at least five years, unless the trim color of your house changes before then. 

Should your gutters match the color of your fascia boards?

Unless your gutters are hidden, the fascia boards, which hold your gutters in place, should stand out as much as possible. The fascia is the part of the roof with the most curb appeal, so you don’t want it to blend in with your gutters.

Can you paint gutter guards?

You can absolutely paint gutter guards. The method you use to do so and the type of paint you use will vary depending on the type of gutter guard you’ve got installed. You will also have to remove the gutter guard to ensure that paint doesn’t get inside the gutter run where excess water is channeled. 

The Final Word

Painting your gutters is a great way to boost your home’s curb appeal and increase the longevity of the drainage system. Doing it yourself is a simple process if you know the correct steps. But, you don’t have to take the DIY route on every gutter project. Instead, you can trust a team of qualified professionals to help you maintain your gutters, your yard, and your peace of mind. 

Main Photo by: Jeremy from Sydney, Australia / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Nick Crawford

Nick Crawford

Nick Crawford is a blog writer based in Philadelphia. He enjoys writing just as much as he enjoys reading a good book, cooking, and working out in his spare time.