Gutters are the most common solution for diverting rainwater away from a home. Inexpensive and relatively easy to install, they are a very effective way to protect a house’s roof and underlying foundation. Despite these advantages, they can also be a bit cumbersome and do require consistent maintenance. If you’re wondering how to divert water runoff from a roof without traditional gutters, the following alternatives may be what you’re looking for.

Why it Matters

When water is allowed to pool up on a roof, it can find its way into a home’s interior where it can cause rot and mold infestations. This can lead to serious structural issues, along with toxic mold outbreaks which can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair.

At the same time, when water pools around a home, it can lead to serious foundation damage that can also cost an extraordinary amount of money to repair. Roofers typically install gutters and downspouts to protect a home from the damaging effects of uncontrolled drainage. If your home doesn’t have gutters, one of the following alternatives may be useful.

Rain Chains

Rain chains are an efficient, attractive alternative to traditional gutters. Used for centuries in Japan, rain chains cascade rainwater from the roof to the ground via hanging chains or cups. Installing them on the exterior of your home can solve your rain dispersal problems while creating a beautiful water feature. That said, while they are beautiful, rain chains need to be installed by an experienced professional to ensure that they divert enough water to protect your home.

Rainhandler Gutterless System

Created by an aeronautical engineer from M.I.T., this gutterless system is an innovative rain dispersal device with a louver design installed at an angle in place of a conventional gutter. The setup essentially converts the water back into raindrops which it deflects away from your home.


This DIY process involves shaping and sloping the earth surrounding your house to naturally divert water away from the property. This usually works best when used with clay or other compact materials that don’t absorb water. While it can be effective, grading is usually a low-budget option that isn’t effective in every situation.

Drip Edge

Drip edges are metal devices installed at the edge of a roof. They basically work by moving water away from the fascia to prevent rot and keep water from running down the side of a house. This particular gutter alternative can be used along with a gutter, but it also works just fine on its own.

french drain
A French drain

French Drain

A French drain is a kind of ground gutter designed to redirect surface and groundwater away from a house. The water flows into a gravel-filled trench where it runs into a perforated pipe installed at the bottom. French drains essentially allow water to flow freely a safe distance away from a home.

Built-in Gutters (DIY Option)

Sometimes called “box gutters,” built-in gutters are designed to be part of a home’s architectural configuration. They’ve been around since the ancient Roman empire and have been used in the construction of American homes through the 1940s. Although they aren’t typically used on modern homes, they can elevate their aesthetic. You will usually see these types of alternative guttering systems on old or historical homes.

Without an effective water diversion solution, rainwater can seriously damage roofing and the structural integrity of your home. In most instances, gutters are used to funnel water a safe distance from a home. But if your house doesn’t have a guttering system, you’d better make sure you have an effective alternative.

To protect your home from serious water damage, you need an effective water diversion solution from a reputable roofing contractor with experience installing diverse systems. For decades, the professionals at A to Z Roofing have served countless satisfied customers throughout the Denver metro and the Front Range. For nearly a quarter of a century, we have been the go-to source for expert residential roofing, repair and restoration for homeowners and businesses throughout Colorado. During this time, we’ve provided comprehensive service using only top-quality products. Contact our attentive team to learn how we can restore, repair or replace your damaged or aging roof.