Downspouts are a huge part of any gutter system, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be quite unsightly. Wanting to keep the functionality without having an eyesore of a downspout can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.
If you want to learn how to hide a downspout without compromising its rain drainage abilities, keep reading!
A downspout is the part of the gutter system that collects rainwater and redirects it away from the house. It’s usually built in the shape of a pipe that runs vertically from the roof gutters along the sides of the house, but is bent out to allow the water to dissipate.
Having a downspout reduces the amount of water damage your house can sustain after heavy rainfall. Aside from protecting the siding from splashes, it also prevents the water from seeping into important structures, like the house’s foundation.
This is crucial to keep the integrity of your house and prevent structural compromise that can happen due to rainwater. That said, they’re usually very industrial-looking and this can take away from the beauty of a house.
Now that we know why downspouts are important, we can find ways to hide them while maintaining their functionality. The key here is to:
- Keep the downspout intact and not interfere with its course
- Camouflage or hide the metal tube as best as we can
- Avoid harming any nearby structures in the process.
You can achieve this by doing one or more of these three things; using another object to hide the downspout pipe, painting the pipe to match the house siding, or redirecting the downspout opening if that’s what you’re looking to do.
Hiding the length of the downspout pipe can be a great way of keeping it out of sight. You can do that by choosing an object to camouflage it, such as a leafy plant, a creeping vine, or a decorative item like a trellis.
In general, this is one of the easiest fixes you have for an unsightly downspout, but each one of these options has its advantages and downsides:
A leafy plant can do wonders in front of the downspout, covering most of it, provided it grows tall enough. There are some popular landscaping options out there, such as Fairy Fuschia, as well as Morning Light maiden grass.
Just be careful not to place the roots too close to the spout opening, or else there’s a very high chance the roots could rot due to overwatering.
With some other leafy plants, there’s a much smaller risk of overwatering, like with the Boston fern that has gorgeous fronds. This risk also diminishes with the cyperus varieties out there, which have fluffy foliage that resembles the maiden grass mentioned above.
If you live somewhere with a lot of rain, maybe consider the latter options.
Much like it is with leafy plants, a creeping vine can elevate the look of your house if left to grow to cover the downspout pipe. These usually require much less effort to grow and tend to, and when properly manicured, they look like a million bucks.
You can opt for an intensely flowered Clematis vine. These are evergreen and have beautiful blossoms and vibrant green foliage. You can also go for something more subtle like annual sweet pea vines, which have gorgeous pink flowers.
If you’d rather have something you can’t kill by overwatering, you can opt for the aptly-named Trumpet Creeper. The vivid orange, trumpet-shaped flowers give way to creeping vines of green foliage that would look super good over the downspout.
Adding a piece of garden decor to hide the downspout can prove to be a less-permanent, easier solution than adding a plant to your garden. A trellis, which is a thin wooden structure that can be used with creeping vines or on its own, is perfect for this job.
Just make sure you’re getting one that’s tall enough to hide the downspout pipe from a good height, otherwise, it won’t really make much of a difference.
There’s another option when it comes to hiding a downspout pipe, which is to paint it to make it blend in with the siding of the house. This is a great option if you don’t have enough time set aside for gardening, or would rather use the space for something else.
In order to get the best paint job for the downspout, you should follow these steps:
- Remove the downspout pipe from its place to have better control over it. You can do that by unscrewing the connectors securing it to the side of the house.
- Give a good wash using a garden hose, but avoid using a high-pressure power washer, as these don’t work as well over smooth surfaces.
- Take a piece of steel wool and scruff the surface to prep it for the paint primer. This will help the paint stick better.
- If you find any peeling paint, rust, or tarnish, scrub it off and sand the area smooth.
- Apply a layer of metal paint primer then let it dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Apply a coat of metal paint that matches the color of your home’s siding. If you’re manually mixing the color, this can mean trial and error. It can take a few attempts to get the right color because paint oxidizes a little as it dries, so the color changes slightly.
- For best results, apply 2–3 more coats of metal paint until the pipe is fully coated and dry. It’s advisable to leave the last coat to dry overnight before you hang the downspout pipe again.
If you don’t have a problem with the downspout pipe’s vertical extension, instead you don’t like where it opens on the side of the house, you might need to redirect its opening.
This project doesn’t require many tools to accomplish. All you need is a flexible extension pipe, the kind you can find in sink traps, and a riveting tool. You might also need a saw to remove the excess of the downspout to make a blunt end instead of a spout end.
Just keep in mind that if you intend to bury the extended pipe, you should know that most municipalities have restrictions on digging in your yard. This is important because you don’t want to hit any gas pipes on the side of your house, causing a leak or worse.
Once you’ve contacted your local digging authority, you can bury the pipe along the area you’ve dug out until the opening is out of sight.
You can redirect this rainwater to any kind of project you want. It can water plants or be connected to a rainwater reservoir.
If you’ve decided that the aforementioned fixes are too complicated or not visually appealing enough for you, there’s an alternative. The visually and sonically beautiful rain chain is the perfect solution for this downspout problem!
Rain chains are a traditional Japanese replacement for downspouts that makes a water feature out of an otherwise ugly pipe. These chains are usually made of copper, and can be decorated using different designs, such as cups, flowers, or small watering cans.
A rain chain works by providing a route along which rainwater can run down to the ground. You can attach it to the gutter system by replacing the downspout portion only. If you don’t have a gutter system, you can attach the rain chain along the area with the most water accumulation.
To replace a downspout:
- Remove the connectors holding the pipe in place
- Remove the downspout pipe
- Attach a U-shaped hanger to the gutter pipe opening
- Use a hook to attach the rain chain
To figure out where to put a rain chain without a gutter system:
- Use a garden hose on your sloping roof for a few minutes
- Wait for the water to drip down and monitor where it tends to accumulate the most
- Use a drill to make a hole for the rain chain hook at that point
- Attach the rain chain
If you live somewhere with heavy rainfall, opt for a cup-shaped rain chain that can withstand it. If you live in an arid climate, a link-style rain chain can do just fine, just make sure to attach it to a point in the ground if there’s high wind activity.
Learning how to hide a downspout can turn a sad-looking eyesore into a beautiful, decorative area on the side of your house. You can either paint the downspout pipe, or you can opt to hide it with more creative methods.
Using leafy plants, creeping vines or garden decor can camouflage the downspout pipe pretty well. You can also redirect the opening of the downspout if that’s what’s bothering you the most.
Last but not least, replacing the downspout with a beautiful rain chain can make the house look -and sound- a million times better.