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Keeping siding dry without gutters

user-322250 | Posted in General Questions on

Currently my house does not have any gutters. The house is on raised piers. The height off the ground for the first floor varies with grade but is always at least 3 feet so on three sides of the house, the lack of gutters is not much of a problem in terms of water management.


On the fourth side of the house, there is a deck at the same level as the first floor. The deck runs the full length of the house on that side. Water off the roof hits the deck and splashes against the siding. This has caused the siding to rot. I need to fix this problem and I was hoping for advice on the best approach.


The two solutions I have identified so far are:


  1. Add traditional gutters along the side of the house with the deck.
  2. Remove the deck surface along the roof dripline and replace it with some sort of metal grating.


I do not like solution number 1 because I think traditional gutters will look awful on the house. It is a post and beam contemporary with clean simple lines and an exposed fastener metal roof. I can not figure out any way to do gutters that will not be an eyesore Perhaps if I had a better design sense I would be able to find an acceptable solution.



Solution number 2 concerns me because I think I will still get some splash on the siding (the edge of the roof is about 26 feet above the deck so the dripline is wide and water is moving fast when it hits the deck). Solution number 2 also seems like it will be tough to implement- where do I find metal grating, how do I keep it flush with the existing deck, how do I maintain the x-y stiffness of the deck after cutting out a section of the decking, etc.


My Questions:


-Is there a third option I should be considering ?

-Will solution 2 (the grating) be sufficiently effective in terms of keeping the siding dry ?

-Short of custom fabrication, where does one find metal grating for this sort of application ?


Thanks for your help.

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  1. Expert Member
    Akos | | #1

    I would look at getting a custom brake form gutter made up (any roofing place that does custom flashing can make it) that matches your metal roof.

    Here you are limited to 10' length but if it is only over a short section, that is not a lot of pieces. The gutter also does not need to be as wide as your typical K, even something with a 2" opening will do a decent job of collecting the water.

    Once you get past the deck you might not even need a downspout but you will get a lot of erosion where the water falls. Something like a chain link downspout might be better.

  2. jberks | | #2

    I agree with you the k gutters are horrible looking.

    I actually like the concept of the deck grate! Not the best solution but I think it's a cool concept. I would imagine You might still get back splashing on your siding with a grate, but I've never tested something like that. Not being able to see the application, I do think a custom gutter is your best bet of aesthetic and function.

    If you were to try the grate thing, you'll have to get crafty. Assuming your deck runs parrallel with your roofline, you'd be able to find perforated aluminum sheeting at a metal supplier and get them to cut it to the width. Or maybe your roofing shop will have thinner stock and get them to bend it in an upsidedown U shape for clean edges. Make blocking off your deck joists so the grate sits flush with the deck and screw them down with pan head screws.

    In my current build I did custom gutters that were incorporated into the fascia and are completely hidden.

    Also maybe look at a "water dispersion system" I've never used this or seen it in real life, so I don't know if it'll solve your issue, but it's another option.


  3. Expert Member
    Peter Engle | | #3

    I agree with the others that a custom gutter is probably the best solution, but I do also like the grating idea. Take a look at alternate gutter designs and you might find one that looks OK. I think a simple box gutter might look good with that style of house.

    There are tons of companies that make pedestrian gratings - just google them. Here's one that makes aluminum gratings and their standard panel is 2' or 3' wide by up to 24' long. Seems like almost perfect fit.

  4. Expert Member


    This project by Fernau + Hartman has a grate similar to what you describe. They look to me like the commercial grates used on driveways at underground garages.

  5. Expert Member
    BILL WICHERS | | #5

    Maybe you could hide the gutter behind a second fascia board so that the gutter itself wouldn’t be visible from the side.

    For a grate, DON’T use aluminum — aluminum will corrode too quickly with any acidic debris from the roof. Use stainless steel that will last much, much longer. I’d use 316 stainless, but 304 will also work. You can use perforated sheet which is readily available (not exactly cheap though), or expanded metal. Perforated sheet has a hexagonal pattern of round holes which would probably give the best appearance. A bit of a concave shape (higher on the sides with a dip in the middle) will help keep water from splashing out of the grate onto the nearby deck. Any sheet metal fabricator should be able to make this for you. I’ve actually done this, but for drain screens for evaporative cooling towers rather than for decks.

    Another product to consider is the open fiberglass decking material made by Fibergrate. This is a structural fiberglass product that is intended for this type of application. It is strong enough to walk on, it’s intended to build walkways in factories and marinas. It’s not inexpensive though. This product could be used in a recess in the deck and wouldn’t require any fancy fabrication.

    You might be able to adapt a strip/trench drain top piece to make the grate too. These can usually be found in the box stores and are normally used to make drains in driveways and the like.


  6. hughw | | #6

    I have no experience with them, but these people look like they could make you a nice rectangular or square gutter of whatever material you wanted. Their stock sizes are bigger than you want, which would probably be something on the order of 3 x 3, or 2-1/2 w x 4h, but they indicate they make custom sizes.

  7. user-6623302 | | #7

    How close to the house is the decking? Could the rot issues just be due to lack of air circulation? Could you modify the siding to use some rot free product. Sounds to me like you have water wicking up into the siding because the deck/siding joint is too tight.

  8. user-322250 | | #8

    Thanks all. You have given me some good leads to pursue.

    Jonathan, there is a gap (couple of inches) between the decking and the house siding. Because the house foundation piers support one side of the deck, there are deck beams that run all the way to the house.

    The siding is unfinished white pine (essentially weathered barn board). There is no question that the water problem would be less severe if the siding had been painted originally but that ship has already sailed. At this point, the siding is so severely weathered that painting or staining would involve residing the entire house (a project that I will have to tackle in the future but hoping to avoid right now).

    Zephyr7, you are spot on about aluminum corrosion. The decking is (copper) pressure treated wood so aluminum would likely be a no-no. That is too bad because it seems like a lot of the commercial grating products are manufactured from aluminum.

  9. Expert Member
    Peter Yost | | #9

    See attached photo of a dripline deck grate; I use this detail all the time. Find a wrought iron worker or use google images "metal deck grate" and all kinds of options.

    Just watch for high heels and their liability when you have deck judgment here; just sayin...


  10. vashonz | | #10

    Doing parts research for a project at work and I came across s product made by unistrut.

    "Roofwalk grating planks" 6",6",12" wide. 2.5" tall. Designed to be walked on.

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