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Amazed by Downspout Rain Chains? Read This Fascinating Guide First!

Posted on : July 4, 2023

Amazed by Downspout Rain Chains? Read This Fascinating Guide First!

Have you ever been captivated by the elegance of rain chains? Discover the beauty, functionality, and possibilities of these pretty gutter accessories as I discuss everything you need to know before incorporating them into your home's exterior.

Get ready to be amazed!

Let’s Begin with the Basics: What is a Rain Chain?

Rain chains have a rich history dating back centuries and are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Traditionally used in Japanese architecture, kusari-doi (chain gutters) are decorative alternatives to downspouts that guide rainwater from your roof to the ground. They feature a series of linked cups, or other designs, that create a mesmerizing visual display as water flows through them.

Do Rain Chains Work in Heavy Rains or Windy Areas?

One common concern is whether these beautiful alternatives are also functional during heavy rainfall and strong winds. The answer is yes! Downspout chains are designed to handle different weather conditions. In rainy areas, they efficiently channel water away from your home, preventing potential water damage. In windy areas, stabilizing tools and sturdy materials like copper or stainless steel can withstand wind gusts and maintain stability.

Before you use them as an alternative to traditional downspouts, it’s important to learn about their pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Chain Gutters

Pros and Cons of Chain Gutters

Like any home improvement feature, rain chains have their pros and cons. So let’s get into the details of these gutter accessories so you can determine what option is best for you.



Rain chains add a unique and artistic element to your home's exterior, instantly enhancing its curb appeal. With a wide range of designs available, you can choose a rain chain that complements your architectural style and personal taste.

Soothing Sound

The gentle sound of water cascading through rain chains creates a soothing and tranquil atmosphere. It adds a natural element to your outdoor space, transforming it into a peaceful oasis where you can unwind and relax.


Rain chains promote sustainable water management. By directing rainwater into barrels or storage tanks, you can collect and reuse the water for various purposes like watering plants, washing outdoor surfaces, or filling birdbaths. This reduces your reliance on municipal water sources and helps conserve resources.

Low Maintenance

Rain chains generally require less maintenance compared to traditional downspouts. They don't clog easily as they lack narrow pipes and elbows. Periodically rinsing them with water or using a mild detergent is usually sufficient to keep them clean and functioning as intended.


Water Splashing

Depending on the design and installation, rain chains may cause water to splash or create more runoff compared to downspouts. But this isn’t necessarily an issue if you add a basin or water drainage system that will control and direct water effectively.

Freezing Conditions

In areas with frequent freezing temperatures, water flowing through rain chains can create ice formations that may need to be addressed. It’s recommended for people living in snowy areas to remove them when winter sets in.

Material and Design Options for Rain Chain Gutters

There is a large array of options when it comes to unique downspout chain designs. You can easily pick a style or get one customized to your taste and home’s aesthetics.

Copper Rain Chains 

Copper Rain Chains 

Known for their elegance and the beautiful patina they develop over time, copper rain chains are a classic choice. When paired with copper gutters and downspouts, copper chains will add a luxurious appeal to your home.

Stainless Steel Rain Chains

Stainless steel is a very durable and rust-resistant material, meaning your rain chain will weather any conditions and last for years. Factory-made stainless steel chains often feature sleek cup or link designs.

Aluminum Rain Chains

Lightweight and affordable, aluminum rain chains are available in various designs and finishes. They can mimic the look of copper or stainless steel at a lower cost. These are perfect for coastal homes or properties near saltwater because aluminum is highly resistant to corrosion.

Let’s explore a range of classic and modern rain chain styles to find the perfect match for your home's aesthetic!

Top Classic & Trending Rain Chain Styles

From Japanese designs to handmade and customized products, you can look at plenty of options and find the perfect match for your home.

Classic Styles

Buckets: These chains have small buckets or pails throughout. This classic style offers a rustic and charming look, reminiscent of traditional rainwater collection methods.

Flowers: If you want to incorporate the beauty of blooming flowers like lilies, tulips, or roses, flower-shaped cups are a perfect choice.

Classic Styles

Modern Rain Chain Ideas

Modern rain chains are perfect for homes with contemporary gutter styles.


This rain chain embraces artisanal craftsmanship, offering unique and one-of-a-kind rain chain designs. Handmade rain chains often incorporate elements like glass beads, seashells, or colorful ceramic pieces, creating visually stunning and personalized rain chains.

Summer Themed

Season-inspired rain chains include designs with sun and sunflower-shaped cups. The detailed chains capture the essence of summertime and add a joyful atmosphere to your outdoor space.


Features with bird-shaped cups or chains evoke a sense of whimsy and individuality. Bird-themed rain chains add a unique, playful touch while showcasing the beauty of wildlife.

But keep in mind that the chains need proper drainage to prevent water damage to the garden, basement, and foundation.

Incorporate an Eco-Friendly Drainage Option With Your Rain Chain

Strategic drainage is an excellent opportunity to save water, time, and money. Go through these options and choose the idea that is best for you!

Rainwater Harvesting

Connect rain chains to rain barrels or storage tanks to collect water for outdoor use. By directing rainwater into storage containers, you can utilize it for watering plants, cleaning, or other non-potable purposes, promoting sustainability.

Garden Fountains

Garden Fountains

Channel the water into one or more fountains, creating a stunning garden feature. You can even add aquatic plants or fish for a detailed and natural touch!

Porch Irrigation System

Utilize the water to care for the plants and flowers on your porch. By strategically extending downspout chains to your porch or patio, you can efficiently water your plants, saving you time and effort.

Traditional Basin

Place a matching basin or pebbles at the base of the rain chain to collect and distribute water. A basin can serve as an ornamental element while also facilitating the controlled distribution of rainwater, preventing erosion, and promoting efficient drainage.

A Purchase and Installation Guide for Rain Gutter Chains

It’s crucial to consider the following factors when purchasing and installing rain chains:


Just like other gutter materials, the price of rain chains varies based on material, design, length, and installation complexity. On average, a rain chain can range from $50 to $200. You can explore some gorgeous designs from warehouse stores like Home Depot or gutter-dedicated suppliers like Gutter Supply and Nutshell Stores.


Ensure your choice matches the load-bearing capacity of your gutters. Rain chains come in different weights, depending on the material and size, and it's important to select one that won't come off the gutter troughs.

Winter Considerations

While downspout chains can withstand moderate winter conditions, it's recommended to remove them during freezing temperatures or heavy snowfall. In such areas, rain chains will play the role of embellishment pieces rather than downspout replacements, as they do little to offset snowfall. Water can also freeze along the chain, leading to damage or excessive weight. 

Consult a Reliable Contractor

It’s crucial to work with a trustworthy local professional when it comes to roof and gutter improvements. These parts of your exterior are directly responsible for preventing water damage and pest infestations throughout your home.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can make an informed decision to ensure a successful installation that enhances both the functionality and aesthetic appeal of your home.

If you are looking to install new rain chains in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, we’re here to help you explore beautiful and sturdy options!

Free Consultation and Estimate on Gutter Replacement and Downspout Decorations

At McClellands Contracting and Roofing, we are a team of dedicated experts who love home exterior renovations! We’re always excited to bring beauty and functionality to our customers while ensuring complete satisfaction. If you need gutter and downspout services in Pittsburgh, call us at (412) 353-5660. Our creative and skilled team will be happy to help with your rain chain project!

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