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Gutterman of TN's Blog

Gutters Throughout History

History of Gutters

Here at The Gutterman we are always looking at new technology to improve our service of your home. Currently, we recommend the K-Guard Gutter Protection System. It is not only effective, but also durable and adds to the beauty of your home. While we are keeping our eyes on advances and future trends, we thought you might enjoy a look back at the history of gutter development — it is more interesting than you might think!

Ever wonder what your gutter’s backstory is? The history of gutters dates as far back as 3000 BC, when the earliest form of a gutter was used by the Harappan civilization (modern-day Pakistan). They used burnt clay bricks to cover a system of drainage for toilets. The Roman Empire introduced a new system of drainage around 27 BC when they reinvented the road, raising the middle so mud and water would run downhill into gutters.

Gargoyles used to do the job of moving water from the roof to the ground.

Gargoyles used to do the job of moving water from the roof to the ground.

The next point in gutter history comes straight from the mouths of gargoyles. Ever wonder what those things were really for anyway—besides lending themselves to creepy stories?  As structures were rebuilt with stone roofs and parapets after the Norman invasion in 1066, the gargoyles were used to “spit” the drainage out and away from structures.

In the Middle Ages, wood, lead, and clay tile gutters were used, and in 1240, what is believed to be the very first downspout (the part of the gutter that runs down the side of a structure and sends drainage on its way), was built onto the side of the Tower of London.

Fast-forward to 17th and 18th century American colonies, where gutters were often two pieces of board fastened together in a v-shape. Later on, they began to line them with metal. In the 19th century, cast iron came into play, as well as underground drainage systems. Steel was the metal of choice in the 20th century, replaced by aluminum and plastic as efforts were made to increase production during WWII. In the 1950s, plastic gutters were about as popular as poodle skirts.

Free love wasn’t the only thing to come out of the ‘60s—seamless aluminum gutters were also introduced. The jury is out on which of these things impacted current times the most. Aluminum is stronger and lighter-weight than a lot of the other metals that have been used for gutters (and it seems like just about every kind was tried out at one point or another throughout history), and it accounts for about 70% of the gutters in use today.