This eastern alternative to a downspout is often found adorning temples in the far east. Often called kusari-toi or kusari-doi in the original Japanese, these stylish alternatives offer a way to collect rainwater in a beautiful manner. Some are made from copper and purify the water, some are made to spin and entertain, and some are meant to be musical. Whichever you want is up to you. Here’s how you can use rain chains instead of gutters.

”The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain.” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What Are Rain Chains?

Here's what rain chains can do for your home
Just a sample of what rain chains can look like. Source: From house to home

Comprised of multi-level ornaments usually made of metal, rain chains are a new fad for the west that seems to be gaining momentum.

In essence, they allow rainwater to trickle down into a pot. The rain chains’ effectiveness varies based on whatever is more important to you. If you’re looking to collect rainwater, certain models do that better, and if you’re just looking for an interesting exterior decor piece, that can also be done.

Here are some different types of rain chains:

  • Link style
  • Cup style
  • Ornate
  • Premium
  • Custom
  • Whirligig
  • Loops
  • Actual chains
  • Kanji cup

Collecting Rainwater

Couple it with a barrel for some fancy decor
Another wonderful addition to a home. Source: Lifescape

Most rain chains that collect water are generally made out of copper. These units do have to be sanctioned by local law authorities, however. So check with your public zoning office just to be sure. Also you will need proper water holding barrels, as well. The rain chains effectiveness depends mostly on positioning and what gutter system is in place.

Rain Chains Vs. Downspouts

Unfortunately if you live in a high-wind and heavy weather climate, you might not want to use rain chains as your only downspouts. A combination of the two is certainly possible, and preferable if you experience great fluctuations in terms of severity of weather. Only some parts of the country will want to use rain chains instead of gutters.

Rain Chain Pros and Cons

Rain cups can make for a stunning exterior display
Imagine that outside your home collecting rain? Source: Curbly

Rain chains are simply more attractive and come in more designs, patterns, and colors. But downspouts are more functional. So it’s essentially the age old debate: looks or functionality? If you do decide to use rain chains instead of gutters, you gain the bonus function of being able to harvest rainwater. Also rain chains are simply more exotic.

Rain Chain DIY

Baby blue color hues
Add some rain chains to your home. Source: Design sponge 

For the ultimate in custom design and flexibility, try out DIY rain chains. You can create them out of terracotta plates, metal, and even stone tiles. As long as the design makes for a rain-catching structure it’ll work out. Again, sometimes these are best paired up with downspouts. In any case a rain chain DIY project can only seek to help your home’s exterior.

Are you in the market for some gutter work? Did you know the cost for gutter cleaning changes based on where you live? For example, in New York, NY it can cost an average of $1400 while in Long Beach, MS, it can cost an average of $1100. Want to get a more accurate estimate for free? Get in touch with a professional near you!


Be sure to have an overhang of at least three feet before deciding to install. This will allow for proper drainage to occur. Furthermore, extra long rain chains don’t seem to affect functionality.

Want some more gutter alternatives? Get in touch with a professional for more info!

Continue Reading:

Join the conversation