Rain chains demonstrate a beautiful blend of decorative form and useful function. Instead of water traveling from your roof through a closed downspout, rain chains allow you to enjoy rainwater’s pleasing sound and aesthetics, like a babbling brook cascading downward.
Rain Chains DIY Installation
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In Japan, where rain chains had their origin, they are a common element of traditional building design. Gutters are viewed as too utilitarian to use when the function can be handled by something that also enhances the beauty of the structure. That view is spreading, and the popularity of rain chains is growing in North America and around the world.
Our buying guide provides a comprehensive overview of rain chain costs, materials, options, professional installation and diy options, and more. It is presented in the form of rain chains FAQs, so you can quickly access the information you want.
What are Rain Chains?
If you’re unfamiliar with rain chains, or kusari doi in Japanese, lets discuss their anatomy.
- An adapter or bracket is attached to the gutter in place of a downspout
- The rain chain hangs from it
- The chain is anchored by a basin, stake or weight
These three essential components might be sold separately, but many top manufacturers produce kits with everything included.
What are the Most Popular Rain Chain Styles?
There are three rain chain styles:
- Chain links are interspersed with artistically designed cups or other features such as birds, leaves or flowers at intervals of a few inches to as much as a foot apart. Most rain chain cups have holes in the bottom to allow water to pass through. Other chains are produced with shallow cups, and the rainwater fills the cup and spills over into the cup below.
- Single links or another type of connector are used to hold each cup to the one above it, so that the rain chain is really a series of cups with little or no chainwork.
- The rain chain is a series of decoratively fashioned links or loops, often of varying size and artfully interwoven, with no cups at all.
Because of the artistic nature of rain chain design, these three basic styles are produced in nearly limitless variations and combinations.
What Rain Chain Materials are Available?
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Traditionally, rain chains were crafted from metal, and most still are.
The top rain chain materials are:
- Copper: This is the traditional material choice of rain chain artisans. The copper must be polished regularly if you wish it to maintain its gleam. Most copper rain chains are allowed to develop an appealing patina finish that changes as the copper ages.
- Steel: This is another traditional metal. Make sure any steel rain chain you consider is coated or painted to prevent rust, though corrosion is probably inevitable.
- Stainless steel: This corrosion-resistant metal is often used by itself or in a rain chain design with copper.
- Aluminum: More affordable than stainless, aluminum is durable and will develop a light patina too.
- Brass: This material is a staple of plumbing fixtures because it resists corrosion. It’s an attractive choice for rain chains too.