Architectural d*wnspouts
R*inchains are meant to *e *e**, not hidden around *h* co*ner
By Mark Ward *r.
that rai* chain* maintain their tension by
weight and grav*ty,” he n*tes, “but I also rec-
Intense compe*i*ion in the *ut*er
omm**d tying them do** so they won’* sway
indust*y has *p*wned heav* consumer
in t** wind.*
advertis*ng, w*ich in *u*ned has *aised
GutterSupply.*om *ells approxima***y 25
homeo*ners’ awarenes* of gutter *roducts.
des*gns. Cup-style rai* ch*ins can offer th*
Now that a*ar*ness is t**ckling *ow* into
appear*n** of a chai* of lilies, star fl*w*rs,
access*ry products, *rom conductor hea*s to
*callops, or be*ls. B*th *ound *nd square
*ec*r*tive hang*rs — *r to an increas*ngly
cups are available. Link-st*le chains can fe*-
p*p*l*r o*tion, *apa**se rain chains.
tu*e *ingl* loops, doub*e loops, c**i* link,
“Rain chains are a g*owing *r*duct line,*
*r * com*ination *f loops and **nks.
says *ike Mil*man of Gut*erSu*ply. com, a
M*llman’s *ompan* even offe** “theme” r*in
materials s*ppl*e* and online retailer *a*ed in
ch*ins cra**ed in s*ch motifs as grape-and-
*ake Bl**f, Ill. “They’ve been used i* Japan fo*
leaf, wave-and-dolphin, hum*ingbi*d, *nd
more th*n a hundre* yea*s, *nd n*w rain
chains have been in*roduced t* the *n*ted
“R*in chains aren’t a co*plete repl*ce-
m*nt for *ownsp*u*s,” ad*ises Millman, “but
*he m*tal, usually cop*er, chains can
the*’** an *esthetic *lternative, *oss*bly for
repl*ce a conven*ional downspout, as rain
high-*is*bi*ity places like a front entra*ce
wat*r ca*cades down a vertical seri*s of cups
wh*re a *onventio*al downspout may look
or links. *n additio* *o the visual display of
Gutter*u**ly.*om photo
**scading w*ter, th* action c*n produce a
p*e*sant ti*kling sound — compared to *h*
w*re clip sits *n the gutter ove* t** d*w*-
*hains vs. Down*pouts
clunky nois* th*t ema*ates fro* enclosed
*pout ho*e. The center portion of the clip is
At Sl**e and Copper Sal*s Company Inc., a
b*nt in a V-s*ape to ext*n* b*low the hole,
manufacturer and *istribu*o* based in Erie,
Sales g*owth in *a*n chains, suggests
which h*lps *irect wate* fl*w down onto *he
Pa., Larry *arie ag*e*s t**t “r*i* c**ins add
*ill*a*, *ove*ail* w*th ri*ing i*terest in
c*a**. The rai* chain *tself a**a*hes to the
e*pression and character t* a gutter system.”
Eastern concepts *uch as feng shui (literally
b*ttom point of the “V.” Though insta*latio*
From the growing numb*r of desig*s no*
“wind *n* wate*”) or the ancient practi** of
m*y require s*me bending of *he attach-
available, he suggests, “It se**s like there’s a
pl*cing objects and arr*nging *pace in har-
ment so *t sits correctly in the gutter, *dds
big *nd g*owing market for rain c*ains.”
m*ny with the *nvironmen*. Yet r*in ch*ins
Mi*lman, “They’re a fairly *imple element to
Ma*ie *oncurs that r*in chains cannot
als* offer some p*agmatic benef*ts as well to
replace conv**tional downs*outs in every
*oth installers and ho*e*wners.
*o*eover, if the clip is co*per and th*
situation. “It’s r*com*e**ed that you keep
*ain ch*ins retai* at abou* $8 to $20 per
gutter alumi*um, *o *rev*nt electr*lysis,
the chain a*ay *rom t*e wall of you* ho*se,”
l*near foo*, re*orts Millman, or ** to $50 for
**ou could put a p*e*e of plasti* on e*ch
** explains. “A thre*-f*ot overhang is what
intri*ate handcra*ted products. *Install*rs
side of t*e o*tle* hole u*derneath the *utter
*eople advise. But no* ever* ho*eow*er has
shoul* think a*out a*d*ng rain chai*s *o t*e*r
att*chment pi*ce, or plac* a barri*r such as
prod*ct lines,*he recommends.“Many ho**-
ice-and-wate* shield b*tween the two met-
Nevertheless, he ad*s,“I’ve see* some p**pl*
owners are int*rested ** *nique *utter so*u-
als. As long as the*e’s n* d*rect co*t*ct
*se a* elbo* s*stem to move the chain fur-
tions b*t don’t yet kno* *bout rain chains,
*etween both *aw m*tals, y** s*ouldn’t
th*r away fro* the wall.”
and so *ou *an introduce them to the pr*d-
ha*e a prob*em,” Millman *oints out.
A* *or the p*rforman*e of ra*n chains,
uct. Rain chains are uni*ue, whi** means
At gro*nd lev*l, ***h*r*ng th* r*in cha*n
Marie read*ly a*mi** the produc*s “are not
higher margins for th* in*ta*ler.And the prod-
should be con*idered. “The* can drain into a
downs*o*ts; *hey *plash arou*d a*d so
*c**s uniqueness h*l*s set you apart from
v*riety of receptacle* li*e *asins,b*wls,*aucers,
th**’r* n*t ideal for *a*turing and draini*g
ot*** **ntract*rs.”
or pebbles,” Millma* says. His company also
sells ham**red copper **w*s and di*hes whic*
Th*ugh *a**e agre*s *ain cha**s are
Simpl* Installation
anchor *he chain, pr**id* d*ain*ge, and
“quick to in*tall and t*ke on*y about five
**e chains are *asy to insta*l. A simple
e*han*e a*s*he*ics. “The manufa**u*ers say
minute* t* *ut up,” h* is mo*e gu*rded ab*ut
**p*inted for G* * Suppl**ent to Metal Roofing *ummer 2*06
th* profit pot*ntial for gu*t*r i*sta*lers. “Th*
chai*s are expensi** f** an inst*ller to buy,
becaus* the pr*duc*s are labor-*ntens*v* to
**nufa*ture. So that profit ma*gin *ou can
make on r*i* cha*ns is**t real big.”
*oweve*, *ith t** chains r*t*il*n* at $10
to $30 per linear *oot, he believes a **t*er
co*pa*y th*t b*comes a whol*sa*e d*strib*-
tor ** *ain chai*s could enj*y a m*rkup of
between 30 and 50 percent. Further, a gutt*r
com*any that decides to manufact*re and
sell the produc* directly to consumer*, he
sugge*ts, could realize a *ar**p of bet*e*n
200 a*d 300 pe*cent.
In s*ll*n* r*in ch*ins to ho*eow*e*s,
Mil*man reports that *nstallers can *xpec* *o
Aus**n *utt**man pho*o
*ear som* common question*. “P*opl* as*
abou* th* functionality of rain chains an*
hav* *f*en been part of a *a*nwater ha**esting
saucers a*d bowls are a*ailable at all h**e and
wh*th*r *hey c*n handl* a l*r*e volum* of
system, as runof* from th* *oof is t**nspo*ted
garden *e*ters, whi*e companie* such as Sl*te
*ater,” he s*ys, and su*gest* a *o*d rule of
*y the chain* into *arge barrels for domestic
and *opper Sales *nd *utt*rSu* se*l
thum* in hi*h rainfall-density areas is not to
w*t*r supply. And c*remonial temple* and
ha**ered *opper bowls and *ish*s.
exce** more than 25 to 30 f*et o* gutter
**rines in Jap*n frequent*y boast large a*d
*The effect,”*ari* s**tes,“of t*e rain chains
drai*ing into on* rain *ha*n.
or*ately crafte* rai* *hai*s as part of thei* tra-
rea*ly is *esmer*z**g and beautiful.” GO
Homeowners also may wor*y about ic*
ditiona* arch*tecture.
f*r*ing *n the chai*s. “We se*l a *ot of **ain*
to **e Nort*e*st,” respo*ds *illman, “and
designs are the closest in
haven’* *e*rd of icin* p*oble*s. We have,
form to the *raditional
h*wev**, h*d customers tel* *s h*w gorgeou*
*a*an*s* origina*s, wh*l*
the *hain* look whe* icicl* shapes are frozen
loo* designs also r*flect
onto the*.” He says t*e rain ch*ins als* *unc-
Asian influ*nce. *y con-
tion p*operly in icy con*itions, sinc* the me**l
trast, cup-style rain chains
10% off
your First Order
of t** chai* cre*tes *ce crystals and water is
when you mention
then attrac*ed t* th* ice.
*eca*se they s*lash less
promot**n cod*:
An*ther questio* *il*man encount*rs
when chai*s are installed
*rom consumers i* how the app*aran*e of
near windo*s, doors, an*
rai* chains may b*come alter*d through age
wa*kways. Th* cup *tyle
and weathering.*This de*en** on *here yo*
al*o provides gr*ate* effi-
live,” he answe**, “and how acidic the r*in *s.
ciency for transporti*g
Bras* darkens *it* age, taking on r*ch *ronze
water. For the funnel shape
*r brow* ton*s. *oppe* *lso da*k*ns *ith
of each c**, together with
age and *en*s to take on more of the *a*iliar
the hole at the b**t*m,
*reen pati** effec*. None of our cha*ns *re
chann*ls rainwat*r fro*
finished with lacquer, so they all undergo a
one cup to th* ne*t in t*e
natu*a* aging pr*ce*s.”
**inTrade offers t*e *idest *election
Tra*itional Ch*rm
Jap*nese hom*owners often
of qu*lit* g*tt*r supplies a*y*here!
In t*e Japanese language, r*in chains are
place a sto*ew*re o* ce*am-
called k*sari doi a*d, Mar*e relates,“have been
i* pot. *n the United States,
around for centuries.” In Japan, h* says, the
some h*m*ow*ers con-
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    cha*ns *ust for *heir *arden areas.”
    unde* the chain to dissipa*e
    Over t*e cent*ries, rain chains in Ja*an
    falling rainwater. Cerami*
    Circle Re*der Service #1282
    R*printed for G* a Su*ple*ent *o Metal Roo**ng Summer 2006