Rain Chain installation

What is a Rain Chain? Advantages and Disadvantages with Original Ideas

Rain chains are a beautiful and functional alternative to traditional closed downspouts. Guiding the rainwater visibly downwards by chains or vessels from the ceiling to the ground, the rain chains transform the concept of downspout into a pleasant source of water. The soft clink of the drops and the gentle breeze of water are a pleasure to see and hear.

Rain Chain installation

What is a rain chain?

Rain chains are not a new idea. For hundreds of years, the Japanese have used the roof of their houses to collect water, transporting it down with a chain and finally depositing rainwater in large barrels for domestic use. Japanese temples often incorporate quite ornate and large rain chains in their design. Rain chains are also found in South America, where a chain is easier to obtain than pipe downspouts.


The designs of the open drains are close to the original form of the downpipe. However, they tend to splash more than the pipes and this can be important when planning to place them in areas that are close to doors, windows or corridors.

From simple link chains to more sophisticated combinations of forms, this type of drain offers a more open and airy appearance and clean lines. They are often used in modern architectural designs but are also suitable for rustic environments such as cabins and cottages.

Cup designs offer an improvement in performance and efficiency. The open-bottomed vessels function as funnels, directing the water in the cup down in the next. Even when there is torrential rain, these downpipe models splash very little so that they can be placed anywhere. The cups can have many shapes and sizes and can also be made of very varied materials.


The installation process is generally simple and straightforward. The rain chains hang from the hole where the downpipe was before, using a fixing piece. When there is a mismatch because the hole is larger than the chain, a separate Installation Kit is used to reduce the hole and focus the water down on the chain.

On the bottom

The Japanese often put a ceramic pot below the chain that is filled with water, so that when it rains, water drips from the chain into the pot, creating a beautiful waterfall.

You can make a square under the chains and fill it with small pebbles. If it is wet regularly, the moss will grow between the pebbles. You can also place a single pavement tile or some medium-sized stones under the chain to break the waterfall. Your local nursery may have a ceramic pot or saucer that will be a good capture vessel.

Advantages and disadvantages of the rain chain

The rain chain is an alternative installation that takes the place of traditional downspouts. Rain chains are made of multiple containers that are joined by a single long chain. In this way, each of them is drained in the container below. This creates a decorative and functional way where water moves through a gutter system that takes it to the floor of your garden. Due to its unique structure, there are some distinct advantages and disadvantages associated with rain chains. Understanding what these pros and cons can help you decide whether rain chains are the right solution for your home’s needs.

Advantages of the rain chain

Aesthetics: The main advantage of installing rain chains in your garden over traditional downspouts is the fact that they look much better. They can be made from a wide range of different materials and often have decorative patterns and designs implemented directly in their structure. Also, some models of rain chains even make noise, similar to wind chimes, when water passes through them, which makes them an excellent design option for your garden.

Ease of installation: Another key advantage of rain chains is that they are extremely easy to install. All you have to do is hang them just below your gutter system. It can be done in minutes without special tools. That can help reduce the labor costs associated with your roof.

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Disadvantages of the rain chain

Flow limit: one of the most important disadvantages of the rain chain compared to traditional downspouts is the fact that they can be overwhelmed during periods of heavy rains, which can cause flooding and erosion in the area surrounding the base of the chain. This means that rain chains are ideal only for areas that receive light amounts of rain throughout the year.

Flow direction: Similar to the previous points, one of the main disadvantages of rain chains is that they cannot direct water away from your home. Which means that water will fall on the ground near the base of your home. It can increase the risk of flooding and water damage. While you can mitigate this risk by having your rain chains flow into a rain barrel or through a landscaping design around the base of your home, it is still something to consider when considering buying a rain chain.

If you want to make your DIY rain chain to replace the traditional water drain of your home here we offer our tips and ideas:

Unlike the downspouts that can often seem unsightly, these DIY works look like jewels that decorate the facade of your home. While they are often made of copper in the form of real jewelry, rain chains are not limited to this material.

At least one of them will surely complement the architecture of your home regardless of style. The option of installing a rain chain is undoubtedly a good alternative with an additional decorative touch.

However, many houses are already equipped with a bulky downpipe system. For this reason, you will first have to remove the gutters to install your rain chain.

Original ideas for rain chains

Rain chains are a creative and original way to add a personal and different touch to your garden. There is nothing that creates the feeling of tranquility and satisfaction like the water flowing smoothly, neither too loud nor too quiet. These designs should give you some ideas to create your own unique rain chain.

Stones Rain Chain

A stone rain chain is quite unique and easy to make. Drill holes in flat rocks and then spread them on a thin rope. Be sure to use a sturdy hook to hang as the chain will be quite heavy!

Rain chain made of buckets

If you like the noise that rain makes on a tin roof, a chain of cubes can give you the same sounds. Great for falling asleep while the droplets fall one after another. Be sure to empty and clean them periodically so that dry leaves do not accumulate and algae grow inside the buckets.

Glass bottle rain chain

Glass bottles also produce beautiful sounds. Use bottles of different sizes to play different “notes.” You can cut the bottles using the acetone method. Be sure to heat the bottle enough to cut without leaving irregular edges.

Copper rain chain

Copper shines beautifully outside and these flowers will eventually get a pretty green patina. Cut copper sheets and shape them and then hang them together with a chain and attach it to your channel. As the waterfalls, it will sound like a fountain.

Pine Cones Rain Chain

A cheap handmade idea that is easy to do. Simply drill a “petal” of the pine cone and then hook the next one with a ring. This will rot eventually, so you will need to make a new one every year.

Chain of rain of colored pots

Those adorable little pots in the garden shop create a large rain chain and have pre-drilled holes. Paint them the color you want to match the style of your garden.

Rain chain watering succulent plants

Succulents will grow on almost anything and a rain chain ensures regular watering. Make sure that each “pot” has a hole in the bottom to allow water to drip to the next plant and that the roots do not rot.

Cup rain chain

A cup of tea is an ideal use for old or broken pottery. Simply glue the plates to the cups and stick them on the chain hooks. You can find them at any thrift store if you don’t have old glasses at home.

Wooden pieces rain chain

The wood dragged by the currents has a beautiful hollow sound that is lovely both in the rain and when it is windy. Using this material, you can create very relaxing rain chains similar to wind chimes. Any stick will work: drill a hole and string with the fishing line.

Teapot or shower rain chain

A beautiful chain idea to bring water from the roof to the ground consists of teapots that fill with water and empty one over another. Use aluminum instead of steel, so it doesn’t rust over time. Place them at lower intervals so that water continues to flow from one pot to another.

Rain chain of painted wine bottles

If you want to make a chain of wine bottles, but you don’t want them to look like such, paint the bottles of your favorite color after cutting them.

Cast Iron Rain Chain

Cast iron is very heavy, so you must have a sturdy hook for these fish. Solid iron makes a much deeper sound when raindrops fall. Also, keep in mind that it will oxidize over time and will need regular rust or paint treatments.

Old Cutlery Rain Chain

The old metal hanging cutlery emits a lovely sound when they collide with each other and give a vintage touch to the rain chain.

Wire rain chain and metal strips

An easy DIY with metal and wire strips. You can also use a corrugated sheet and cut it into strips. Bend the ends of the metal to create an edge so that it can be hung from the cable or rope. A metal “rain chain” that resonates like a tuning fork when the raindrops hit it will end with a rusty patina, but you can always paint it.

Copper bucket rain chain

Copper cubes hooked with simple wires create a modern and minimalist rain chain. The green patina that will appear over time will add a pleasant texture.

Rain chain of stacked bottles

Instead of hanging the bottles, put them stacked and standing. Elevate them so that they lean and you will have the water flowing down like a fountain.

Ceramic rain chain

Perfect use for antique pottery or artisan pottery if you can find it is to display it in the form of a rain chain. Drill small holes for the cable and hitch.

Many different materials such as pure copper, iron, brass, aluminum, mud, plastic and many others can be used in the manufacture of a rain chain. With this almost unlimited variety of materials, you can create a wide range of styles and prices.

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About the author


Kim Lee lives in Tampa, Florida and focuses on living an intentionally happy life, helping others live better, and having a whole lot of fun. She loves to write, read, enjoy the outdoors, and play with dogs.

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