What Is a Rain Chain? (And Why Our Designers Love Them!)

Certain aspects of a home’s exterior are purely decorative, while others are mainly functional. Some elements, however, can serve both purposes. Such is the case with rain chains, a design feature that’s gaining popularity with homeowners across the country. In this post, we explain what a rain chain is and why our designers love using them, as well as share several designs featuring rain chains to provide you with some inspiration for your own home. 

Want to explore other exterior design terms and expand your vocabulary? Check out our exterior design dictionary. Or peruse our roundup of unique exterior design words our clients have taught us.

From smaller details like rain chains and porch lights to larger elements such as multi-level decks and patio enclosures, we’re here to help you visualize all aspects of your home’s exterior. As the leaders in virtual exterior design, we make it easy to achieve the home of your dreams. Learn more about what we do.

A rendering of a home with a rain chain

What is a rain chain?

In short, a rain chain is an attractive downspout alternative. Like downspouts, rain chains play a crucial role in protecting your home from water damage. They connect to your gutters and guide water down to a drain or other water-collection receptacle. 

According to Happy Gardens, rain chains originated in Japan, where they are called kusari-doi, and there are two main styles: cup or link. While the cup variety is considered better for homes in climates that get a lot of rain, both styles are effective and widely used.

A rendering of a home with a rain chain

Rain chains vs. downspouts

Rain chains and downspouts achieve the same goal in a similar way, but there are some advantages to rain chains. For one, rain chains are less likely to clog because leaves and debris can’t pass through them. They also add a unique charm to a home’s exterior that can’t be achieved with downspouts. Rain chains also act as a water feature of sorts because of the waterfall-like sound they make as water runs through them. (Check out some other brick&batten designer-approved water feature ideas.)

Now that we’ve covered the basics of what a rain chain is, check out some of our favorite designs featuring rain chains below.

A rendering of a home with copper rain chains

Copper rain chain

Rain chains come in a wide variety of colors and designs. In the rendering above, our designers used a copper rain chain on both sides of the front porch. These rain chains match the copper gutters and downspouts (yes, you can use downspouts and rain chains together) and tie in nicely with the modern wood porch columns, wood shutters, and front door.

A rendering of a modern home exterior with bright front door

Modern rain chain

Our designers selected a sleek and modern rain chain for the home above to complement its clean, fresh exterior. Incorporating a rain chain on the far left and right side of the home also helps create symmetry.

A rendering of a home exterior with outdoor living space

An outdoor oasis with rain chains

With lush green grass and landscaping, two cozy seating areas, and a tall wood fence for privacy, this home’s yard is an outdoor oasis. The black rain chains add to the zen-like atmosphere and help to further frame the porch area. They also play well with the black metal roof and black downspouts.

A rendering of a home with a patio and fresh landscaping

Rain chains as decoration

We love how the rain chains in this design add some whimsy to the right side of the home. They pop against the light siding, rendered in Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, without distracting from the overall design. They also match other features of the home, including the garage door, eaves, and light fixtures, creating a sense of cohesion.

A rendering of an h-shaped home with a courtyard

Courtyard curb appeal

This home’s interesting shape made it a fun project to tackle. The mix of natural materials used and the landscaping in the courtyard and along the front fence connect the home to its surroundings. Multiple rain chains were used throughout and add another layer of interest to the design.

A rendering of a home with dark exterior siding

Ready to install some rain chains?

Rain chains are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. They keep your home safe from water damage while boosting its curb appeal at the same time. We love incorporating rain chains into our designs and hope this article has inspired you to do the same for your home.

We believe all homes have potential and everyone deserves a property with great curb appeal. That’s why we consider every detail — big and small — when rendering a new look for your exterior. Plus, we make it easy to bring our vision to life with a clickable resource list featuring all the elements used in our design. Don’t delay your dream home any longer. Begin your exterior design project with brick&batten today.