Splash Blocks vs Downspout Extensions

Regular gutter system maintenance ensures that rainwater is directed toward the downspouts and then drains safely away from the foundation of your home. But sometimes the downpipes need a little help. When runoff regularly pools beneath the downspouts or a landscaped area becomes too saturated with runoff, you might need to add accessories to improve the performance of your system. Both splash blocks and downspout extensions divert water away from the foundation, but which one would best suit your home?

What are Splash Blocks?

Splash blocks are typically rectangular in shape, resemble a tray with one end open, and made of concrete, plastic or metal. It might not be obvious to the eye, but a splash block has a slight angle built into the bottom of the “tray.” They can offer a simple solution to downspouts that drain too close to a home’s foundation.

A splash block is usually narrower at the closed end placed below the downspout than it is at the open end where the runoff exits. Splash blocks help prevent soil erosion by distributing the rainwater over a wider area, reducing the effect of the water’s impact on the lawn or flowerbed.

What are Downspout Extensions?

There are two basic kinds of downspout extensions, flexible and fixed. They are designed to be attached to the end of existing downpipes. A flexible downspout is constructed of heavy-duty plastics, while fixed extensions are made of metal or strong plastics. Both flexible extensions and fixed downspout extenders are available in different types designed for a specific purpose. For example, roll-out extensions (flexible) can be rolled up out of the way when not in use, and hinged extensions, a style of fixed downspout extenders, can be folded up when cutting the lawn.

Downspout extensions can be installed above ground or buried out of sight. They do involve more installation work than splash blocks, especially ones installed below ground.

When to Use a Splash Block

Use a splash block when you don’t need to direct runoff away from landscaped areas where it can do damage. The primary purpose of splash blocks is to protect ground from soil erosion. When downspouts are short, they also prevent water from being deposited too close to exterior walls and seeping into the foundation or basement.

In an eco-friendly landscaping design, a decorative or whimsical splash block provides a focal point, transforming the area around a utilitarian downspout into a water feature.

Whether it’s made of concrete, metal or plastic, slightly embed the splash block into to soil rather than placing it on top of the ground. This will ensure it’s not knocked out of alignment by shifting soil, foot traffic, or lawn care equipment.

When to Use a Downspout Extender

The main difference between splash blocks and extensions is distance – downspout extensions carry runoff a greater distance than splash blocks. A downspout extender will address specific issues such as:

  • Regular basement flooding
  • Living in an area with high annual rainfall
  • Land around your home slopes toward the house

Downspout extension can provide an alternative solution to drainage issues when there is not enough space, for example, between a neighbour’s property or a detached garage.