Adding Roof Overhangs

Roof overhangs, commonly known as eaves are sometimes added to an existing home. In this article we will discuss why you may want to add them, tell what is involved and consider some different designs.

There are several advantages to having roof overhangs on your home. We will go over some of the main advantages next.

Perhaps the most important advantage is removing water away from the roofline. If you do not have overhangs then water will run straight down the side of your home and even into the basement in some cases.

The next major advantage lies in extending the life of your roof. In a home with no eaves, the rain water will saturate the ends of the roof where there is little or no ventilation without an overhang. That causes mold and eventual rotting at the edges of your roof.

Another great advantage is the way that eaves protect the side of your home from water damage. Without them, the water just runs right down the side of the home. Even if you have a gutter system, without eaves, your outside walls are more exposed to the elements.

The final reason we will mention here is the added curb appeal and increased value of the home. Adding eaves makes your house look better built and more attractive, adding both curb appeal and monetary value to your home.

Design Considerations

Before you start building new eaves onto your home, you should consider your options. Find out what type of overhang is going to do the job best for your particular situation. Some things to consider are:

Can you get to the existing rafters easily? If you cannot get to the rafters from the attic or only to parts of them, this may affect the length of the rafter extensions you use and ultimately the length of the overhangs. If you cannot access the rafters through the attic of your home, then you will have to tear off part of the roof sheathing in order to expose the ends of the rafters by at least two feet or more.

Two feet is a common recommended overlap for the rafter extensions, but if you want eaves that overhang more than 24 inches from the side of your house, then you may want to overlap more. Some people in the home remodeling business will recommend that you decide the length of your overhang and then multiply that times three and the left over amount is the amount of your overhang. That may be a little much in some cases, but it is not bad advice because the more overlap you have, the stronger the overhangs are going to be.

How to add Roof Overhangs to your House

Here is where we will provide you with general instructions on how to add the roof overhangs once you have taken into the available options for your particular situation. There is not a one size fits all roofing overhang guide, but the general idea is usually the same, so here are the steps you will be taking to add overhangs to your existing home:

1) First thing you will do is to remove the old fascia and trim so that the ends of the rafters are exposed. Make sure the wall plate is well exposed. At this point you should be able to see into your attic (hopefully).

2) Now you will determine what size rafter extensions to use. This is commonly done by seeing what fit’s the tightest. Once you find the size lumber that fits, cut it to size allowing at least 24 inches for overlapping the old rafters.

3) If your overlap was 24 inches, then mark off 24 inches from the end of each rafter that will be getting an extension. If you need more than 24 inches for bigger overhangs, than mark them accordingly.

4) Cut your rafter extensions to size considering the overlap size as well. So, if you wanted an 18 inch overhang, you would be good with a 24 inch overlap and have a total extension length of 42 inches for each. Make sure that you have one plum cut on each extension that will face outward from the house so you don’t have to trim them later.

5) You will need two people for this next part. Have a helper hand in the rafter extensions while you nail them in place. If you have attic access, then this is not a problem. If you don’t have access through the attic, you will need to peel back the existing roof sheathing enough to be able to complete this step. You need to drive a spike through the extension and into the rafter about every six inches at least for a 24 inch overlap. If you can’t get a good swing on a hammer in this tight spot, you may need a framing nail gun or a palm gun.

6) Now that you have your extensions in place, you can begin adding your fascia onto the rafter extensions just like it was on the original rafter tails.

7) Add the roof sheathing to the overhang next. If you had to tear up the sheathing on the roof to install the rafter extensions, reinstall that sheathing first. Try to match the thickness of the sheathing on the overhang with the sheathing on the roof within about 1/8 inch.

8) The final step is to shingle your overhang. This project can often be timed to do at the same time as you re-shingle an old roof. That way your shingles will match on the overhang as well. If you are not redoing the whole roof with new shingles, it may be hard to find a shingle to match the existing ones and some discoloring is inevitable unfortunately, so you will be able to notice where the overhang was installed unless you redo your entire roof.


That pretty much covers it all. Follow these basic instructions and you will add life to your roof, walls and your basement. You will also increase your home’s curb appeal as well as the overall value of the house. So, there are several reasons that we have mentioned here to explain why adding overhangs to an old home can be a great idea.

As we mentioned above, this is a job that may be best done at the same time as you plan to redo the shingles on your roof. That way you won’t be able to notice a difference where you added new shingles to the overhang. That’s all folks! Enjoy yourself while adding your new eaves to your home and enjoy all the benefits from them as well.

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