Roof eaves are the edges of a roof that extend past a house’s walls. They serve a practical purpose by diverting water and pests away from the foundation but also add to a home’s curb appeal.
This guide will help you learn more about roof eaves, how they function, the different types of overhangs, and the advantages and disadvantages of having them. You’ll even find some tips and tricks for maintaining roof eaves so they’ll continue to function properly.
Most of the time, eaves refer to the part of the roof that overhangs the side of your home, comprised of two components: soffit and fascia.
Sometimes called the roofline, the fascia board is the front-facing board mounted where the roof meets the outer walls of a house, closing the gap between the two. A soffit sits under the fascia and closes the gap between the fascia board and the exterior wall.
Depending on the architectural style of your home, you may have a particular style of eaves. For example, Craftsman-style homes have exposed roof rafters. The homes are built with a low-pitched roof with a wide overhang to achieve this look. No soffit is attached, which leaves the rafters exposed. Other homes might have added decorative features like corbels or brackets. While these features don’t serve a practical purpose, aesthetically, they can add a lot of visual interest to a home.
Some homes don’t have eaves, like homes with flat roofs. While this might make sense aesthetically, a home without eaves can be more vulnerable to the elements.
Eaves help divert water and other precipitation off the shingles, away from your home, into gutters, or onto the ground, all of which can help protect the siding and foundation. Having eaves on your home can also help keep a basement dry.
For particularly hot or sunny climates, properly positioned eaves can create shade on the side of the building, naturally helping to control your home’s interior temperature, especially during the summer months. In addition to protecting a home and its occupants from the elements, many people find the eaves of their home ideal for installing floodlights and security cameras.
Typically, architects and home builders will use any of these four basic types of eaves:
- Abbreviated eaves: An abbreviated eave is cut at a 90-degree angle, so there is little to no roof overhang.
- Boxed eaves: In addition to a soffit, boxed eaves are enclosed with one or multiple layers of ornamental molding.
- Closed eaves: A closed eave has a soffit that encloses the underside of the eaves.
- Open eaves: An open eave or exposed eave has no soffit, leaving an open underside and exposed roof rafters.
Not all houses have eaves. While this may expose parts of your roof or home, they aren’t necessarily critical. Below, we’ve explored some of the benefits and downsides of eaves.
In addition to water and shade control for your home, eaves offer the following benefits:
- Wind control: The type of eaves you have can help control the force exerted on your roof and home in extreme wind conditions. Depending on where you live, your home may be better suited to a particular eave style for wind control and airflow.
- Covered entryways: If you live in an area with heavy snow or rainfall, the eaves of your home can offer protection from the elements as you enter and exit your home.
- Protection of your siding: The eaves of your home help keep water and other precipitation from damaging the exterior siding.
- Protection from UV damage: The shade from your home’s eaves doesn’t just help control your home’s temperature — it can protect your furnishings from potential UV damage.
While there are plenty of upsides to having eaves on your home, there are some drawbacks:
- Wind uplifting: Some styles of eaves are not well-suited to areas prone to high winds and extreme weather. In these instances, your home may be outfitted with an abbreviated eave or no eaves to prevent wind uplifting.
- Pests: Open eaves often provide a good location for insects or animals to nest. If you have open eaves, your home may be prone to birds, squirrels, and wasp infestations. Even homes with boxed eaves are susceptible to infestations from carpenter bees.
Maintaining your eaves should be a part of your regular home maintenance routine. While a roof warranty will protect certain parts of your roof, many warranties won’t cover you if you’ve neglected to perform regular maintenance.
We recommend doing the following in order to keep your roof eaves in tip-top shape.
- Clean gutters: The most effective way to care for your eaves is to clean your gutters — this type of maintenance prevents excess weight or standing water from damaging your roof, particularly the fascia.
- Inspect your eaves regularly: At least twice a year, visually inspect your eaves for cracks, holes, or discoloration. These are signs of deterioration that you’ll need to address.
- Address problems as they arise: If you notice any black streaking on the fascia or soffits, it indicates water damage, and you should clean it promptly. Use a mild bleach or dish liquid solution. If you notice cracks, you can caulk and repaint them. Holes may be an indication of a pest infestation that requires professional remediation.
- Paint fascia and soffits regularly: Plan to paint wood fascia and soffits once every three to five years. This will help protect them from the elements and keep your home looking fresh.
- Hang decoy nests to discourage wasps: Decoy nests won’t repel wasps, but they can encourage wasps to find a different area to live.
Fascia boards and soffits have a life expectancy of about 10 years. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you may need to replace them sooner:
- Rotted wood
- Algae or mold growth
- Missing boards
- Sagging sections
If you need to replace your fascia or soffits, you should replace them with pressure-treated wood or PVC boards, as these materials offer superior resistance to the elements.
While you can replace fascia and soffit boards on your own, it does require removing your gutter system. Consider hiring a professional roofing contractor to ensure proper removal and reinstallation.
Roof eaves are a part of your entire roof system. Roofs typically have an average life span of 20 to 30 years, but their life span depends on various factors.
If your roof doesn’t have an overhang, framing on a roof addition is fairly straightforward. However, plan to hire an expert if you want it to appear seamless with proper support.
The “right” type of roof eaves for your home depends on multiple factors, from where you live to the style of your home. The best decision is to consult an architect or roofing professional for advice.
Generally, replacing eaves costs between $2,000 and $5,000. You may have to spend more or less depending on the extent of damage and the materials needed.