A roof overhang is the portion of the roof that extends past the exterior walls of your home. It’s also known as a roof eave. The area under the roof eave is called the soffit and gets covered by a protective material such as vinyl, fiberglass, or aluminum.
Most homes have roof overhangs, but the length of the overhang varies by roof style and design. Here’s a look at why your roof has an overhang and the different types.
Benefits of Roof Overhangs
Roof overhangs serve two purposes: protection from weather and aesthetics.
The primary purpose of roof overhangs is to shield against rainfall, snow, and excess heat. Your roof overhang can provide shade to your windows, keeping your home cool in the summer and preventing heavy snowfall and rain from reaching your home’s siding. And in extreme wind storms, an overhang can prevent wind damage to your siding.
Roof overhangs come in sizes that range from 0 to 24 inches. Homes in dry, desert-like climates may have minimal or no roof overhangs. Homes in milder areas have typical overhangs of 12-18 inches, while 18-24 inches if more common in wet or extreme climates.
Types of Roof Overhang Designs
If your roof has an overhang, it will have one of these three designs: open, closed, or boxed. Here’s what each means.
- Open overhang – An open overhang features exposed rafters rather than a soffit material.
- Closed overhang – A closed overhang has a soffit, giving the roof eave a more finished look and offering protection.
- Boxed overhang – A boxed overhang is the most decorative version, featuring a soffit and molding.
13 Types of Overhang Roofs
Aside from location, the style of your house and its roof type plays a large part in the length and design of your roof overhang. For example, minimal homes with flat roofs may have no overhang, while a mid-century modern home with a butterfly roof will have more extended eaves.
A gable roof is one of the most common types. It has two slopes that meet at a ridge and resembles a triangle. The steep pitch of gable roofs allows water and snow to shed. A gable roof has customizable overhangs that contractors can adjust based on preferences and climate.
Gambrel roofs, sometimes called barn roofs, feature two sets of slopes on each side. They are more decorative than gable roofs but provide the same benefits. Gambrel roofs are typical of Dutch colonial homes and some older farmhouses.
A bonnet roof is ideal if you’re looking for something that provides maximum overhangs and shade. The bonnet roof gets its name because it resembles a bonnet. It extends past the side of the home equally on all four sides, making it a popular option for houses with wraparound porches.
A-frame roofs run from the ground up to the peak of the roof. The overhangs are only on the front and back of the home and can be small or large, depending on the design.
A hip roof features sloping sides that meet at a peak or ridge. This style has many variations, including the standard hipped roof, hip and valley, and pyramid roof. A hip roof provides an overhang on all four sides, which can be minimal or lengthy, depending on the homeowner’s needs.
A hip roof is another great option for anyone needing to shade their wraparound porch.
A skillion roof has a single, sloped surface. These roofs are typical in minimal and modern architecture and are customizable, so they can have large or small roof eaves.
The butterfly roof was a popular option during the mid-century modern era but is not a standard type of roof today. It’s the reverse of a gable style, featuring two sides that meet at a ridge and slope upward, giving the appearance of butterfly wings. A typical butterfly roof has an extended roof overhang.
A dutch gable roof features four sloping sides with a gable-style roof in the center. These roofs are common in country homes, lodge-style houses, and Dutch colonial houses. They feature a roof overhang on all four sides.
A shed roof has one sloping side. Architects sometimes use this style in minimal and modern architecture. While the overhang length is adjustable, shed roofs tend to feature short roof eaves.
A lean-to roof is a flat sloping roof used in addition. Like the shed roof, the overhang is adjustable but usually small.
A mansard roof features four sloping sides that are steeper at the bottom than at the top. It’s a cross between the hip roof and the gambrel-style roof. A typical mansard roof provides a spacious roof eave on all four sides of the home.
The jerkinhead roof is a gable style with clipped ends on the sides that help better protect homes from high wind damage. These are typical of Tudor style, Queen Anne, and some craftsman homes. A jerkinhead roof provides the same type of overhang as a gable roof.
Many flat roofs only have an overhang where the gutter system is attached, promoting water to drain away from the structure. While flat roofs don’t require an overhang (except at the gutter edge), you can build one with a roof eave if you’d like.