Roof Eaves vs Roof Rakes | Is There a Difference?

Eaves

Rakes

Are you getting a roof repair or planing a new or replacement roof? If you don’t work in construction, and specifically roof construction, then there will be many new roofing terms that you will be unfamiliar with. Case in point…what is the difference between an eave and a rake?

In this RenoCompare comparison report we will define a roof eave and a roof rake and the differences between them. We will also bring you up to speed on the materials used for each and what you can expect in terms of maintenance and repairs. Finally we will tackle eave vs rake longevity and your most frequently asked questions.

Differences | What is an Eave | What is a Rake | Attic Ventilation | Materials | Maintenance | Durability | FAQ’s

The roof of your home is important, protecting the rest of your house from the elements. Finding trustworthy, experienced roofing contractors is key. When hiring roofing professionals, we recommend you get several quotes from local contractors. RenoCompare can help put you in touch with reliable professionals. After you’ve finished this report click here to get up to four free, no obligation quotes from local, qualified roofing contractors.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RAKES AND EAVES?

An eave and a rake are almost exactly the same thing with a few exceptions.

First, a home’s eaves are horizontal roof overhangs at the bottom edge of a roof section. The rakes are sloped sections of overhangs that run from the eaves to the roof peak. In other words, gables on a home have rakes overhanging them.

Oh, and gutters are attached to eaves but not rakes. That’s why gutters used to be called eave troughs. The eaves should also have drip edges to facilitate water runoff. They’re not needed on rakes.

Further Reading:
Vinyl vs Aluminum Gutters
Eaves vs Soffit

Both eaves and rakes are part of the same roofing system, covered with the same roofing material. The underside of both is called soffit. The board on the front of an eave or roof rake is a fascia board, though they’re also called rake boards when installed on roof rakes.

Finally, a roof chimney might interrupt the flow of a roof rake up the slope of the roof.

WHAT ARE ROOF EAVES?

Eaves are the horizontal overhang caused when roof trusses are used that are wider than the house. A home is framed with oversize trusses by design. The overhanging eave ensures that if water runs off the roof or overruns the gutters, it won’t fall against the house siding or near the foundation. Sure, both provide a small amount of shade or shelter but those are not primary reasons for either.

Did you know there are three types of eaves? Open eaves or exposed eaves don’t have any material extending back from the fascia to the wall. An open eave forms a small cavity beneath the eave – a great spot for wasps and other insects to nest. Closed eaves are standard today, and they employ aluminum, vinyl, fiber cement, concrete board or wood/wood composite like T1-11 to cover the space between the fascia and the house. Finally, boxed eaves are similar to closed eaves, but they have a distinctly boxy look and might extend lower down the exterior wall than a closed eave.

WHAT ARE RAKES?

We can make this simple. Rakes are the same thing as eaves, as noted, but slope from the eaves to the gable peak or ridge of the roof. The board used to join the eave and rake is called a frieze board. The sloped front of a dormer also features rake boards.

Roof rakes are also designed to extend out from the house structure to provide better protection from the elements. Open, closed and boxed are also types of roof rakes.

Did you know that hip roofs do not have rakes, only eaves? Rakes are part of a gable roof only.

Further Reading: Hip Roof Versus Gable

ATTIC VENTILATION

Rakes and eaves are essential parts of a healthy attic space and home.

You might notice that the material on the soffit, that is the underside, of these structures is either perforated or in some other way vented. The vents or perforations allow airflow into the attic.

Hot, humid air builds up inside the attic. If it isn’t vented, it causes serious issues with mold, mildew, rotten framing and failed roofing materials.

To alleviate the issues, ridge vents are installed at top of the roof ridge. The moisture laden hot air naturally flows up and is vented out the ridge vents and any roof vents that are installed. But this can only happen effectively if fresh, drier and cooler air can be pulled in from outside – and that is accomplished with vented or perforated soffit on eaves and rakes.

Further Reading: Ridge Vents Versus Box Vents

Tip: Be sure your attic insulation doesn’t cover the vents in the soffit and restrict air flow. This is a common mistake that leads to expensive attic and roof repairs.

MATERIALS USED FOR EAVES AND RAKES

These parts of a roof consist of several components.

The roof deck is formed using sheets of plywood or OSB attached to the trusses or rafters. Underlayment, moisture barrier and shingles or other roofing type is installed onto the roof deck.

The fascia board on eaves is nailed to the rafter or truss tails. These boards can be bare wood, usually pine, though cedar is sometimes used for durability. It is better to “wrap” the board in thin aluminum or, where appropriate, with a copper sheath.

You can also find solid PVC or vinyl fascia boards to replace wood and eliminate the possibility of rot, paint peeling and insect infestation.

The soffit, or underside, of these roof parts extends from the fascia board to the exterior wall of the home where it is held in place using a piece of trim on the siding or brick. When the soffit is closed or boxed, as most are these days, material choices are those mentioned. Perforated vinyl and aluminum are popular and cheap. Vented fiber cement and wood provide a more robust aesthetic and come with a higher price tag.

EAVE/RAKE  AND SOFFIT MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS

Keep in mind that eaves and rakes are structures consisting of multiple parts, and each part has different maintenance needs.

Roofing: The key to a home’s durability is to keep the roof in good condition. Shingles should be replaced when they are cracked or cupped, become brittle and easily broken or if most of their granules are gone.

Fascia and soffit: Vinyl and aluminum need little maintenance but should be replaced if their color fades or they become chalky. Fiber cement board and wood both need periodic painting. If soffit of any type starts sagging, replace it before rodents, birds and insects can get around it and into your attic.

Any storm damage or damage accrued with age should be repaired as soon as it becomes apparent.

EAVE AND SOFFIT DURABILITY

Expect to replace aluminum and vinyl materials used in the eaves and rakes every 15 to 20 years. Wood and fiber cement can last up to 40 years when maintained. Roofing shingles have a durability of 15-25 years, and the home’s roof deck should last indefinitely with proper upkeep of the roofing material.

FAQ

What is a rake rafter?

It is a specially designed roof rafter or truss that creates the rake of a roof – the rake overhang.

Rake of a roof vs roof rake. Is there a difference?

Yes. The rake of a roof is what has been discussed above. A roof rake is a tool used from the ground to pull snow off of a roof.

What are common problems with the rake of a roof?

Rotten roof boards caused by poor maintenance are the number one issue. You can head off this rake damage by using materials better suited to handling the elements – PVC or vinyl, and if you prefer the look of wood, select cedar over pine. Bare wood should be covered with vinyl or aluminum.

Once the rake boards are compromised, you might also have problems with pests getting into the attic – and from there, into your home.

Finally, if the rake is broken up by a chimney, be sure that the flashing around the chimney is in good condition, properly positioned and caulked or tarred at the top.

How often should eaves and rakes be inspected?

At least twice a year and after heavy storms cause damage in your area. A roofing contractor will usually also check rakes and eaves for damage and recommend repair or replacement if needed.


REVIEWED AND FACT-CHECKED BY JAMIE SANDFORD

Jamie Sandford - Owner and Lead Editor at RenoCompareJamie Sandford is the Chief Editor at RenoCompare (find out more). Jamie has been involved in construction for over 30 years. Straight out of college, Jamie worked with construction crews for the television, film and theatre industries for over 12 years. In his thirties, he turned his attention to DIY decorating and construction, working on many house renovations and remodels. During this time he started to specialize in home flooring and in 2013 he launched the Home Flooring Pros website. Two years later he launched RenoCompare.

“I’ve seen interior design, remodeling, and construction from both sides of the street, contractors on one side and homeowners on the other. My aim is to close the gap between the professionals and the consumers and make it easier for both sides to work smoothly and effectively side by side. At RenoCompare we want to save you time and money by giving you the information you need as simply and as quickly as possible!”

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