What Are Roof Eaves? An In-depth Look into Their Structure and Function

Jun 17, 2023


Viking Contractors




June 17, 2023


May 10, 2024

Got Questions?

If you come across a house with a classic architectural style, chances are it’ll have eaves. But what are roof eaves, and what is their function? Do they come in different variations? Also, are there any downsides to them? We’ll answer these questions and more in our guide to roof eaves.

What Are Eaves?

They’re derived from the Old English term “Efes,” meaning “edge.” In roofing, eaves are the roof edges extending slightly past the building. They’re composed of two parts: soffits and fascias.

Eaves have structural, protective, and aesthetic functions. And we’ll help you reap those benefits via proper selection, installation, and finishing. 

At Viking Contractors LLC, we have the expertise and knowledge to install, repair, and inspect your roof eaves. Contact us, and our experts will be happy to assist you!

What Is the Function of Eaves?

roof construction - roof eaves and roof tile construction

Roofs have some practical and aesthetic functions.

Practical Functions

The main function of eaves is to protect your home’s foundation and siding. In cold climates, snow, wind, and rain slide over the rooftop away from the house and onto the ground or gutters. That’s because the roof edges overhang beyond the siding.

The redirection of rainwater helps you protect your basement from water leakage at the roof-to-wall juncture and provide your attic with proper ventilation and sufficient airflow.

In hot climates, the protruding roofing alters the solar gain to fit the weather and creates shaded spots on the building sides, which reduce the heat in interior spaces.

Other benefits include protection against insects, pests, and animal nests and having a good spot to install security cameras and floodlights. After all, they won’t stick out if you attach them to the soffits!

Aesthetic Functions

Rafters (the sloped sides extending from the roof edge) may have a messy, unfinished look. But adding eaves makes it more refined.

Some homeowners leave the rafters exposed for design purposes. So, they refine, paint, and sand them so they don’t become an eyesore. Even then, they add eaves on the globe ends.

In contemporary houses (especially ones with flat roofs), architects use narrow or no eaves to give off that streamlined look.

As for classical architecture, roof eaves are a prominent feature. For example, Dutch Colonial houses had straight and curved roof eaves to emulate the style of traditional Dutch Caps.

If you research Asian buildings from the Zhou period, you may find eaves long and sloping. They’re especially common on pagodas, the Hindu or Buddhist temples, usually in the famous style of tiered towers.

Moving on to the U.S., Frank Lloyd Wright gave residential homes prairie-style eaves. They featured cascading lines to the ground.

What Are the Types of Eaves?

There are four main types of roof eaves.

1. Open Eaves

New roof and rain gutter open eaves

Open or exposed eaves are overhangs with no soffits, leaving their undersides and rafters exposed. This eave style attracts bees, wasps, and birds, which explains why it’s uncommon in modern homes.

2. Closed Eaves

Unlike open eaves, closed or soffit ones feature soffits that close and finish the eaves’ undersides (at a perpendicular angle from the roof pitch). This type usually has a soffit board, a longboard attached to the bottom of the rafters connecting the overhang.

3. Box Eaves

This overhang is enclosed with a soffit and one or more layers of ornamental molding (to protect the eave against the elements), which block the rafter from vision. It’s similar to closed eaves because of its incasing. But, unlike it, a boxed-in eave is parallel to the roof pitch.

4. Abbreviated Eaves

Abbreviated eaves have minimal overhang and are positioned at a 90-degree angle. They may be close to the elements, but they protect your house against wind, rain, harsh weather conditions, and pests.

What Are the Components of Eaves?

installation of roof eaves

As mentioned, roof eaves have two main components, which are:


The fascia board or roofline is the front-facing straight board fixed vertically at the meeting point between the roof and the outer walls of your home. So, it closes the gap between them. 

Its main function is presenting assets to the tiles in the last row and supporting the roof structure. And you can spot it if you stand facing the house. The main fascia types are as follows:

  • Vinyl Fascia
  • Aluminium Fascia
  • Wooden Fascia
  • Unplasticized Vinyl Fascia (UPVC)


The soffit is a plain and solid material that goes under the fascia board at a 90-degree angle to the house’s exterior walls (facing downward). It bridges the gap between them and the fascia and is essentially a ventilated covering for the attic. 

Also, roofers fix the gutters to the fascia board. You’ll find it in three varieties:

  • Solid soffits
  • Vented soffits
  • Hollow soffits

What Are the Drawbacks of Eaves?

We’ve detailed the many positives to roof eaves, but what are the negatives?

Attracting Pests

Eaves, especially open ones, may prevent pests and animals from nesting on your roof, but they are themselves good environments for nests. Otherwise, boxed eaves are popular homes for carpenter bees.

After all, the protruding overhang gives wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, birds, and even big animals (like squirrels and raccoons) a protected environment to build their nests. Additionally, animals and birds (like bats) might enter your house’s interior via the soffit’s ventilation holes.

Luckily, cleaning your eaves and plugging any holes makes all the difference. You can even use repellent, spike, and jel products to keep these trespassers away.

Causing Wind Damage

Installing the wrong eave style has its repercussions. If you install anything other than abbreviated eaves in a house that’s typically exposed to high winds and extreme conditions, you risk wind uplifting. That’s why you need a top-notch professional for the job.

Final Words

We hope our answer to the question “What are roof eaves?” was well-rounded. These edges protruding past your wall siding are composed of soffits and fascias, and they come in several types.

To determine the right type for your house, you need an expert. Contact us, and a Viking Contractors LLC professional will support you with industry experience, professional knowledge, and proper installation.

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