A shed roof overhang is something most homeowners don’t think about until their standing in the rain, trying to get the door unlocked or fretting about all the water that’s suddenly pooling around the shed’s foundation.
Building a shed roof with an overhang is an important part of protecting your shed and thus should not be overlooked. This guide will help you decide what shed overhang is best for your shed and walk you through the installation process.
What Is A Roof Overhang?
An overhang is the portion of the roof that runs past the wall, providing coverage for the space around the foundation of your shed. Overhangs can vary in width from a few inches to several feet. On sheds and homes, overhangs are commonly referred to as eaves or rakes, depending on where they are located.
Benefits of Roof Overhang on Sheds
While shed overhangs may seem forgettable, they have many important benefits that protect your shed and improve its aesthetics.
Overhangs also provide protection from the elements by shielding windows, walls, and doors from rain, while at the same time directing water away from your shed’s foundation.
As with a front porch on your home, an overhang on your shed roof is a convenient feature when it’s raining and you’re trying to unlock your shed’s door.
Shed overhangs also help to regulate the temperature inside the shed by blocking sunlight from shining directly through windows in the summertime when the sun is higher in the sky. During the winter, when the sun is lower in the sky, overhangs allow the sun to shine through the windows to warm the shed.
Sheds with large overhangs can also provide additional storage space for equipment. The space under a shed overhang is a dry place to stack firewood or lean your wheelbarrow.
There are also aesthetic benefits to roof overhangs. Like it or not, a shed will be a significant feature in your yard. You want that feature to add to the appearance of your property, not detract from it. Overhangs add character and help your shed avoid that boxy flat look.
Types of Roof Overhangs
There are two types of roof overhangs two consider. You may want one or the other or both. A rake is an overhang located on the gable end of your roof. A rake overhang is created by extending the roof beyond the gables of your shed.
An eave overhang is located on the longer sides of the shed. An eave is created by extending the slope of your roof beyond the walls of your shed. Most sheds with overhangs incorporate both rakes and eaves into their design to give the shed a balanced look.
How to Build an Overhang on a Shed
While it may seem like a complicated task, building a shed with overhang doesn’t require much more additional effort than building a conventional roof. And while it may cost you a little more in material, the benefits, as I discussed above, are more than worth it.
How big to make the overhang depends on what you need it for. A shed with an 8-foot eave height would benefit from an overhang of just 6”. This will protect the tops of windows and door openings from moisture while directing water away from the foundation.
Larger overhangs can help to keep you dry while standing at the shed’s doorway and prevent the sun from heating your shed. Overhangs can vary from a few inches to a few feet depending on preference; however, the suggested width of an overhang is between 12” and 18” for eaves and no more than 8” for rakes. That said, overhangs can extend as far as 2’ without the need for external supports.
The size of the roof overhang you choose depends largely on the style of your shed’s roof.
With a flat shed roof, the roof simply extends past the wall plate to provide an overhang. Because this style of a shed has a flat roof, it can facilitate a wider overhang, which is ideal for storage.
For gabled roofs, the roof rafters extending beyond the wall caps, creating an angled roof overhang on the eaves. Due to the steeper angle of gable roof, the maximum width of the eaves is narrower than other shed styles. A rake on the gable end of the roof can be created with the construction of additional roof framing.
For slanted roof sheds, overhangs add character and facilitate proper drainage. Due to the shed’s design, a significant amount of rain runs off the rear of the shed. An overhang helps direct water away from the foundation on the shed’s low side.
For gambrel roofs, the design is a little different. Extensions are made to the gabled ends to provide coverage over the entrance. Rather than extending the roofline to create eaves as you would on a flat or gable roof, eaves on gambrel style roofs are flared due to the steep angle of the roof.
Since Lean-to sheds are attached to larger structures, they can sometimes receive runoff from the structure they are paired with. Overhangs help to direct all that rainwater away from the shed’s foundation. Overhangs also add character by eliminating the boxy utilitarian look this style of the shed can sometimes have.
Framing a Gable End Overhang
To create an overhang on the gable ends of your shed, you’ll need to construct something called a “gable ladder”.
To do this, first make sure you cut your ridge board to a length that includes the length of the shed’s rakes. Next, cut two additional sets of rafters for each gable end.
Since these rafters won’t have a wall to rest on, you will need to secure them to the previous rafter by cutting four joists, or outriggers, to fit the desired width of your overhang. Cut the outriggers out of 2x6s, making sure to account for the width of the rafters.
Then create your ladder by attaching the rafters for the rake to the ridge board. Use the outriggers to attach the roof framing to rake rafters.
Remember, rake ladders can only extend a maximum of 12” from the shed before they need additional support.
How to Build an Eave Overhang
Building an eave overhang on most shed roofs is a relatively simple task. The process involves extending the rafters beyond each wall, creating what is known as rafter tails. Rafter tails are the part of each rafter that juts beyond the wall.
Rather than go through the complicated process of calculating just how long you need to make each rafter to achieve the overhang size you want and the angle of each cut, it’s easier to install the rafters with plenty of extra lengths then cut to size.
After the rafters are installed, mark off the desired length. Use a plumb bob to snap a straight chalk line, then cut using a circular saw. If you prefer a square end to your eaves, use a quick square to mark your line.
Once you’ve cut one rafter, create a jig by holding a piece of plywood against the wall of the shed and the rafter.
Trace a line around the top and face of the rafter tail and the wall of the shed. Then cut the plywood piece on the lines using a circular saw or table saw. You now have a jig you can use to mark cut lines for the remainder of your rafters.
If you’re using trusses to build your shed, then make sure to design your truss so that the top chords extend far enough outward to create the desired overhang.
Also, be sure to raise the heel of your truss design, which will increase the distance between the top chords and bottom chord, making the roof taller. This will ensure that your overhang does not interfere with windows or doors.
How to Add an Overhang to a Shed
Maybe you’ve built your shed and overlooked the value of an overhang, or maybe you’ve inherited a shed as part of a home purchase, and it lacks one. Is there a way to add an overhang to a shed? There is, and we’ll take you through how to do it.
Adding an overhang to a shed is a relatively simple process that involves nailing rafter extensions onto the shed’s existing rafters. Begin by removing any existing fascia or trim that is covering the rafters. Once the top of the shed walls and rafter tails are exposed, take stock of what you’ve got.
Determine what the largest piece of lumber is that you can slide between the roof sheathing and the wall plate. Whatever you come up with is what you’ll need to use for the extensions.
For rafter extensions, limit your maximum length to 2 feet. Beyond that requires additional structural supports and a much more complicated process.
Once you’ve determined how long you want your overhang to be, cut rafter extensions that are three times that length. This cut should be a plumb cut to avoid having to make one after the extension is installed.
Attach the extensions to the existing rafters using framing nails. This process is usually best completed from the inside of the shed. Given the tight space involved, you may find it difficult to swing a hammer. If you can get your hands on one, I suggest using a framing nailer.
Once the extensions are installed, you can begin adding roof underlayment and trim to your new eaves. One note, you may need to reroof your entire shed once this project is complete, otherwise the new shingles you use to cover the new overhang will likely not match the shed’s existing shingles.
If you plan on adding a gable overhang, or rake, in addition to eaves, make sure you extend the fascia board beyond the last rafter to support the new rake.
Adding an overhang to the gable ends of your shed is a similar process to framing out a new one. You’ll need to build gable ladders, also called soffit ladders. Begin by measuring from your extended fascia to the peak of the shed.
Use this measurement to cut a length of 2×4, making sure that one side of the board is miter cut to match the peak of the roof. Do the same for the other side. Once cut, check to make sure the two lengths of 2x4s meet uniformly at the roof peak.
Cut two more matching pieces. Next, cut the cross pieces that will create the ladder, making sure to account for the width of the 2x4s when measuring the length of each crosspiece. For a 12” wide overhang, cut each crosspiece 9” to account for the 1.5” thickness of each of the ladder’s 2×4 “rails”.
Cross pieces, or outriggers, should be installed about every 16” for adequate support. Assemble the ladder using deck screws.
To make installation of the ladders easier, tack a short piece of 2×4 to the fascia board end and a length of 2×4 extending off the top of the shed. Rest the end of the ladder against the fascia board and clamp the other end to the roof 2×4 to hold it in place.
Tack a piece of 2×4 into the fascia on the other side, lay the other ladder in place and line up the ends.
Once both ladders are lined up, attach the ladder to the shed roof framing using 3-inch deck screws, making sure the tops of the ladders are flush with the shed rafters. This will allow for seamless roofing.
Once the ladder is installed, you’re ready to add trim and shed roofing underlayment.
Although an overhang may seem like a minor thing when perusing shed plans, don’t get caught out in the rain by skipping this feature. Roof overhangs not only offer shelter from the rain as you enter and exit your shed, but they also provide vital protection for your shed’s windows and doors as well as its foundation, helping to prolong its life.
By making some simple alterations to your shed roof plan, you can easily add an overhang that will protect and beautify your shed.