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Is this Awning/Brow Roof Worth the Trouble?

jamesboris | Posted in Plans Review on

I believe in generous roof overhangs and have often gone to a lot of trouble to build them… but now I have an architectural situation giving me fits.

The wall in question is 13.5’ H x 27’ W. It’s below the high eave of a monoslope roof (i.e. roof above it is pitched up). It faces ~340-deg (N by NW). Zone 2A, 29-deg latitude. See attached sketch. Openings:

-2 outswing, solid fiberglass doors (0 SHGC). Sitting in stainless sill pans, which are atop Zip Stretch.
-2 fiberglass double-hungs (~2′ W x 4′ H glazing, 0.21 SHGC).
The openings will have 4” D “mini awnings” in the form of 2 ¾” D casings + ½” rainscreen + ½” metal cap flashing.
… + Cedar siding/trim, treated with

Because there’s a row of clerestory windows ~2’ below the roof, there’s only a 13”gap between the clerestories’ sill-trim and the doors’ head-trim. Squeezing 2 awnings (even low-slope ones) in that gap doesn’t look great, no matter how I draw it (unless I cover up the top ~6″ of the glazing, which is out of the question).

So my question is: Of course awnings always help… but do they seem worth the aesthetic and financial costs here?

SusDesign accurately shows lots of sun late summer afternoon… but (a) it comes from a low angle, and (b) *there’ll be another building 10’ in front of this wall.* I think my door design is at least above-average rain-resistant, and the awnings won’t protect much siding. Not trying to cheap out here, just trying to strike the right balance and brainstorm. Thanks! 

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  1. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #1

    Do you have an overhang at the top of the roof?

    If you choose a high-quality door and install it carefully, there is a good chance you will be fine. Many existing houses have doors without overhangs. But if the house is not yet built, it would be better to change the design to allow for overhangs at the doors.

    1. jamesboris | | #3

      The overhang at the top is 28" (horizontal projection), but it's projecting diagonally up and away at a 3:12 slope (this is the "high eave" of the monoslope). This guest house is already framed, sheathed, WRB'd... so I can still add an awning, but can't change the openings. The door is a prehung Therma Tru in an Endura Framesaver, flashed with Tyvek VF (great product for flangeless doors/windows), RO is flashed w/Zip and the stainless pan.

      1. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #5

        Do you live in a place with a lot of wind-blown rain? ThermaTru's warranty requires "adequate overhangs" but they aren't specific about what that means: Not that you have to have a warrantied installation, but it's an indication of reasonably good installation practices.

        A modern-looking detail is a low-slope ("flat") rooflet rather than a sloped awning.

        1. jamesboris | | #6

          I'm in Zone 2A, near Austin, we definitely get storms... but there's another building 10' in front of these doors (I attached a little napkin sketch to the original post), which I would think would shield it somewhat. By 'rooflet', do you mean something like this?

          1. Expert Member
            Michael Maines | | #8

            It's hard to say; sometimes buildings that are close like that create a wind tunnel that makes things worse. It depends where your prevailing winds are during storms, which probably change throughout the year. In a strong wind the overhang won't matter anyway.

            I have found outswing doors to be more vulnerable to water infiltration, not less. If the top projects a bit it catches water, if the wind blows while it's raining it can keep the integral weep holes from working, and there is no way to add the layer of protection a storm door offers.

            Yes, "rooflet" is just an informal word to describe a small roof. There are many more specific terms for different configurations.

  2. walta100 | | #2

    I found it impossible to keep the rain from splashing back onto my doors and leaking in with a 12 inch overhangs before I added a storm doors.

    The Masonite brand doors seem be fine quality otherwise.

    Read the warranties but the ones I have read all require 36 inches of overhang.


    1. jamesboris | | #4

      I assume you had inswing doors though, right? Do you think this'd be a problem on an outswing? Mine is a Therma Tru (w/Endura FrameSaver jambs), which is in the same league as Masonite, but there's nowhere for water to sit... the building will also be 3/4" away from the deck.

  3. Expert Member
    AKOS TOTH | | #7

    Occasionaly I see doors with no overhangs on new builds around me. Inevitabely they end up with some canpopy after a couple of years. This tends to look like @$$ as it is not part of the design and looks out of place. I would design in the rooflet Michael is proposing (doesn't have to be as beefy and large as the link) and have it match the house.

    If you don't want a roof, I have used 2x12s as well before to box out doors before. This gets nailed to the rough opening with a metal flashing above the direct water away as a mini roof.

    1. jamesboris | | #10

      Thanks Akos, I've enjoyed reading your posts here over the years! 2x12 box is an interesting idea, I think I might use that on a really little shed build I've got coming up for someone where they told me to do whatever I want haha. Do you think it's just as important to protect lower level windows with awnings? My drawing in the original post shows what I'm working with. I've also got a big window on one of the half-gable walls...

      1. Expert Member
        AKOS TOTH | | #11

        Properly detailed windows shouldn't need any protection. The only reason to include awnings for the lower windows is if you need it for shading or to match the rest of the house.

        I would try it in a CAD program first and see what looks the best. Sketchup is great for these types of quick and rough options.

        1. jamesboris | | #12

          Thanks Akos. What are the main reasons you feel that people inevitably end up adding awnings to doors (or should)? Do you think that my having a ~3" D cap flashing (going back to the sheathing) and a stainless sill pan, on an outswing door, obviate those reasons at all?

          (For anyone reading this -- again, not trying to be cheap, trying to understand the cost/benefit side... I've built many structures where it was not my pay grade to make these decisions, so I'm trying to learn now)

          1. Expert Member
            AKOS TOTH | | #13

            The need for a roof depends a lot on how much the door will be used and what it is made of. Anything wood won't survive without overhangs.

            People prefer to be out of the rain while trying to open doors so any high traffic door should have a roof. This also limits the amount of snow that will build up by the door that can be carried into the house.

            A door that is rarely used such as a side entrance to a basement can get away with no roof.

  4. jamesboris | | #9

    Thanks so much for all the advice everyone. I'm leaning toward adding the awnings during construction. Followup question: Do you think I need them for both the doors and the windows, or just the doors?

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