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Plumb- vs. Square-cut Rafter Tails

Wunderbar | Posted in Expert Exchange Q&A on

Im building out my 3′ roof overhang with exposed rafters and curious on opinions of .

Plumb is easier for the gutters but i like the look better of square on exposed rafters. Do square cut ends resist rot better as they probably see less water?


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  1. plumb_bob | | #1

    Depending on the detailing of your fascia and gutters, neither type should be prone to water exposure or rot. Putting gutters on a square cut could be a pain.
    I like the plumb cut with a second level cut at the bottom so the tail forms a 90 degree, but this is just a personal preference.
    You will be adding soffits to the underside of the rafters?

  2. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #2

    I usually prefer the look of square tails or fascia but it depends on the project. You can hang a half-round gutter off a square fascia but they handle less water for a given size than a K-style gutter.

    Either way they are vulnerable to rot if you get enough wind-blown rain. I like to protect exposed (or applied) rafter tails with a small fascia. From the ground it looks about the same as having no fascia.

  3. walta100 | | #3

    You don’t need no stinking gutter.


    1. Expert Member
      MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #4

      My neighbour harvests 60,ooo gallons of rainwater from their roof each year.

      1. Expert Member
        Michael Maines | | #6

        Here in the land of ice and snow, and lots of trees, gutters are often more of a problem than a solution. Every year I reset my mother-in-laws' gutters after snow shears them off. It gets old.

        1. Expert Member
          MALCOLM TAYLOR | | #7


          You must move!

        2. Expert Member
          BILL WICHERS | | #8

          Easy solution: Form some gutters from 1/8" stainless steel sheet, bolt them to the rafter tails with lag screws. No more sheared off gutters :-) No more squished gutters when placing an extension ladder, either...

          I've never had gutters shear off from snow load before. You must have some serios snowfalls in your area!


          1. plumb_bob | | #9

            Sounds like a combination of gutters and metal roof.
            My criteria for not having gutters would be deep roof overhang (3' min) and all entrances under a gable, not the pitch of the roof. And landscaping that can handle the water line from the roof.

          2. Expert Member
            Michael Maines | | #10

            I think we get more ice in Maine than most places. Add deep, wet snow and a steep metal roof and sliding snow is like an avalanche. If the gutters are located below the plane of the roof, that helps, but it's not always possible. I have spec'd heavy-gauge stainless or galvanized steel but owners and builders prefer seamless gutters; piecing gutters together always results in leaks, eventually. I have done heavy-gauge copper cutters that are soldered together. $$$. I've also done wood gutters, which are ideal in many ways, except they require annual maintenance which nobody will do.

  4. plumb_bob | | #5

    I was just in Prince Rupert, where they get about 9' of rain a year, much of it with wind. Gutters are a good idea in this location.

  5. davidsmartin | | #11

    At our house in Maine we have one gutter, over the door so we don't get drenched on rainy days. Every fall we remove it for the winter, reinstalling in the spring. It is a low roof and just snaps in, making it a three minute chore.

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