Home Roofing What is the Rake of a Roof? A Comprehensive Guide

What is the Rake of a Roof? A Comprehensive Guide

by Michael Blount

The rake of a roof is one of the most critical yet often overlooked components of any roofing system. Proper maintenance and understanding of the roof rake is essential to prevent common and costly problems like leaks, ice dams, and pest infestation. This comprehensive guide will provide a detailed insight into what exactly is the rake of a roof, its role and significance, maintenance tips, and an overview of tools and techniques for preserving its integrity.

Introduction to Roof Rake and Its Significance

The rake, also known as a roof edge, refers to the inclined edge formed at the first and last roofing unit along the sloping ends of the roof. It runs from the edge of the roof to the ridge. The rake is essential in any roofing system as it facilitates proper drainage, prevents leaks, and provides aesthetic uniformity to the roof slope.

Understanding what is the rake of a roof and its optimal maintenance is critical for homeowners and builders alike. Improper installation or neglect of the roof rake can lead to:

  • Leaks and water damage
  • Pest infiltration
  • Premature roof failure
  • Ice dam formation
  • Mold growth

In order to maintain the longevity and performance of the roof, special attention must be paid to preserving the integrity of the roof rake through routine care, inspection and using proper materials during installation.

Understanding the Rake of a Roof

What is the Rake of a Roof?

The rake refers to the outer sloped edge of any roof that runs from the edge to the ridge. Depending on the roofing style, the rake may be a triangular edge as seen in gable roofs, or a trapezoidal edge as observed in hip roofs.

The main components that make up the roof rake are:

  • Rake board – The board installed on the outer edge of the roof decking parallel to the slope. It provides an overhang and attaches roof materials.
  • Rake fascia – The decorative board covering the rake board on the outer slope of the roof. It enhances aesthetics.
  • Drip edge – The projecting piece installed above fascia to divert water away from the rake board and structure.
  • Flashing – Sheet metal installed over the rake board to prevent leaks at intersections and joints.

The rake serves several important functions:

  • Provides finished edge and gives an aesthetic slope to the roofline.
  • Allows water drainage from the roof surface and directs it away from walls and structures.
  • Permits ventilation at the roof edge to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Reinforces the termination point of roofing materials.
  • Anchors the edges of the roofing system and framing.

Differentiating Rake from Other Roof Elements

The rake is often confused with other roofing elements like the eave, ridge and soffit due to their edge location. However, each component serves a distinct purpose:

  • Eaves – The lower roof edges that overhang past the walls. They have overhangs, gutters and soffits.
  • Ridge – The peak where two sloping roof planes meet. The highest point on a roof.
  • Soffits – The underside covering of roof overhangs and eaves. They provide ventilation.
  • Rake – The angled outer edges that run from roof edge to ridge on gable and hip roofs.

Types of Roof Rakes

The design of the roof rake depends on the overall roof style:

  • Gable roof rake – Triangular rake formed on gable roof ends. Most common rake type.
  • Hip roof rake – Trapezoidal rake found on hip roofs with sloping ends meeting at ridge.
  • Curved rake – Found on barrel roofs and curved structures. Matches the roof curvature.
  • Cross gable rake – Additional gable rakes formed where roof planes intersect in cross gable roofs.
  • Flared rake – Formed when upper roof slope extends past lower roof edge. Seen on jerkinhead roofs.

The shape and angle of the rake is tailored to the specific roofing system to allow optimal drainage and prevent vulnerabilities at the roof edges.

Components of the Rake

The main components that comprise the roof rake work together to help the rake fulfill its purpose.

The Rake Board

The rake board refers to the outermost board running parallel to the roof slope at the gable ends. It consists of dimensional lumber, usually 1x or 2x material, cut to size to fit from the edge of the roofline to the ridge.

Purposes of the Rake Board:

  • Provides edge support for the termination of roof sheathing and shingles.
  • Reinforces the framing at the roof perimeter.
  • Offers an overhang for gutter installation.
  • Creates a nailing base for fascia attachment.
  • Anchors outer rooftop elements like drip edge flashing.

The rake board is installed flush to the top of the roof decking. The ideal wood type for rake boards are moisture-resistant lumber such as pressure-treated pine or cedar. Maintaining the rake board by checking for cracks and decay is vital to prevent leaks.

The Rake Fascia

The rake fascia refers to the outer finishing board installed vertically over the rake board. It consists of 1x dimensional lumber or engineered wood trim.

Key Functions of the Rake Fascia:

  • Provides an aesthetic finish to the outer roof edge.
  • Protects the rake board from weathering.
  • Conceals the look of the roofing components.
  • Offers a mounting surface for gutter and drip edge installation.

The rake fascia matches the dimensions and style of the other roof fascias. Proper sealing and painting of the fascia must be done to prevent moisture damage. Regular inspection of cracks and lifting is needed.

Rake of a Roof in Roofing Systems

The design of the roof rake varies across different roofing systems due to their distinct shapes and slopes.

Gable Roofs

Gable roofs contain triangular gable-end rakes at both sloping ends of the roof. The rake angles downward from the roof edge to the ridge.

  • Rake boards are cut at an angle to fit the roof pitch.
  • Valley flashing is used at roof intersections.
  • Cross-gable roofs have rakes on all gable ends.
  • Eave fascia meets the rake fascia at the edge.

Hip Roofs

Hip roofs contain trapezoidal-shaped hip rakes at the sloping ends. The lower edge aligns with the eave while the angled sides meet at the ridge.

  • Rake boards are commonly made by layering two boards.
  • Hip rafters require angled bird’s mouth cuts.
  • Extended rake boards are needed for overhangs.
  • Valley flashings are critical at hip joint.

Gambrel Roofs

Gambrel roofs feature a flared rake design because of the double-sloped shape. The lower roof slope extends past the upper one.

  • Flared rakes require additional framing and decking support.
  • Fascias must be layered and built-out for overhang.
  • Seamless transition from fascia to rake trim is needed.

The shape and components of the roof rake depend on the roofing system for optimal structural support, weather-proofing and drainage capacity at the roof edges.

Maintenance and Inspection of the Rake

Diligent maintenance and inspection of the roof rake is essential to preserve roof integrity and prevent cost-intensive damages from leaks, pests, ice dams and more.

Importance of Rake Maintenance

Neglecting roof rake maintenance can lead to the following problems:

  • Rotting and leaks – Water seepage through damaged rake boards or flashing can cause rotting and structural weakness. Leaks near the rake will lead to interior damage.
  • Pest infiltration – Cracks, mold growth and decaying wood attract termites, carpenter ants and other pests. This can spread to other roof structures.
  • Ice damming – Build up of snow at the roof edge due to improper insulation and ventilation causes ice dams that can penetrate under shingles.
  • Fascia damage – Detached or cracked fascia occurs when the underlying rake board is compromised and unable to provide support.
  • Premature aging – Exposure to elements accelerates deterioration of the rake components from moisture, UV radiation and temperature extremes if not properly maintained.

Rake Inspection Tips

  • Inspect rake boards and fascias for signs of lifting, cracking, rot and decay at least twice a year.
  • Check for any leaks, dark spots or water trails along the roof edge and rake junctions.
  • Examine roofing shingles and flashing near the rake for damage or detachment.
  • Ensure drip edge is secure and overlapping rake board by at least 2 inches.
  • Look for pest tunnels, exits or mold growth which signal intrusion.
  • Test for loose nails, missing fasteners, warped boards or detachment.
  • Inspect the visible underside of the rake overhang for signs of water damage or cracks.

Maintaining the Roof Rake

  • Clear any snow buildup at rake edges frequently during winter to prevent ice dams. Use rakes or roof heating cables.
  • Remove debris like leaves and pine needles from the rake overhangs to prevent clogs.
  • Re-nail any loose rake boards, fascias or drip edge flashing using exterior grade nails. Replace damaged components.
  • Seal any cracks or exposed fastener holes with caulk designed for roofing.
  • Paint the rake fascia regularly to protect from moisture damage. Use specially formulated roof paint.
  • Trim overhanging tree branches to prevent debris accumulation and pest access.

Diligent rake maintenance helps safeguard roof integrity and your home’s structure against leaks, pests, ice dams and unnecessary repairs.

Roof Rake Tools and Techniques

Maintaining the roof rake doesn’t require special tools. Some essentials include:

Tools for Rake Maintenance

  • Ladder – A sturdy, extendable ladder to safely access the roof edges. Have someone support it.
  • Roof rake – Shingle rake with extendable handle to remove debris and snow from the rake.
  • Broom – To sweep off any accumulated dirt or leaves on the rake.
  • Hammer – Standard claw hammer to re-secure any loose rake components.
  • Sealant gun – For professional caulk or roofing cement application into cracks and gaps.
  • Utility knife – For safely trimming away damaged or lifted shingles at the rake edge.
  • Safety gear – Hard hat, goggles, gloves and harness for protection.

Handy Rake Maintenance Tips

  • Always exercise caution when working on ladders or rooftops. Have someone assist and watch for safety.
  • Sweep debris towards the outer edge to avoid accumulation in gutters.
  • Apply caulk or cement on dry days without rain to allow proper curing.
  • Replace existing nails or fasteners with longer, exterior grade types for better hold.
  • Start snow removal early before heavy buildup. Make frequent passes to redirect snow off the roof.
  • Work in sections when checking for damage to thoroughly inspect each area.
  • Consult a professional roofer for extensive repairs like fascia replacement or flashing installation.

With the proper tools and safety practices, the rake can be effectively maintained by homeowners annually to preserve roof function.


In summary, the rake, or roof edge, is the sloped outer component that runs along the gable ends of the roof. It is critical for proper drainage, preventing leaks and providing a finished look. The rake consists of the rake board, fascia, drip edge and flashing. It must be compatible with the specific roof structure.

Routine maintenance like clearing debris, checking for damage and resealing joints is essential to prevent issues like ice dams, rotting and pest infestation. Safety precautions are mandatory when working on the roof. With periodic care and inspection, the rake can continue protecting roof integrity. Understanding what is the rake of a roof and its optimal maintenance is key for every homeowner.

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