Exposed rafters and rafter tails were common elements in early farmhouses. Rafter tails were true continuous extensions of a building’s rafters and existed for reasons of efficiency and economy during construction. Simple plumb-cut rafter tails created an overhang with no extra effort or material. When notched, they allowed gutters to be placed directly within the roof structure. At the same time, they highlighted the beauty, rhythm and order inherent in the building’s structural form. Carpenters often demonstrated their creativity and skills by adding corbels as well as mitered, scalloped, or beveled details.
Today’s rafter tails are purely decorative and come in a variety of profiles.
To help us decide which profile we would use, my husband and I took a day trip to Snohomish, Washington. This antique lovers’ town treasures its early 20th century architecture and provided us with many examples to choose from. We decided on exposed rafter tails with a minimal slant profile to create a simple yet pleasing character on the roof overhangs of our home.
All I need now is a couple of rockers on my front porch!