When you’re planning a roofing project, it helps to know about every feature and fixture that goes into the process. An important component of your roofing system is a barge rafter.

A barge rafter is what you see extending past the house’s wall, and its roof, and is typically found on the overhang of a gable. 

What is a barge rafter?

Basically, barge rafters are structures that extend beyond the end of a building – providing an overhang at the gable ends. Interestingly, the word barge rafter is a derivative of the French word ‘verge’, meaning ‘edge’.

Rafters – whether molded or flat – are usually put side by side at the top edge to provide a foundation for the roof deck and roof covering.  

How do you make a barge rafter?

barge rafter in roof

Since a barge rafter is joined at a rain gutter or a fascia board, it extends along the eave. The overhanging feature is fastened to the ends of the rafter tails. Keep in mind that it’s important to do a decent job at installing or replacing barge rafters because any shoddy work might cause the rafters to rust and weather. This will result in expensive repairs later on.

Read more: What is fascia on a house?

Here are some steps to build a barge rafter for your roof:

  • Make a pair of 2x4s, with the pitch angle on one end and square on the other, and cut them to the same length.
  • Begin from the point of the pitch angle.
  • Cut the blocks to the length you want – allowing for the 3″ of the side boards.
  • On the center marks, nail the blocks to the long pair.
  • At both the bottom and top ends, place a block. Place the top end block so that it does not protrude past the angle cut on the long pair’s top end.
  • Install the barge on each side of the ridge at the top of the roof. Match the barge’s peak to the ridge board’s center point.
  • Nail the rafter to the interior board of the barge. Nails should be spaced every 12 inches or so.
  • From the bottom end of each barge to the rafter tail, measure the remaining length needed.
  • Build and install the bottom “b” rafters to size. To match the rafters, cut the bottom end of the last section with the pitch angle.

Your barge rafter is ready!

What supports a barge rafter?

For houses with flat ceilings, the bottoms of opposing rafters should be secured together with ceiling joists, which form rafter ties. In such cases, the rafter ties are often put perpendicular to the ceiling joists.

But for sloped roofs, common rafters extend from the roof’s apex to the top of the building’s outer walls. The rafters are affixed to a ridge board at the peak, and to the horizontal top plate of the wall framing.


roof barge rafter

In roofing systems, you can use different types of rafters – depending on the type of roof you have. For example, it could be common rafters, hip rafters, valley rafters, jack rafters, or barge rafters.

Among them, a barge rafter is often the simplest way to get the eave overhang on a gable end. However, if the overhang is more than 16 inches, you’ll require sleeper braces. Rafters are commonly built of wood or steel. Furthermore, you can choose to hide them within the roof structure or expose them.

Last words

A barge rafter is a key component of a roof design – placed on the overhang of a gable. There’s a reason the structural component is used as part of a roof; it gives strength and protection to the projecting gable, conceals the end of the gutter, and is a decorative element of your roof. 

Looking for a licensed roofing contractor? Let Kukun help you find the best professionals in your neighborhood.

What exactly is a barge rafter, in construction? was last modified: June 28th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
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