SHINGLED EAVE RETURN
Here’s a typical shingled eave return from my neighborhood:
A couple things to notice about it: It’s got shingles on top, and the fascia has all been wrapped with sheets of brown aluminum. Also, notice that the pitch of this little chunk of roof is much more steep than the snobbish article I linked to above recommends. One of the key issues with this part of the house, is how the rake fascia meets the eave return faschia. Notice how there is a layer of shingles stuck between the eave return fascia and the rake fascia. It’s awkard trying to figure out how to make this joint between the rake soffit, rake fascia, and the shingled eave return work well.
Here’s another shingled eave return that doesn’t look nearly as nice:
Notice that they haven’t really figured out a good way to make that joint work, either. I imagine any time you want to re-shingle, you’ve got to somehow shimmy some shingles up into that little gap. Awkward. Unsatisfying.
PLYWOOD EAVE RETURN
A lot of houses in the neighborhood have eliminated this problem of shingling the eave returns by just replacing them with plywood. Here’s a few examples:
This works ok, and I find it kind of tempting as a solution to the awkward shingling problem. But as the photos show, it can also look pretty bad once the squirrels chew through the plywood, and I don’t know how much I trust that plywood to handle rain very well.
ALUMINUM EAVE RETURN
So another option is to wrap it in aluminum:
This is another good option that solves the shingling, squirrel, and rain problem, but I’m just generally not a big fan of wrapping things in aluminum. No reason in particular, I’m just kind of snobby that way.
In new construction, you see a lot of box eaves, also called porkchops:
These are simple to construct and they eliminate the issue of how the rake fascia meets the return faschia. There simply is no return faschia, so it’s no big deal. No shingles or plywood. From a drainage standpoint, this is a much more simple design that eliminates a lot of opportunities for leaks. Architectural purists turn their noses up at these features, though. They are kind of ugly, and eave returns add a lot of charm to a home. This box eave adds a little bit of curvature to the design to spruce things up a little bit:
FULL EAVE RETURN
A related feature is the full eave return, a single eave that stretches across the entire gable end of the home:
NO EAVE RETURN
I’m sort of inclined to believe that eave returnss are more of a liability than anything else. They’re attractive, but useless from a functional standpoint. I should note that some homes don’t have any return eaves:
Some don’t even have fascia or soffits:
FLARED EAVES W/ SHINGLED EAVE RETURN
And now, with that little bit of background, it’s time to look at my own sorry eave returns:
Obviously, they need some work. They clearly need some paint, and a lot of the fascia and trim work will just need to be replaced. Key to this design is that the slope of the roof flattens out towards the edges. This is a design feature called flared eaves
, and we have the Dutch to thank for this splendid, ice-dam prone
Notice how previous homeowners have had a difficult time finding some crown moulding that will bend around that curve or come to a complete point at the end of that curve. That will be challenge #1 for me this summer. Also notice how I’ve smartly stapled some wire mesh up to keep squirrels out of those gaps where the rake faschia meets the return eave. This is because previous owners have also not been able to figure out a great way to fit a piece of faschia into that acute angle. That will be challenge #2 for me this summer.
I’ve toyed with a lot of ideas of how to approach these eave returns…. should I remove them and replace them with a simple box return? Should I use plywood instead of shingles? Should I remove the crown moulding entirely and just have a simple flat fascia (notice that the crown moulding has already been removed in some places to accommodate the rain gutter)? Should I liberally squirt massive amounts of foam insulation into that gap?
Answers to these questions and more to follow in the upcoming months…. Stay tuned!