How to Replace Rotted Rafter Tails

If you have a rotten roof-rafter tail, it should be replaced right away. Leaking is commonly a sign of damage. Leaving a roof rafter without repair can cause extensive damage. A DIY person should be able to replace the rafter, but it helps to have some carpentry experience. Here are tips to replace rotted roof-rafter tails.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • portable scaffold or extension ladder
  • tape measure
  • garbage bin
  • waterproof wood filler
  • two-inch deck screws
  • 16D  nails
  • hammer and nail bar
  • pry bar
  • cordless drill with screw tip
  • reciprocating saw and metal cutting blade
  • circular saw
  • paint supplies (optional)
  • replacement roofing material (optional)
  • two-by-four boards

Set the scaffold on flat ground and adjust it as you move along. If the roof is low, an extension ladder can be used. Get someone to hold it for you.

Place a garbage bin close by to discard materials. Remove rain gutters by detaching the metal strap that holds them to the rafters; set the gutters and strap aside.

Remove Rotted Tails

Use the pry bar to remove rotted rafter tails. Remove nails with the claw end of the hammer or nail bar. You can cut tails with a saw, but take care not to damage other supporting wood.

If you notice damage several inches beyond the tails, remove the shingles and underlayment. Pull nails with the hammer and nail bar. If damage is just on the rafter tails, leave the roofing intact. Use a metal cutting blade and reciprocating saw to cut metal roofing edges.

Install New Rafter Tails

Measure the length of the longest rotted section of the rafter tail with the most damage, and multiply this figure by two. Mark the measurements on the plywood and cut the replacement tail. Use this rafter tail as a guide to cut additional tails.

Set the lower end of the new rafter tail on the bottom side of the sheathing between the cut rafter end and fascia. Attach a deck screw with the drill so it goes over the sheathing and through the upper edge of the rafter tail. Space screws four inches.

Connect the upper end to a cut end of the rafter. Nail the fascia to the end of the rafter tail, using three nails spaced evenly.

Seal the seam between the cut end of the rafter and rafter tail with wood filler, and let the filler dry. Sand and paint the tails, if desired,

Replace roofing materials. If you don't trust your skill, or if the roof is seriously damaged, contact a roofer. Talk to a company such as Berwald  Roofing Inc for more information.