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The Roof Beam


"Roof beams" is a term used to describe the relatively large wood members (load-bearing beams) that support a roof structure. Some of the common generic roof beam synonyms can include: exterior beam, exposed beam, overhanging beam or even just beam. Many homeowners have noticed the term roof beam gradually worming its way into their vocabulary as well. Their homes are typically the ones that have exposed roof beams projecting out to, or beyond, the roof edge framing. Roof beams can also be non-load-bearing (ornamental). These decorative beams, though not necessarily easily distinguishable from load-bearing ones, do not support roof structures at all and are often, in fact, just suspended from them.


More often than not, roof beams are exposed to the weather. The degree of exposure varies with the building design and construction details. Even beams that are cut flush with the roof edge are not immune to the effects of wind driven rain and temperature extremes. Roof beams, often the only part of a structure not protected by the roof itself, are particularly vulnerable to weather related deterioration. The rate of decay, which is affected primarily by moisture, temperature, and a variety of wood rot fungi, will vary between regions. Here's an isometric view of typical roof beams. For more, read Anatomy Of A Roof Beam.

isometric drawing of roof beams showing overhangs, projections, and interior spans

Below you will find examples of load-bearing roof beams. Click the top photo to expand and read the explanation. (On some iPads, you'll need to use a slow double tap.) Use the arrows within the expansion to read flip-book style. (On mobile devices, tap and swipe left.)

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