Painting Eaves

Painting eaves with a brush and roller can be a very time consuming task. Spray painting eaves can save hours of labor but there are some things you need to be aware of.


Open eaves are a style of overhang common to many homes. This type of overhang consists of exposed rafter tails that extend beyond the exterior wall, covered by roof sheathing also referred to as decking. A fascia board is typically applied to the rafter tail ends. Sometimes rain gutters are applied directly to the rafter tail ends instead of fascia boards. Blocking may also exist between the rafter tails at the top of the wall. These blocks are often referred to as freeze blocks.

The box like configuration of open eaves makes it almost impossible to complete the painting using only a roller. The inside corners typically require cutting-in with a paint brush. Switching back and forth between a roller and a paint brush can be awkward. Working directly above your head compounds the difficulty of the task.


Spray Painting Eaves

We almost always, with very few exceptions spray paint open eaves. Painting eaves with an airless sprayer equipped with the proper spray tip can easily complete the task 4 to 8 times faster than painting with a brush and roller. Because open eaves are not large flat areas, controlling the paint output is a big advantage. It is important to choose an airless spray tip that will limit the paint output so as to avoid paint build up. We often use a 515 reversible spray tip. A 413 or 513 spray tip will also work well but may require a small amount thinning to reduce the viscosity of the paint. A spray tip larger than a 015 may result in excess paint, especially in corners formed by the rafter tails. Despite the spray tip, always check to see that the spray pattern is even before proceeding to paint.

Spray painting does require some masking to prevent damage from overspray. On the other hand, much of the same masking should also be completed when painting with a brush and a roller. For instance, all windows below the overhangs should be covered to protect them from paint fallout regardless of the method of paint application. Painter’s plastic and masking tape work well for covering windows and doors.

The roof directly above the overhangs may be subject to paint overspray. Limiting the spraying to the underside of the eaves while brushing and/or rolling the gutters and front side of the fascia boards will greatly reduce the likelihood of paint overspray from landing on the roof. Using a spray shield will further reduce the chances of overspray fallout on the roof. A piece of cardboard 1 ft. by 3 ft. works well as a shield. Hold it on the outside of the fascia board while spraying the underside of the eaves.

When the overhangs and exterior walls are to be painted the same color, spray painting the eaves also serves to cut-in the top of the walls. If the walls are to be painted a different color than the overhangs, they can be cut-in after the eaves have dried. In the case that the exterior walls do not paint, place a layer of masking film with the hand masker at the transition between the eaves and the walls. To protect masonry walls consisting of materials such as brick, stone, or integral color stucco, place a layer of the red vinyl duct tape at the line between the eaves and exterior walls before applying the masking film.

Final Thoughts

Try to avoid spray painting in windy conditions so as to avoid unnecessary paint overspray. Regardless of the wind conditions, it is always a good idea to mask the windows and doors on the entire wall below the section of eaves to be painted. Painting eaves on most homes can be accomplished in just a few hours with an airless sprayer. The cost of renting a sprayer is well justified by the many hours of labor saved. With rental units, be sure to check the spray tip size. 

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Professional Painting, Inc. is a full service painting company serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1988.