How To Frame A Gable Roof

There are many styles of homes that are built with gable
roofs. It is the simplest roof of all to frame. It is also
the most common roof built for that reason alone.

All the rafters cut for a gable roof are all cut to the same
length. The birdsmouth, which is the cutout that sits on the
top plate, is located in the same place on all rafters. The
overhang, if there is one, is also the same.

The ridge board, which is usually a 2x, runs the full length
of the house. This can be cut ahead of time and have the
rafter layout marked on it. The rafter layout usually
matches the wall stud layout. This transfers the roof load
down to the foundation.

Before any framing begins, some of the plywood that will be
used for roof sheathing is laid across the ceiling joists
the whole length of the building. This gives the carpentry
crew something to comfortably stand and walk on during the
construction of the roof. It's also a good idea to pass all
the roof plywood up to the ceiling joists. This makes
passing it up to the roof much easier.

Next, pass the ridge board(s) up and lay them on the plywood
walkway, making sure the layout is going the right way and
matches the wall layout. Now pass the rafters up. Lay them
with the plumb cuts on the plywood and the tails on the top
plate. If the house is a ranch, the rafers can be leaned
against the wall between ceiling joists to keep them from
sliding of the wall. Send up a couple of 2x4's for bracing
and you are ready to frame.

Before the ridge board is even raised, nail two rafters to
one side, nailing on the first one and the last one on the
layout. The ridge can now be raised. Pull the ridge so the
birdsmouths are tight to the wall and raise it high enough
so the level cuts of the birdsmouths are flat on top of the
wall. Once the rafters are in place tack them to the wall.
Now nail two rafters on the other side of the building to
the top plate. These will also be the first and last rafters
on the lay out and will mirror the ones you put up on the
other side of the building. Raise or lower the ridge so the
top of the plumb cuts on the rafters meet the top edge of
the ridge. If the rafters where cut correctly, the plumb
cuts should fit snugly against the ridge with little or no

With the ridge in place, install a stud in the gable end
from the ridge down to the top plate, using a level to plumb
it up. Take one of the 2x4 braces and nail it near the top
of the stud. Nail a block to the plywood walkway being sure
to catch a couple ceiling joists. Now put the level on the 1
1/2" side of the stud and plumb it that way. When the stud
is plumb, nail the 2x brace to the block. This will square
up and position the roof where it needs to be. The rest of
the rafters can now be installed, alternating from one side
to the other, pulling the rafters tight to the wall and
bringing the plumb cut to the top of the ridge. By
alternating from one side to the other the ridge will stay
straight. If one side is installed all at once, the weight
will push on the ridge creating a bow. This will make it
tough to straighten when the other side is put on.

After the roof is framed, collar ties, fascia boards, and
overhangs are put on. With those items in place, the plywood
can be put on. Frame in the gable ends and your ready for

Mike Merisko (c) 2006

More roof framing articles.

The Full Length Roof Framer: The Book

Cutting Rafters Easily and Efficiently

How To Frame A Hip Roof

How To Cut Common Rafters

How To Frame A Gable Overhang




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