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What is an Overhang?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2016
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An overhang is any portion of a structure that extends beyond the main support members or framing. This may include an extended lip or trim section around the edge of a table, or a section of roof that stretches out over doors or windows beyond the basic roof line. The overhang serves as a design feature while also helping to protect the underlying structure from moisture or damage.

One of the most common examples of this type of design can be found on a roof overhang. In this type of application, the roof extends horizontally past the walls of a house by a few inches or even a few feet. Some homes may feature overhangs on all sides, while others use only a few strategically-placed sections. A building overhang not only protects the home from moisture and rain, but also keeps sunlight away from the walls of the house. By blocking solar energy, an overhang can keep homes cool in the summer and reduce energy costs.

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Many kitchens feature a countertop overhang, which may include granite or marble countertops that extend past the face of the cabinets. This type of design helps to increase counter space for cooking and food preparation, and also allows the homeowner to add chairs and create a simple breakfast bar or eating area. An overhang on a countertop can feature one of three basic designs. Standard versions extend just a few inches away from the cabinets, while extended units can project out from the cabinets a full foot (30.5 cm). The longest overhangs often require support brackets to support the weight of the countertop and prevent damage.

Doors and windows may also feature overhangs in the form of awnings or small porches. These structures provide shade for the door and window to reduce thermal transfer and maintain the comfort of the home. They also protect doors and windows from damaged caused by sun exposure or frequent contact with rain or moisture. This can extend the life of a door and minimize maintenance and refinishing. Awnings or porches also keep occupants dry as they enter or exit the home during a storm.

Within the home, many tables and other furnishings also feature some form of overhanging edges. This is often done to modify the appearance of a piece of furniture, but also makes these surfaces more practical in some applications. For example, overhangs on a table allow people to sit comfortably with the chair pulled up under the table, while still keeping most of the upper body over the table's surface. This makes it easier to eat comfortably without dropping food and crumbs on the floor.

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