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I am trying to figure out what this small strip of wood at the top of my fascia boards is called. Also, what type of wood would be good to use to replace it? Cedar? enter image description here

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By location, the strip is called drip edge, but by profile, it is a 1X2. It should actually measure 3/4" by 1 1/2"

Cedar is a good choice to use, it is available already primed. If you choose to replace it, any cuts or exposed bare wood, no matter the location should be primed. It helps the longevity of the material.

This was not part of your question, but it is an observation of your overhang of the roofing material. It looks like the projection of the roofing past the 1X2 is marginal, in other words, it looks like it is not far enough out to protect the drip edge. I usually set my shingles at least 3/4" to 1" past the drip edge. This keeps the rain from getting the drip edge wet continually. I think that is what is making the material decay faster than usual. Fortunately it is not a structural piece, no more than supporting the lower edge of the shingles.

Rake mold

My first thought is, the roof projection without the drip edge will work fine, just touch up the fascia and be done. But if the drip edge is an aesthetic piece, as in covering up the exposed edge of the roof plywood, then perhaps a rake mold can work in its place. It is available in PVC plastic and will not rot, but it is very prone to extreme expansion and contraction, much more so than wood when exposed to the weather extremes.

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    If your shingles are still pliable enough to lift up, you can also replace this with an aluminum version. The advantage is that it will allow you to hang gutters flat against the fascia if you wanted. Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 13:03
  • That would be the way to go, but without knowing the age of the roof, it could damage the very important bottom edge. If the roof is only 5 years old it would work very well, if it is over 10 years old, the edge may start taking on damage from the install.
    – Jack
    Commented Mar 22, 2019 at 13:55
  • Thank you so much. Knowing that this is a functioning as a drip edge helps so much. I had a gutter quote done yesterday and they told me similar that I would need to put in the metal flashing, which I take to be an aluminum drip edge. Conveniently, we have a storm right now and visually looking at this section where I removed the wooden drip edge, things are dripping off without issue just like Jack suggests. The roof is at least 10 years old. What exactly is the bottom edge I would need to worry about damaging? Does this just mean the combination of shingle/tar paper at the edge of the roof? Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 16:31
  • The damage to the shingles, by lifting them up far enough to attach a metal drip edge the way it should be attached. The metal drip edge is attached before the shingles are laid, since the roof is already laid and not needing replacement, the shingles would need to be lifted up at the bottom edge to nail the drip edge on. As shingles age, they start getting brittle. After about 10 years, the possibility of cracking the shingle become much more likely. An experienced roofer, or perhaps a gutter guy, if he has been doing it a while, especially retrofitting drip edge, may be able to do it.
    – Jack
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 23:28
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Having that strip there negates the function of the drip edge.

Surface tension will cause water to curl under the edge, the reason the edge is so far proud of the fascia board is the allow the water to drip off before it hits the fascia board and cause long term damage.

By placing that strip there you are insuring that the water does not drip free but does contact the wood.

Watch this to see a great explanation. This old house video

Install a new metal drip edge like Tom demonstrates if you want to prolong the life of your fascia and possibly other wood on the house.

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  • +1 for surface tension. I live where this is very important to control. Btw, is that an eave? How do you attach a gutter and eave metal to that edge?
    – Lee Sam
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 3:45
  • Perfect video, thank you. I believe that strip really is just decorative. Getting a little rain right now and the section where I removed the wood is dripping correctly and dry, but the piece that still has the wood has little streaks of water on the fascia where the water was pulled back by surface tension. Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 16:37
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By removing that drip edge that will also set your gutter for the back it will lean it straighter and the water will be able to drip in the center of the gutter instead of the edge so in all reality yes it would be better To remove it and have your gutter put against your facial without the drip edge being therefore the water can run into the middle of your gutter

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  • While none of this is wrong, A) it was already covered in other answers, and B) doesn't really answer the question of "what is this". Please take the tour and read up on how to write a good answer to see what we expect here.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 14:00

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