Many elements make up the exterior of your home, and while you probably give lots of attention to the roof and walls, you may have never heard of the soffit and fascia. Despite their relative obscurity, however, these two components are both vital to the structural integrity and livability of your home. In this article, we’re going to discuss what the soffit and fascia are and why they are just as deserving of your attention.
What Is A Soffit?
The soffit refers to the material used to cover and protect the underside of your roof’s overhang. It can be made of wood, fiber cement or a variety of other finishing materials. The soffit serves several purposes:
Soffits may be vented or perforated to allow for better air circulation through your attic. Ventilating your attic will help prevent the following serious issues:
- Superheating: If your attic gets too hot, it can cause your shingles to break down prematurely and ice dams to form in the wintertime, which can lead to leaks.
- High energy bills: The hot air in attics can lead to overheating in other areas of the house as well, meaning more expensive energy bills.
- Excessive moisture: In the winter, keeping your attic properly ventilated and cool will help prevent condensation from forming, which can cause wood rot, mold, mildew and other similar problems.
For the most effective ventilation, you must achieve a balance between the intake located at the eaves and the exhaust located at the roof’s peak. Most ridge vents today can exhaust a large amount of air, so it’s critical to install soffits that can match that flow.
Soffits also give your exterior a finished appearance because they cover up the rafters attached to the underside of your roof. Soffits are available in a wide range of materials, colors and styles. It’s common practice to have your soffit match the rest of your home’s exterior to give it a polished, cohesive look.
So, if you’re planning to install, say, fiber cement siding with a smooth finish on the rest of your house, you should think about installing a fiber cement soffit as well. Although you can choose any color for your soffits, the most popular options are white or a color that matches the trim of the house.
Soffits also serve the practical purpose of protecting your roof’s underside and your roof deck. Although soffits can come in any material and can be finished or painted to add an extra layer of protection, your roof deck cannot. Soffits help to keep moisture and insects from damaging this important area, preventing mold, wood rot and other issues that can cause your roof to fail.
The Best Soffit for Your Home
To determine the most appropriate soffit material for your home, you should familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of each. Here are the most popular materials used today:
Aluminum stands out for its cost-effectiveness, ease of installation and low weight. Some other pros of the material include:
- Malleable: Aluminum can be easily manipulated and fitted into a variety of spaces.
- Durable: Aluminum won’t chip, crack or rot.
- Non-combustible: You won’t have to worry about this material ever catching fire.
- Easy to clean: Aluminum doesn’t attract dirt and is simple to keep clean.
- Water-resistant: This makes it an ideal choice for humid and rainy regions.
Some cons of aluminum are:
- Price: Aluminum tends to be more costly than vinyl. If you need to cover a large area, the costs will quickly add up.
- Susceptible to dents: Although durable in many respects, aluminum is known to dent if sufficient force is applied.
- Less effective insulator: Aluminum does not insulate as effectively as vinyl.
Like aluminum, vinyl is also cost-effective, low weight and easy to install. Some other reasons to consider vinyl soffits are:
- Affordable: Vinyl is generally to most affordable material for soffits.
- Insulating: Vinyl is considered to be the best material when it comes to insulating your house.
- Customizable: Vinyl is often available in many grains and textures, so it will be easy to achieve the appearance you want with vinyl.
- Durable: Vinyl will never rot and is quite resistant to chipping and cracking.
- Water-resistant: Vinyl is another material you should consider if you reside in a region with high moisture levels.
- Easy to clean: Vinyl requires relatively little time and effort to clean.
Cons of vinyl include:
- Susceptible to heat: Heat can cause vinyl to discolor more rapidly over time.
- Susceptible to sun damage: If exposed regularly to sunlight, vinyl can become brittle.
- Susceptible to mold: Mold can develop on vinyl in damper climates.
- Less malleable: Vinyl is less malleable than aluminum. It’s harder to bend, cut and install into spaces of varying size and shape.
- Potentially less attractive: Some people find vinyl to look cheaper than other soffit materials.
Wood is material that many people cherish for its warm, natural and timeless appearance. However, wood is also pricey and will eventually rot. If you opt for wood soffits, keep in mind that they will need to be eventually replaced, which will cost time and money. You’ll also have to install vents for air circulation.
Steel is valued for its extreme durability, being more durable than any other option, including aluminum. Steel is also generally available in a wide variety of color options. The primary downside to steel is its cost, which is considerably higher than aluminum.
5. Fiber Cement
Fiber cement can be found in a variety of colors, woodgrain textures and vents. Choosing fiber cement for your soffit comes with several advantages:
- Low-maintenance: Fiber cement is resistant to damage from a number of sources, including fungus, insects and UV rays. All you have to do is clean it regularly using a power washer. And when you want to refresh its appearance, fiber cement can be easily painted.
- Durable: Fiber cement siding lasts a long time and is fire-resistant, which makes it among the most durable soffit materials available.
- Customizable: As this is made of cement, it can be molded easily into many different shapes.
- Sustainable: As fiber cement requires little maintenance and relies on waste wood fiber, it is a very environmentally friendly option.
Fiber cement also comes with some disadvantages, primarily:
- Installation: The installation of fiber cement products requires much skill and cannot be performed with common tools. To install fiber cement soffits, you’ll either have to buy some specialized tools or pay a professional to perform the installation.
- Cost: Fiber cement’s upfront costs make it one of the more expensive soffit materials. However, keep in mind that its low maintenance costs will most likely offset these costs over time.
Updating the soffits on your home is a great way to add value to your home, but picking the right material can be a challenge. When making a decision, take into consideration your budget, your home’s design, the time and energy you have to do maintenance and your interest in a sustainable solution.
What Is Fascia?
Fascia refers to the long, straight boards running along your roof’s lower edge. It serves as trim or a finishing edge that attaches directly to the ends of trusses and rafters. It generally supports the lower edge of the bottom row of shingles and is also responsible for carrying the gutters. Carrying all this weight is no easy task, especially during heavy rain. During a downpour, water can enter gutters at several gallons per second.
Fascia boards are most commonly made from wood, although also come in aluminum, plastic and vinyl.
Why Is Fascia Important?
One purpose is to protect your roof and home’s interior from moisture by preventing it from entering. It also serves an aesthetic purpose by creating an even appearance along the edge of your roof.
If water makes its way past the fascia board, serious damage can occur. This damage can be caused by clogged gutters, ice dams or improper shingle overhang.
To determine whether your fascia is damaged or not, inspect it for splinters, cracks and discoloration. If your fascia has been exposed to large amounts of water, it will rot and detach from the side of your house. If you notice this, replace the fascia immediately to prevent further damage from occurring.
Your fascia can also be protected through the installation of a drip edge, which is a piece of metal shaped like an L. It is nailed into the decking of your roof and sits just under the first layer of your shingles. It serves to deflect water away from your fascia.
Some other ways to protect your fascia include:
- Choosing a good species of wood. You should choose a wood that is naturally resistant to decay.
- Nailing the fascia board in the right location. Don’t insert nails near the end grain’s edge, this will increase the chances of splitting.
- Using the right kind of nails. This will also help your board last.
- Painting the edges. Painting your fascia boards’ edges will also help to protect the most vulnerable parts of the board.
Fascia Board Installation Tips
If you’re interested in installing fascia boards yourself, you can use the guidelines below as a reference:
- Prepare all your tools. You’ll need to gather all the tools for your project even before you start working on your fascia. This will prevent you from running around the house once your project begins and save your time and energy. Examples of tools you’ll need are a power nailer, a table saw, a crimper for sheet metals, a plane, a compound miter saw, a chalkline and clamps.
- Install the sheathing and board first. Although you will always have the option of which you’d like to install first, we recommend that you start with sheathing and board. This will ensure you can fit the roof perfectly into them. You also have the option of adding boards behind the fascia, which are known as subfascias. They’re commonly made of lumber and serve to straighten your main fascia if the rafter becomes insufficient.
- Know what type of roof you’re working with. This will determine the procedures you will follow. For example, if your house has hip roofs, you can tack the fascia board immediately into the rafters. However, if your roof is gabled, meaning that it has gabled ends, you might need to make markings on your fascia board to make sure it fits the rafters.
- Nail in the fascia boards. Nail in the boards twice with the soffits and roof joists. When installing new fascia boards, make sure you can double nail them to your roof joists to achieve more stability.
- Choose an appropriate fascia depth. If working with tiled roofs, it’s critical to pick the right depth so that the fascia can hold on properly and won’t collapse from the weight.
Hiring a Professional
It’s often better to leave these kinds of projects to the professionals. If you enjoy DIY projects, you may consider installing the soffits and fascia by yourself. However, it’s important to keep the following in mind before deciding to undertake this project:
- Safety: Because soffit and fascia installation always requires a ladder, there is a risk of injury. The taller your house, the taller the ladder and the higher the risk. Professional installers have been trained with proper safety procedures, so they have a much lower risk of injury. They’re also insured and bonded, so you will not be liable.
- Required tools: If you don’t have the tools needed for the job, you’ll have to buy them — and find a place to store them afterward.
- Time: If you’re not sure whether you’ll have the time to spend — or would prefer to spend your leisure time in other ways — you may want to consider hiring a professional.
- Quality: Professionals possess the experience and knowledge required to do the job right the first time. Their results will last longer and look better.
Let Brothers Aluminum Update Your Siding
Transform the curb appeal of your home with long-lasting, attractive and energy-efficient siding from Brothers Aluminum. Our siding requires minimal maintenance and will not chip, rot, blister or peel. It also breathes five times more effectively than other insulated systems, which keeps mold and mildew from growing. Our siding products come from industry-leading brands, including Certain Teed, Royal Building Products, Alside and Mitten and are available in a wide variety of colors, allowing you to pick a hue that perfectly matches your home while also boosting its value.
Contact us today using our online contact form or by calling 1-800-639-5665.