The construction of your roof involves a lot more than just sheathing, shingles or metal roofing material. Many people don’t think about soffit, fascia, and gutters as being integral to a roof’s longevity and efficiency.
What is Soffit?
Not only are your house soffits indispensable to the rafters and sheathing of your roof; they also serve in other critical capacities varying from style to energy efficiency, helping to prevent skyrocketing utility bills. So when you are planning to get a new roof or siding installed, it may be a good time to have your soffit inspected as well. It can be easier to match your soffit to your siding and roof at the same time.
Most roofs have what many refer to as an overhang–the area where your rafters extend beyond your exterior walls. This space is also known by other names, such as roof eaves. In order to provide both protection and a finished look, when the underside of the eave is covered with a finishing material, such as vinyl, aluminum, wood or fiber cement it is called your exterior soffit.
Beyond enhancing its appearance, soffits help safeguard your house against unwanted pests like wasps, bees, birds, squirrels, and bats. And perhaps even more importantly, they offer you a good means to help vent your attic.
The Importance and Purpose of Soffit
In truth, the primary role of your soffit is to help provide adequate ventilation.
Since the soffit material covers up the bottom side of your rafters, this means that it will also affect the space and airflow in your attic. Warmth develops within upper rooms and rises after some time, while the sun heats up the roof of the house. This causes a build-up of heat in your attic.
In the event that your home’s own private heatwave (!) isn’t receiving appropriate ventilation to help moderate the rising temperature with cooler air, it can make your attic space become superheated. Subsequently, then, this can cause the shingles to age and deteriorate more rapidly and can lead to the development of ice dams in the winter. So guess what? Yep, water leaks begin. And your overheated space also results in higher utility costs. Having a healthy, circulating air flow is vital for regulating moisture levels in your attic. When good ventilation isn’t available through your soffit, you can get a buildup in moisture content that will create troublesome issues with mold, mildew, and wood decomposition.
During heavy storms, we can have strong winds that blow rain up under the eaves. That water is kept out of your house by your soffits. But if they aren’t kept in good working condition then they can become an area where water seeps and pools. When you conduct your yearly inspection (ahem!) and cleaning of your gutters, make a point to check out your soffit and fascia, too. Look for fading, flaking or peeling paint and any other possible problems. Be sure to paint, seal and caulk every area that needs it.
What Is the Best Soffit Material?
When it comes to installing a soffit, there are several choices of material you can use. In many cases, a homeowner decides to wait to install a new soffit at the same time that they put on new siding so that they can match the materials and color. Sometimes it can be advantageous to replace the soffit separately. For example, if the existing soffit is deteriorating or damaged, or when you get a roof replacement.
It’s advisable to remember that since this part of your house is integral to both its function and look, the type of soffit you install is really of corresponding value. So you don’t want to default to the least expensive covering, or even the most common. And while both wood and vinyl have been the more routinely chosen materials, they each have their own shortcomings.
Wood soffits will need replacement of warped or deteriorating pieces, and, their upkeep mandates regular scraping and painting. Vinyl soffit can warp, buckle, or discolor when the weather gets very hot. So with either material, there may be more maintenance required than you wish to manage. We find that most homeowners prefer to be able to “set it and forget it” for as long as possible.
So to that end, a fiber cement soffit can bridge the choices between form and function, or, aesthetic value vs. the practicality of lower maintenance. Fiber cement soffits are strong, factory-primed panels scientifically designed for optimal durability and function on the underside of eaves. Available in either a smooth finish or in wood grain, you can choose from vented soffit panels or unvented, depending on which option will best serve your needs. And there are plenty of available color options, too, so you can pretty easily match your siding and trim to create an appealing and uniform look.
Due to their long-lasting durability and easy maintenance, soffits constructed of synthetic and composite elements (such as vinyl or UPVC) are replacing those made of more traditional materials like wood or aluminum. And making these kinds of choices even easier are the options available, not only in vinyl soffit but also in vinyl fascia and trim products, which offer a variety of styles that can compliment your home’s appearance and improve curb appeal. And furthermore, for people who prefer eco-friendly products, there are even recycled soffit material options available.
Aluminum soffit and fascia provide another good option in strength, durability and low maintenance. These superior corrosion-resistant panels help prevent moisture buildup and decay problems that occur frequently in eave and overhang areas. Be sure to include these in your considerations and consult with your siding contractor or roofer about the use and cost of aluminum soffit.
Maintenance Tips to Keep In Mind
The first way to avoid fascia and soffit problems is to ensure that they are correctly installed. A professional roofer or contractor can inspect them for you, and will usually do so for little to no charge. We recommend having this done whenever you are having a siding or roof inspection done. In addition, have them checked to see that they are rightly waterproofed.
Another important place for inspection is to see that your flashing and gutters are working correctly, as these can also cause problems. And the best place to start is with your gutters.
It’s very important to keep gutters clean and water flowing smoothly. Because when the water overflows, the fascia board is the first place that water will go. Not only does this result in damaged fascia, but from there it can travel to the soffits and work its way down inside your walls where it can harm studs and drywall, costing you lots more money.
To keep your overhangs safer for people and looking nice, be sure to look for nesting hornets, wasps, or bees. It’s best not to use a ladder to get at the nests unless the little buggers are inactive, like in the winter months here in Missouri. Angered wasps can be like little minions of hell unleashed upon mortals, especially if you’re allergic to their stings, so there is no shame if you decide to call a professional to remove the nests.
How Much Does Soffit Cost To Replace
The costs for roof soffit installation typically run approximately $20 to $30 per linear foot. Several factors can help determine the cost of your project. The dimensions involved for your home, any particular difficulties that may be involved (such as unique construction), as well as the type of soffit material you choose. Water damaged soffit, fascia, sheetrock, and framing material expenses can add up quickly, resulting in up to $5,000 (or more) in repair costs.
Tip: Invest in Quality Soffit
Though it is a relatively small aspect of your home’s exterior, nonetheless, it plays a critical role. So don’t overlook this area of your home maintenance, but give it the proper attention it warrants. We recommend that you invest in the best quality soffit that you can in order to complete and maximize your home’s exterior construction and style.
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2140 Bagnell Dam Blvd
Lake Ozark, Missouri 65049
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