We have already covered soffit vents and how they work when paired with other roofing vents in one of our previous articles. We did not, however, cover what a soffit is. This article will cover what a soffit is, why are they important and some common materials that they are made out of.
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- A basic explanation of what a soffit is.
- What is a soffit used for and why is it important?
- Why are soffits so important for your home?
- What materials are soffits commonly made out of?
What is a soffit?
The dictionary defines a soffit as the underside of an architectural structure. So when we use the term soffit when discussing roofing, what do we mean? Roofs naturally extend over the edge of your outside walls, this space is often called an overhanging eave. The underside of your eaves if given a finish out of materials such as vinyl or aluminum, this is called a soffit.
Soffit vents are often times the same color and design as a house’s siding, this, however, does not need to be the case on every home, depending on your personal preference you can shake this up for your own appeal.
They can also be made out of many different materials depending on your personal preference, style, and budget. Some of these are made out of durable, easily accessible materials bringing the price down, while others have more ascetic appeal for some homeowners and carry a premium price tag.
What is a soffit used for and why are they important?
Now that we have defined and explained to you what a soffit is, its time to answer an important question, what is their use?
One use of a soffit is to cover the overhanging eaves between the ceiling and the topmost part of your wall for aesthetic appeal. Another and arguably the most crucial part of your soffits is to carry ventilation for your roofing, the vents installed here are often times paired up with another roofing vent such as a ridge vent.
You can see the importance of a soffit already, with it holding vents and assisting in ventilation, this keeps moisture and heat out of your attic preventing damage to your roofing members and lowering energy costs.
If not for the soffits hot air can build up in your attic this can be from the sun beating down on your roof or from the energy from your house. This hot air will become humid and can cause severe moisture damage to your roofing members as well as can cause your shingles to degrade at a faster rate. In the winter this hot and humid air can also cause ice to form on the inside of your attic which is a massive problem for the health of your roof. Ventilation is essential for keeping humidity levels to a minimum in your attic as well as your home.
If your attic gets too hot, this can also increase your energy bills as well which is a considerable concern, something as simple as ensuring that you have adequate and efficient ventilation can actually save you money in the long run. This ventilation is crucial to keeping your energy bills down especially in those hot summer months.
Soffits do not only help with ventilation for your attic though, but they also provide protection for the underside of your roof deck and this area. The soffit covers this up, preventing all sorts of damages from insects and rodent infestations to wood rot and mold. Insects like wasps and bees love to nest in these areas. The key reason why soffits can protect you from these is that they can be finished, painted or made out of durable materials that are not susceptible to these sorts of damages, whereas you do not have this option for your roof decking. To prevent these problems on your current building you need to ensure that they are well maintained, and if there is any damage such as holes, cracks, panels missing that can allow for insects to get in, so make sure that you get them fixed as soon as you are able.
So from this, we can see that soffits are unquestionably extremely significant to the health of not only your roof but also your building.
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What materials are used for soffits?
All soffits come in many different materials, colors, and styles. You just have to choose the one that is right for you and your home, as well as consider all for your budget.
Some come with a higher price tag than others for stylistic and material reasons, while some others are made out of cheaper materials, however, don’t let that fool you they may be more durable and actually last longer for the price that you pay.
It is advised that you consult an experienced roofing professional in your area to see what is the best option for you and for your home.
Let’s go onto discuss the good qualities of some common materials you can expect to find on homes in your area so that you can make an informed decision on which would work for you and your home the best.
Vinyl is the most affordable of all the materials mentioned on this list and offers great bang for your buck. It is an easy material to come by and simple to manufacture, it is also usually the most common type of soffit on the market.
This is an excellent material if you are wanting a variety of choices in styles, the customization with vinyl vents are endless. They come with all different grains and textures.
Similar to aluminum, vinyl is not susceptible to rot and are somewhat resilient when it comes to cracks or chips. It is certainly a very durable material as well, however, can warp in extreme heat.
This is also an excellent material for insulating your home and one of the many reasons a lot of homes choose to use vinyl for their soffits. With it also being water resistant this material is great for areas that experience a substantial amount of moisture.
One great thing about aluminum is that it is one of the most durable of all the materials mentioned here, it will not rot, crack or chip, making it very easy to maintain with low maintenance costs it does not require frequent treatment and does not attract dirt like some other materials on this list.
Aluminum is also water resistant making this material ideal for wetter climates, it is not susceptible to rot and humidity buildup like wood.
Encase of fire, these soffits are not combustible, meaning encase of fire, they will not allow it to spread too fast.
Steel is very much like aluminum, it is arguably a great deal more durable than aluminum, vinyl, and wood as it resists all elements. However, the price is at a premium being more expensive than its aluminum counterparts.
The customization is great when it comes to steel as most roofing or building contractors stock a variety of colors and styles.
This material is often the more expensive option, and you would not use this for just any home, with it coming with a higher price and being vulnerable to rot without being properly treated and maintained.
However it is not all bad news, wooden soffits can look beautiful, and people who choose to go with this material will be left with a gorgeous looking home. It adds immense warmth to the look and feel of the house.
As you can see soffits are not only installed on homes for their aesthetics but are a crucial part of the health and longevity of your home. It is recommended that you consider not only the style for your home but very importantly, the material that you would like to use.
I would say the best thing for you to do is to consult a professional that specializes in your area as they will be able to assist you in finding the perfect balance for your home.
Hi there! My name is Jonathan and I absolutely love writing DIY roofing guides. If you have any questions, I invite you to leave them below in the comment section and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you enjoy my work, please follow me on social media or share this post on yours. All this information has been double checked for accuracy, but please let me know if I have missed anything!