Why Soffits and Fascias Are Important

Whether you're hiring a pro or doing it yourself, it's important to know the parts of your roof.

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Photo courtesy of Therma Tru

An exterior soffit is located on the span beneath the rafter tails, while the fascia is the exposed horizontal band you see at the end of the rafters. These architectural elements found along the eave area do more than just add visual interest and give a finished look to your home. They help protect the exterior of your house by keeping out pests like bats, birds and squirrels, and give you a way to disguise ventilation for your attic.

"If you're living in a climate with high winds that causes rain to swirl up under the eaves, your soffit keeps water from blowing into your house," says Dave Leff, president of Leff Construction. "If it's not maintained well, it's a place for water to collect. Once a year when you clean and inspect your gutters, that's the time to inspect your fascia and soffit for peeling paint and other problems. Keep everything well-painted, sealed and caulked."

While soffits and fascia are traditionally constructed from materials like aluminum and wood, many homeowners are now choosing ones made from synthetic and composite materials like UPVC and vinyl because they offer easy maintenance and durability. Vinyl soffits (some are beaded or smooth, while others offer the look of wood grain) and vinyl fascia and trim products come in different styles to complement the architecture and look of your home. There are also products available made from recycled materials, for those who want an eco-friendly alternative.

Making sure your soffit and fascia are installed correctly and properly waterproofed is the best way to prevent problems down the road. Damaged flashing or gutters that don't function properly can also create issues.

"You really need to keep your gutters clean," says Bill Bartlett, president of the design/build firm Home ReBuilders of Atlanta. "When the water backs up, the first place it wants to go is the fascia board."

Replacing your soffit generally costs about $20 to $30 a linear foot installed, while replacing your fascia costs about $15 to $25 a linear foot installed. Prices for the project depend on a number of factors, including the materials used and the size of your house. It can cost $5,000 or more to repair damaged or rotted fascia and soffit boards, drywall and framing.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • If you discover mildew or mold on your soffit, use a soft brush or broom and a cleaning solution made with bleach and water to clean it.
  • Periodically check for bee, hornet or wasp nests. If you're not comfortable working on a ladder or the nests are extensive, call a professional to remove the nests.
  • If installing your vinyl fascia yourself, it helps to cut the pieces a bit longer than you measured so you can overlap the joints.

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