Soffit and Fascia. Fancy words for simple but critical roofing components. Let’s look at what they are, why you need them, and how you can care for them.
A soffit is a horizontal surface that runs under the eaves of your house. It sits parallel to the ground and fills in what would otherwise be a gap underneath the roof’s overhang. Fascia boards run along the side of the overhang, just behind the gutters, parallel to the structure’s wall.
Both soffit and fascia boards are typically made of wood but may also be plastic, aluminum, or vinyl.
Soffits are important to a building’s aesthetic. They create a clean, uncluttered surface. They also come in many colors, offering a way to add character to your home and include elements that match the other style features of the building. The soffit provides an opportunity to make the structure’s façade more attractive from both the street and up close or inside the home. They also give a home a finished appearance.
But soffits are about more than just aesthetics. Soffits offer protection, keeping the elements off the rafters where they would otherwise be exposed. By keeping out water, they prevent mold and other wear and tear. Strong winds can easily blow water or snow under the eaves. The soffit blocks them from working their way under the roofline.
Soffits also serve as an essential component of a home’s ventilation. Most homes have an attic vent, allowing heated air to escape properly. But for air to leave, there needs to be an intake of new air to replace it. That’s where the soffit comes in. As a passive ventilation system, soffits are a highly effective means of circulating air through the roof area. They allow heat and moisture to be drawn away from the structure, helping to prevent mold and even to cool the home in summer. The soffit is what allows your home to breathe.
A soffit also keeps pests from nesting under the rafters or working their way into your home. Since insects and animals can damage your home and present a threat if they find their way inside, the soffit is a crucial line of defense.
The term “fascia” is Latin for “ribbon or bandage.” And that is appropriate because a building’s fascia is both decorative like a ribbon and functional like a bandage.
The fascia gives your home a clean, finished look, capping off the end of the roofline. But a fascia board’s primary purpose is functional. Like the soffit, fascia boards protect against animal and insect infestations, creating a barrier and keeping unwanted guests outside where they belong. Birds, squirrels, hornets, and other creatures probably hate fascia, which is exactly why homeowners need them.
Beyond critter-control, fascia boards also protect a building by keeping moisture out of places it is likely to cause problems. They block rain, wind, and snow from entering the home. In the shorter term, this can help with heating and cooling costs. In the longer term, it can prevent mold, rot, and other expensive issues. Keeping your home dry and pest-free keeps your repair bills low.
As with the rest of the roof, proper care and maintenance can extend the life and effectiveness of your soffit and fascia components.
At the first signs of mildew or mold, gently clean them with mild detergent and water. This will protect the moisture-resistant coatings and help them more effectively do their jobs. Avoid spraying water directly onto the surfaces if the soffit is vented instead of solid.
Periodically, check under the soffits for signs of pests. Birds, insects, and rodents may take advantage of any cracks or gaps. Check for signs of unwanted invaders, including droppings, nests, and chew or claw marks. If you see signs of pests, either remove the creatures yourself or contact a professional for larger or unsafe jobs. Once the unwanted guests are gone, clean up after them. If there are damaged sections of the roofing materials that make your home more hospitable to critters, contact your roofing contractor about repairs.
When performing a roof inspection, also look for holes, rot, rust, peeling paint, or any other signs of wear and damage. If you see anything concerning, address the situation with the help of a professional roofer so who can repair the damage before it spreads.
Your soffit and fascia are critical components of your roof system. Understanding what they do and how to care for them can help ensure your roof stays properly ventilated, remains water-tight, and doesn’t host unwanted guests.