Soffit is the paneling that encloses the underside of any type of overhang or projection of the roofline. Soffit boards protect the structure from being compromised by the elements. To ensure proper ventilation and continuous air flow, soffit should include appropriate venting.
Soffits are available in a variety of colors and materials including aluminum, wood and vinyl. There are basically two types of soffit panels – vented and standard. Vented soffit includes small holes or thin slots to allow unobstructed air flow up to and throughout the attic or crawl space. Depending on the configuration of the roof, vented soffits can be used exclusively or in conjunction with standard soffit boards.
While soffit is generally the “ceiling” of the overhang or porch and somewhat protected by the roof, it can be vulnerable to water damage. If gutters overflow regularly or are prone to leaking from gutter section seams, water can seep into the soffit boards. If they are made of wood, water seepage left unattended can create the ideal environment for rot, mold and mildew.
Since soffit is protected from direct damage from weather conditions by the roofline, it typically lasts for as long as the home. But when soffits are damaged or compromised by rot or mold, they need to be replaced or repaired. A common method of repairing soffit is to place cladding soffits over the damaged ones. This eliminates the need to physically remove damaged sections.
It is important that soffit panels be properly installed. Loose panels or boards that do not fit exactly allow squirrels and birds to get into the spaces behind the soffit and set up permanent residence. A professional exterior finishing company will also guarantee the proper placement of vents or vented soffits. While the role they play might seem minimal, soffits add a finished appearance to your home.