Soffit is the underside of an architectural structure such as the eaves, a roof overhang or a porch ceiling. Like fascia, soffit panels cover the behind-the-scenes things like pipes, wires or rafter tails that detract from the esthetic appearance of your home. Soffit used on the roof of a house typically extends from the side of the house to the edge of the eave, sealing the space beneath the eave and protecting it from the elements.
Because it’s the underneath part of the roof, it might seem that soffit panels wouldn’t be as effected by climatic conditions as the more exposed elements of a house. When shingles are damaged, flashing becomes rusted or gutters overflow, soffit repeatedly in contact with water or moisture can rot or provide the ideal environment for mold or mildew to develop. Wood soffit is more prone to rotting than vinyl soffit or aluminum soffit. Aluminum soffit and vinyl soffit are the easiest to maintain. Ventilated soffit materials will often help to improve air flow into the home and control the temperature, keeping it cool in summer. Vented soffit panels can also prevent ice dams from forming.
However, regardless of what material it is made of, soffit can be an inviting place for birds and squirrels to build nests if they can find a way to get in behind the soffitting. This is why it is important for soffit to be installed properly. In addition to the usual problems associated with wildlife being where they shouldn’t, birds and squirrels use twigs, leaves, dried grasses, bits of cloth and string, etc. to build their nests. These nesting materials can accumulate over time, becoming a health or fire hazard.
Soffit generally comes in sheets or panels that can be cut to the required specifications. The width of the soffit panel is usually dictated by the width of the roof’s overhang. An overhang can measure as little as three inches (narrow) or as much as three feet (wide). When replacing old wood soffit with another material such as aluminum soffit or vinyl soffit, consider how it will affect the appearance of your home; the type of construction; and how much prep work will need to be done.