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Taking Care of Your Soffit and Fascia

Soffit and fascia are constantly exposed to the elements year after year. While gutters play a major role in keeping water from gathering behind the fascia and seeping into soffit panels, simple maintenance can help prolong the lifespan of the exterior finishing elements that make up the roofline.

Inspect Soffit and Fascia

Prevention goes a long way to avoiding expensive repairs or replacement of soffit and fascia. Soffit panels cover the underside of a roof’s overhang; fascia boards seal off the ends of the roof rafters from the elements. Periodically inspect soffit and fascia for potential problems such as:

  • soft spots or rotting – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • warping – applicable to wood soffit and fascia only
  • holes
  • peeling or bubbled paint
  • stained surfaces
  • cracking and splitting – applicable to vinyl and wood soffits and fascia
  • panels or boards separating from the house
  • missing fascia and/or soffit panels

The most common reason for water damage to soffit and fascia is overflowing gutters. Check to see if there are clogs in the gutter channel or blockages around the gutter outlet.

Clean Soffit and Fascia

Soffits are fabricated from three main types of material: wood, vinyl, and metal. While their key purpose is aesthetic, soffits also make the roofline stronger. Due to constant exposure to the elements, soffit boards can become grimy and collect bits of debris in corners, around vents, etc. Whatever they are made of, most surface dirt should be easily removed by washing with a solution of mild detergent. When stronger cleaning methods are needed, ensure that you use a cleaner that won’t damage the material the soffits are made from.

Fascia boards are also made from wood, vinyl, and metal, most commonly aluminum. Washing fascia at least once a year maintains their appearance. Removing streaks and grime reduces potential damage that environmental pollutants might harm the finish of the fascia boards, minimizing how well they protect your home.

Repair Soffit and Fascia

Small holes or cracks in wood soffit and fascia can be repaired, and warped sections of fascia or soffit panels can be removed then replaced. Even when repairs can be made to soffits and fascia made of wood, many roofing contractors advise replacement with comparable aluminum or vinyl products that require less maintenance and care.

In most cases, metal or aluminum soffit and fascia can be repaired or repainted. However, vinyl soffits and fascia typically have to be replaced when damaged.

Improve the Appearance of Your Roofline with Fascia

When a home’s exterior finishing elements are carefully selected with an overall design in mind, the result is cohesive and eye-catching. Fascia, an exterior finishing element, plays an important role in a roofing system, keeping weather out and heat in. If you’re upgrading your home’s exterior, take the opportunity to improve the appearance of your roofline with new fascia.

What is Fascia?

Fascia boards cover the ends of the roof rafters that would otherwise be exposed to the elements. Whether it’s intentional or not, the roofline of a house makes a difference to your curb appeal. The two types of roofing fascia most commonly used in residential applications are eave fascia and gable fascia.

Eave fascia covers the exposed ends of the rafters of the roof and the top of exterior walls immediately below the roofline. This type of fascia board is typically flat and/or without decorative detail to form a smooth backing for gutters.

Gable fascia is attached to edges formed by the triangular upper part of a wall closing the end of a ridged roof. Decorated or detailed gable fascia is used to enhance a home’s exterior.

Fascia Materials

While fascia is still made of wood and composite wood products, popular materials for fascia boards or fascia panels are aluminum and vinyl. This is largely due to the fact that aluminum and vinyl fascia can be manufactured to mimic wood grain, without the hassles of wood, such rotting, splitting or mold.

While metal fascias are mostly seen on commercial and public buildings, metals like copper, zinc and galvanized steel fascia are used for residential exteriors to define the roofline or emphasize a certain architectural feature or style.

Because fascia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of wind and water, strength and appearance are important. For example, expect to replace wood fascia every five to seven years, depending on where you live.

Maximum Impact

Homeowners who want to create a particular look for their home exterior using the roofline as a focal point choose elements with maximum impact. These include:

  • bold (bright) or dramatic (dark) colours for fascia panels
  • pairing fascia with soffits in a contrasting or complementary colour
  • incorporating complementary fascia, soffit and trim materials to add levels of texture
  • stylistically connecting eave fascia, gable fascia, entry door and window trim

Soffit Lights

Exterior lighting is one of the simplest methods to add a level of security to your property. A well-lit house is a deterrent to burglars. Using soffit lights to illuminate the front door, steps and other areas of your home’s exterior will help protect your home. It is also an excellent way of increasing your nighttime curb appeal.

What is Soffit Lighting?

A soffit light is a type of outdoor lighting intended to fit into the soffit panels of the eaves, a porch ceiling, a veranda ceiling or the garage roof overhang.

Soffit lights go by a number of names including can lights, pot lights or downlights.

A soffit light is typically designed with an exterior trim to cover the hole cut into the soffit, while the electrical elements are encased in housing to protect the lighting fixture (and your home) from potential fire hazards.

Considerations

Purpose: What is the purpose of installing soffit lights? Want to be able to clearly see the lock? Select an angled soffit downlight over the front door. Give the exterior of your home depth and definition with second storey soffit lights.

Safety ratings: Any outdoor light fixture you purchase should be industry standard and have the applicable product safety certifications for its use.

Space: Select the appropriate size and number of soffit light fixtures for the space you will have to work with – typical overhangs can vary from 12 inches or less to 36 inches.

Types of Soffit Lights

Voltage: 120-V systems generally cost less than 12-V low-voltage fixtures, but 12-Volt systems are more energy-efficient.

Bulb type: Common bulbs used in soffit light fixtures include LED, compact florescent and halogen. Factors for selecting one kind over another are: the cost to operate, the cost to buy, and how much heat is emitted.

Size: While 4-inch pot lights are the most common size for 12-V models and 6-inch soffit lights are typically paired with 120-V systems, outdoor recessed lighting 3” and 5” diameter options.

Features: Decide on what features are important to you. Although round is popular, square soffit lights are also available. Do you want a baffle to diffuse or change light flow? When a downlight won’t cut it, try an eyeball or gimbal fixture that can be angled to shed light where it’s needed.

When Replacing Soffit and Fascia

Soffit and fascia are part of the roofing system, protecting your home from stormy weather. They can become damaged by environmental pollution, squirrel invasions, insects, and repeated exposure to heavy winds. When replacing soffit and fascia, here are some things to keep in mind.

Appearance

Loose soffit boards or fascia panels allow animals and birds to get in behind soffits and into the attic or crawlspace. While the elements are mostly responsible for soffit and fascia damage, visible gaps in soffit and fascia can also be attributed to being installed incorrectly. When having soffit and fascia replaced, ensure that the contractor uses quality materials and industry-standard installation methods.

New Materials

If your home is older, the soffit panels and fascia boards are most likely made of wood. Over time, they can become warped, split, or rotted. Today, popular materials for soffit and fascia are aluminum, vinyl, and fiber cement because they are more durable than wood, aren’t prone to rotting and insect infestations, and require less maintenance. Upgrading sooner rather than later will help better protect your home and increase its resale value.

Cover or Remove

One of the installation choices is to cover the old soffit and fascia with new vinyl, aluminum or fiber cement soffit panels and fascia boards. Before deciding upon this installation method, a thorough inspection of the existing soffit and fascia will have to be done. This will determine:

  • the presence of rot
  • how much rotting has occurred
  • whether soffit venting needs to be repositioned and/or increased
  • leaks and where they’re coming from

If no problems are found, then the old fascia and soffit can directly be covered with new panels.

Colour Choice

You might not be aware of the visual impact soffit boards and fascia panels have on your home’s exterior. While soffit and fascia are designed to keep water out, they are an exterior finishing detail (aesthetics). Take the opportunity to select a new colour. More curb appeal is never a bad thing.

Should You DIY Soffit or Fascia Repairs?

If the soffit and fascia of your home are made of wood, chances are that sooner or later you will have to repair or replace them. Repairing soffit panels or fascia boards that are rotting, splitting or displaying other signs of water damage might seem relatively straightforward, especially if you like to DIY. But as with any home maintenance project, it can quickly become more involved than you expected. Here are some things to consider when deciding to DIY soffit or fascia repairs.

Proper Tools and Equipment

Expect to use or rent scaffolding; a ladder won’t give you the freedom of movement needed to get the job done. Since you will most likely be replacing old wood with new aluminum panels, tools needed for standard soffit and fascia repairs include a circular saw, jigsaw, framing square, combination square, tin snips, saw horses and protective eyewear.

Damage Assessment

Determine the extent of the damage to the soffit and/or fascia. The more extensive, the longer the project is going to take. When damaged sections exceed 10 or more affected areas, consider hiring a gutter contractor.

The Gutters

When replacing fascia boards, and in some cases soffit panels, the gutter sections will have to be removed first. Once repairs to the soffit and fascia have been made, the gutters have to be correctly reattached to ensure the proper slope for drainage.

Fascia Board

Depending on the extent of the damage, all or part of the fascia boards will have to be removed. Examine the rafters for soft spots or rotted areas. If damage to the fascia has occurred over a long period of time, rafters, the attic and roofing tiles could also be affected. Replacement fascia should be measured and cut to the correct size, then installed using the right size and type of nail and/or screw. If replacement material doesn’t match, you might have to paint or stain the new fascia boards.

Soffit Panels

You will have to cut out the bad soffit or remove the damaged soffit panels. Install replacement sections according to manufacturer instructions. Some types of vented and unvented soffits might require an application of sealant. To blend in, color-match replacement soffit sheets by painting or staining them.

Why Gutter Protection is Important

Gutters need to be clear of debris to allow rainwater to flow freely through the gutter system. While it might be a pain to clean your gutters the recommended twice a year, it’s probably more of a pain to have to repair the water damage done to your home when gutters fail. This is the main reason gutter protection is important, but there are other advantages as well.

Less Debris Buildup

Consider the wind factor; it’s not only the trees directly surrounding your house that you have to worry about. Our pros can tell a few tales about what lands into gutters on a windy day! An active weather system can easily fill unprotected gutters with twigs, leaves, seed pods, pine cones and dirt. Gutter protection like leaf screens or gutter guards do keep a large percentage of debris out of a gutter system. Less debris means less chance of leaves, twigs, etc. building up to the point where it creates clogs, causes water to spill over the sides of the gutters, and allows rainwater to collect instead of properly drain down the downspouts.

Preventative Medicine

Clogged gutters can potentially cause damage to all parts of your home’s exterior. Installing some type of gutter protection can prevent:

  • foundation damage
  • soil erosion
  • flooded basement
  • shifting/pitted driveway
  • fewer areas for mold and mildew to grow on siding and gutters
  • stagnant water that can attract insects
  • rotting soffits and/fascia
  • “soft” spots on roofing tiles

Eco-Friendly

Because leaf guards keep a lot of debris out of gutters, it means that you have to clean them less often. It might not seem like much of a boost to the environment, but every little helps: using fewer resources like water and cutting down on detergents and other cleaning solutions when maintaining your gutter system is definitely eco-friendly.

Leaking Gutter Corners

Homeowners examine gutter seams for wear and tear, but forget about the corners. It’s especially important for those who have seamless aluminum gutters to check the corners, since this is the only place where leaks will occur. Here are some signs that gutter corners have sprung a leak.

To see whether or not a gutter corner is leaking, look at it typically one to two hours after a consistent shower or heavy rainfall. This will help you differentiate between water escaping as a result of compromised caulking and rainwater running down the sides of the gutters. If the corner needs resealing, you will find water dripping from the underside of that particular corner.

When it’s not raining, look for these other signs that the gutter corners are leaking. These include:

  • mold, moss or mildew growing on the outside
  • pooling water and/or obvious soil erosion on the ground directly beneath
  • discoloured fascia board behind the corner
  • rotting soffit around the immediate area
  • paint peeling off the fascia and/or soffits

If the dripping corner isn’t causing problems such as creating a sink hole or a slipping hazard, it’s really not that big a deal, right? Bottom line, leaking gutters don’t work properly. Unchannelled rain water goes places you don’t want it to, like behind fascia boards and soffit panels. Corners that leak need to be fixed. Fresh caulking or sealant has to be applied to the inside of the gutter channel. When recaulking is not possible, the sections of gutter where they are joined together will have to be replaced.

Maintaining Soffit and Fascia

Soffits are the underside panels of the eaves, while fascia boards cover the ends of roof rafters. Soffit and fascia are an integral part of the roofing system and play important roles in the longevity and comfort of your home. Use these tips to keep soffit and fascia looking new year after year.

Look First

Just like you would with the gutters, regularly inspect soffit panels and fascia boards for damage. Look for small holes, streaks or stains that might be an indication of water damage, peeling paint, and the appearance of rust (metal soffits/fascia) or rot (wood soffits/fascia). Small holes in soffit and fascia can be the ideal invitation to insects and other kinds of pests to invade your roofline. Since gutters are typically attached to the fascia and bear the weight of a gutter system, it is particularly important to check for rotting boards and other potential problems.

Repair or Replace

When you do find small holes, repair them as soon as possible. Assess the areas that have been affected by water. If the water damage is extensive as evidenced by rotted soffit boards and/or fascia panels, they might need to be replaced rather than repaired. The same will apply to metal soffit and fascia if rusting is widespread.

Cleaning

Many problems related to soffit and fascia can be prevented by regular cleaning. Soffit boards and fascia panels are often overlooked by homeowners for two main reasons: the first is their importance is minimized; the second is they are not easily accessible. Fascia, especially is high up and hard to reach. Use the appropriate cleaning method for the type of material the soffit and fascia are made of. If you didn’t have the soffits and fascia installed, keep in mind that the fascia, for example, could be wood, while the soffit is vinyl. When cleaning vented soffits, ensure that they are not soaked through or that water is forced into openings (avoid using a pressure washer)

Soffits and Your Home

While often overlooked, soffits are an important element of your home exterior. A roof typically extends several inches past the walls of a house: soffits cover the gap between the roofline and the walls. Properly installed soffits play an important role in the longevity of your roof and act as a secondary line of defense for protecting siding and interior walls when gutters leak or overflow. Knowing what kinds of soffit are available can help you choose the ones that will complement your home.

Wood Soffit

Wood soffit provides a classic look to exterior finishing. Whether they are made from real wood, engineered wood or composite wood products, they do require diligent maintenance to prevent them from deterioration, weathering and rot. Wood soffits are generally the most expensive kind. However, well-maintained wood soffits look great and can last a long time.

Vinyl Soffit

Vinyl soffit, including other kinds of plastics, is probably the most common because it is the least expensive and needs little or no upkeep. While vinyl and UPVC soffits don’t possess the longevity of other soffit materials, they can last up to 20 years depending on climatic conditions before they need replacing. Vinyl soffits have the added benefit of resisting weather elements since they are not prone to rot and other molds.

Aluminum Soffit

Aluminum soffit is extremely attractive and very durable. It is very effective at repelling moisture that can build up and eventually lead to rot. Aluminum soffits are popular with homeowners who don’t want to deal with pealing paint issues or rapid deterioration. They also provide a home’s exterior with a crisp, modern appearance.

Most types of soffits are available in a wide range of colors that can be matched to the roof and/or trim of your home. A professional exterior finishing company hired to install standard soffit can also advise you on whether or not you will require vented soffit, as well.

About Soffit

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.