When it comes to the roofs on buildings it is essential that they are well designed and constructed as they have to face the elements every day of the year – for many years. The Soffit, fascias, and guttering are key components for this and they all work together to protect your home. Once they have been installed they should all be regularly maintained. Here we explain what soffit and fascias are and what are their differences.
What is a soffit?
Soffit is the protective covering that is fitted to the exposed underside of the roof where it overhangs the vertical walls of a building to protect them. The overhang itself is usually referred to as the eaves of a house. The soffit must be properly finished and fit the underside of the eaves perfectly. The term ‘soffit’ is an abbreviation of the phrase ‘something fixed underneath’. The soffit can be made from many different materials including cement, steel, aluminum, and in older properties, wood. Today, soffit is mainly made from UPVC as it is strong, durable, and easy to maintain.
What is the fascia?
The fascia is a decorative horizontal or angled board that runs along the entire lower edge of the overhang of the roof at the both front and rear of a house (eaves). The fascia is sometimes referred to as the ‘roofline’ as it is where the roof meets the outer wall. The fascia has several important roles to play. It is a long straight board that is fixed to the roof trusses and supports the last row of roof tiles. The fascia seals the interior of the roof space from the weather to prevent damp and also to prevent birds and mice from getting into the roof space to nest. The fascia also protects the ends of the rafters ensuring that do not absorb any water as this will cause them to rot.
The fascia must be strong because the guttering is securely attached to its upper edge. In the old days, the fascia was wooden and the guttering was made from cast iron. The weight that the fascia had to withstand when it was pouring with rain and the guttering was full of water was considerable. As the fascia is on the outer edge of the roof overhang it also helps to protect the walls of the building by deflecting rain, hail, and snow from them. The fascia is sometimes referred to as the ‘transition board’.
Soffit vs Fascia
If you want the best protection for your home, it is not a case of either fitting soffit or a fascia – but installing both as they will play a crucial role in protecting your home. Each has a slightly different role as the soffit is fitted underneath the overhanging eaves to prevent damp and humidity from getting into the attic space, whilst the fascia covers the outer edge of the overhanging eaves and protects the soffit and is also the surface on which the guttering is attached.
When is the soffit and fascia installed?
Both the soffit and fascia are mainly made from vinyl these days and they are both usually installed once the roof is in place but before the roof tiles or other covering is put in place.
In the last 20 years or so, wooden soffits, fascias and have been replaced with very low maintenance UPVC. This has proved to be the ideal material because UPVC is light in weight but incredibly strong so there is no chance that a fascia bearing the weight of water-filled guttering will distort or break.
UPVC soffit is available with ventilation slats that aid the circulation of air in the roof space, while UPVC fascias come in a variety of styles. Along with UPVC guttering, they are available in a wide variety of colors and also in several wood grain finishes which are perfect for older styled properties. Importantly, together they can transform the look of your home and definitely add to its kerbside appeal – and value.
Is maintenance of the soffit and fascia necessary
The soffit and fascia are both exposed to all types of weather all year through. They are exposed to sun, rain, humidity, strong winds, and frost. It is a good idea to check them twice a year in the spring and autumn to ensure that they are in a good condition and have not been damaged. Likewise, it is a good idea to check your guttering at the same time to ensure that it is in good condition and that it is not full of dry leaves which will affect its ability to effectively deal with heavy downpours of rain. Check your roof tiles too to ensure that they have not become dislodged in any way.
While you are up on a ladder checking the condition of everything, why not give the soffit, fascia, and guttering a wash? A bowl of warm soapy water should do the trick and it is amazing what a difference it will make to the overall appearance of your property.
Signs to watch out for:
It is really important to check your soffit, fascia, and guttering regularly because if you suspect a problem and find one, it is best to act quickly. If your house has a wooden fascia and soffit this is particularly important because if rainwater is getting in your roof space could be getting damp.
When you carry out your regular inspections it is best to get out the ladder so that you can examine the soffit, fascia, and guttering at close quarters. These are the telltale signs to look for:
- Any exposed roof timber
- Damaged or blistering paint
- Watermarks or discoloration of the paintwork
- Rotting, cracked, or broken wood
- Signs of animal activity such as droppings
If you have problems with your guttering and are having to replace it, the chances are that you will need to replace the fascia too.
Replacing the soffit and fascia
Many house owners decide to have a new vinyl soffit fitted over the original wooden soffit and this can be easily done as long as the wood is in good condition with no signs of damp. At the same time, it is easy to have new fascia boards and guttering installed
If you suspect that you have a problem developing with your soffit or fascia, it is best to contact your local roofing specialist promptly. One of their experienced builders will be able to make a thorough inspection of your roof and will be able to assess the problem and advise of the best solution. The good news is that you will be surprised at how reasonably priced it will be to get the problem speedily solved so you can enjoy many more carefree years in your home.