What is Soffit? What is Fascia?

Many clients have asked us what soffit and fascia refer to on their homes. While most people understand what siding refers to, the phrase soffit and fascia is not as commonly understood unless one works in the building trades.

Simply put, the soffit refers to the under-hang area immediately beneath the roofline, adjacent to the exterior house or building wall. It is also commonly referred to as the “overhang” of the roof. Another way to think about it is that it relates to the bottom section of a roof that extends past the exterior house wall.

If one was to observe the underside of that roof section from the ground; they would be staring up at the soffit. The soffit area of most modern homes today are usually clad with aluminum or wood. A soffit can either follow the contour of the roofline itself or be designed with a flat profile that returns back to and terminates at the exterior house wall.

The purpose of the soffit on a building is to create a detail of the roof that permits water shedding off the roof to run past an exterior building wall.

In association with any sloping roof and some configurations of flat roofs, there is a structural detail referred to as the fascia (or fascia board), as interchangeable terms.

The fascia board is located at the base of a series of rafters, on the bottom-most edge, or rake edge of a sloping roof. A fascia board and soffit detail can also be found on a flat roof where there exists an open water-shedding edge detail on one or multiple sides of the flat roof.

So fascias and soffits work in tandem as a completed roof edge detail.

An enclosed soffit detail can also be utilized as an intake pathway for ventilation of a roof’s attic space.

It is most common to find on homes constructed over the past thirty years; that the soffits and fascias are clad in aluminum. The purpose is two-fold. Installing aluminum cladding provides for a relatively maintenance-free exterior, which eliminates the need for painting such areas.

The aluminum cladding also can help protect bare wood beneath its surface from deteriorating. A third benefit is that it helps resist the intrusion of birds and small animals such as raccoons and squirrels; although it does not eliminate the possibility of such critters gaining access if they are determined to do so.

The aluminum cladding which is used to cover the soffit portion of a home consists of individual interlocking panels that are cut by the installer to the width of the overhang itself. The aluminum soffit panels are designed to have a rectangular, corrugated profile and are manufactured as a solid panel version or as a panel which has perforations for the purpose of introducing fresh, intake airflow into the home’s attic space.

In combination with roof vents located near the top of a roof; vented soffit panels represent the entry point for air which is drawn up through the attic space and helps exhaust hot moist, attic air out through a series of roof exhaust ventilators. The concept that makes this phenomenon work is referred to as convection.

The combination of intake and exhaust through an attic space is necessary to allow a home’s heating and cooling system to work more efficiently, particularly in light of increased volumes of attic insulation. It further serves to help eliminate condensation build up, winter frosting on the underside of roof decks and forms part of a strategy to help avoid ice damming perils.

As a result, many older homes that originally had wooden soffits and fascias are retro-fitted with cladding of aluminum soffits and fascias for the reasons just discussed.

When thinking about fascia boards, which are typically nailed to the rafter tails that protrude beyond the home’s exterior walls; consider that they provide a solid backing for the installation of roof gutters ( eaves-troughs).

Aluminum soffit panels, fascia cladding, and aluminum gutters are all produced in a host of complimentary colours from several manufacturers, to result in a uniform, and low-maintenance finished appearance for this area of the home.

When installing aluminum soffit panels on a home’s under-hang; such panels are secured at the exterior house wall by means of an aluminum channel trim referred to as a “J” molding. The soffit panel slides into the trim piece at the wall and is retained at the opposing side by aluminum fascia cladding which has an “L” bend incorporated into its profile. All such materials are secured using aluminum screws.

On certain older homes and custom build homes; wooden soffits and fascias are used to maintain a heritage appearance or to restore an original design aesthetic.

In such instances, soffits are often finished by using tongue and groove cedar or pine boards and can be stained or painted as the homeowner may choose. The finished appearance looks classic and reflects craftsmanship in the finished appearance. Such installation is typically completed by carpenters as opposed to aluminum installation technicians as with the aluminum option.

In association with the installation of soffits, many homes have an architectural detail or details referred to as freize boards and or freize moldings. One can think of this as an exterior version of a crown molding detail.

The freize boards and or freize moldings are located immediately below the soffit. Such details can be constructed of wood, and they can also be clad with aluminum capping material to improve maintenance.

Installation of all such products provides an opportunity to modernize or upgrade the exterior appearance of the home. In Canada, manufacturers such as Englert®, Kaycan™, Gentek™ and Royal™ produce a variety of siding, soffit and fascia cladding materials along with associated rain ware products in complimentary colours. You are encouraged to visit their respective websites to see examples of available products and to utilize their designer imagery technology which allows the user to upload photos of their home and experiment with various products and colours, in order to see what the finished appearance can be on their home.

Since 1974, AVENUE ROAD ROOFING® has supplied the GTA with exterior cladding, siding, soffits, fascias and gutters along with exterior carpentry services to create or restore a beautiful and virtually maintenance-free exterior for homes, heritage properties, and commercial buildings.

To learn more about aluminum soffits, fascias, rain ware and exterior carpentry; along with all other traditional roofing services, visit: www.avenueroadroofing.com  or view us on YouTube™.