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Exterior Home Remodeling - Soffit

Exterior soffit is the overhangs around the outside of a home including beneath the roof at the base of the
exterior walls, underneath porches and below cantilevered parts of the house.  Some soffit areas are functional and
should promote intake of outside air and other parts should be sealed for better comfort and energy efficiency. 

Soffit Locations

Exterior soffit information
This duplex has it all!  Soffit at the eave, on the gable side, under the portico and a 6" upper floor cantilever.

Soffit Around the Outside of a House
Soffit can be found in a number of places around the exterior of a home and it should not go unnoticed for a long period of time.

1. Soffit at the Eaves: Soffit at the eaves of a home should paid close attention to and in particular - how they are connected to the attic.  Most houses built in Maryland have soffit that is open to the attic for air intake (organic attic ventilation method).  Replacing soffit at the eaves should be considered as part of a comprehensive attic retrofit plan.

2. Soffit at the Gable Ends: Some house styles have large overhangs on the gable side of the house (triangular end).  Generally this is decorative in nature and should be considered when replacing soffit around the home, but an insightful contractor will point out that vented soffit is not required in those areas to save a customer any unnecessary additional costs associated with soffit that is vented.

3. Porch Soffit: Any ceiling area around the outside of the home is considered an area that can be outfitted with soffit.  Vinyl soffit, or any type of soffit product under porches, car ports, screened in decks or porticos can transform the look of the space and it is maintenance free so painting is no longer necessary as an upkeep expense.

4. Cantilever Soffit: A cantilever is another important area of the home that should not be overlooked when it comes to considering soffit projects around the home.  A cantilever is generally a living space that protrudes beyond the foundation creating a living space over air and if not insulated properly it will create a thermal bypass causing comfort issues inside the home as well as high energy usage in some cases.  If you are considering soffit for a cantilever, consider what treatment needs to be done before-hand so that any considerations for insulation do not get done out of order and add to overall costs.

Possible Soffit Pitfalls
Insulating Cantilevers - when replacing or installing soffit as part of a larger siding project around a house, the function of each of the soffit areas (overhangs) should be considered in order to avoid certain pitfalls, particularly if a home is having comfort issues or high energy bills.  

Take note of the soffit areas around your home and consider what they are connected to before you do any work to the area.  For soffit cantilevers, strong consideration should be given to insulation prior to adding any soffit product so that once the soffit work is done, it is not necessary to take it down to treat the area above it with insulation.

Take this house to the right as an example of how to avoid pitfalls.  Another pitfall to be mindful of is the configuration of the attic as it relates to the ventilation system in place.  In this example, the home is inadequately vented in the attic space without having to do any calculation.  The soffit areas are solid wood with no venting.  There is a ridge vent at the top of the roof, however the gable vents on each side of the home are too small to allow enough air intake to sufficiently vent the attic.  This owner of this house is likely experiencing higher than normal energy bills and uncomfortable indoor temperatures, particularly in summer.

Soffit Should be Part of the Overall Plan
A residential home is complex system.  When considering installing vinyl soffit or repairing soffit areas around the home, it is important to think about how your decision may effect your comprehensive attic retrofit plan.  Having a solid plan to make the home more efficient and comfortable heavily involves the attic and the soffit area at the eaves.

Before getting started, it is important to know about the different areas around the home where soffit products and solutions can be installed.

How sofft at the eaves works
This basic diagram shows the organic cycle of attic ventilation and the soffit is a key part.

Attic Ventilation - Baffles
The soffit connects to the attic and a comprehensive attic retrofit plan includes determining the way in which the attic in a home is currently configured for ventilation. If soffit intake is in use or is planning to be put into use, baffles must be in place or installed in the future insulation in the attic exists or more will be added. 

Don't pay for ventilation holes only to find that the insulation in the attic is blocking the area or add insulation without baffles in the future.

A completed gutter, soffit and fascia project. They are all connected.

The Fascia - Gutter - Soffit Interaction
The fascia board, soffit and gutter all are connected.  Not knowing this could end up costing you either money, time or a system that is not completely sealed.

Gutters can be installed directly to fascia, but seamless gutters cannot be removed should additional work ever be done to the soffit or fascia.  

We want to help you avoid purchasing new gutters and failing to consider what the future holds for the soffit and fascia board. 

Don't fall victim to the "next day gutter" solution.  Fast is not always the way to go when considering replacement gutters.  Soffit and fascia are equally important to consider. 

Remember, your house is a system that works together with other parts.  Older homes require important decisions that do actually have some impact on future decisions.  This is particularly true for soffit areas of the home.  They often go unnoticed and they should not.

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