Understanding Soffit Material Options to Best Protect Your Home from the Elements

The corner of a home with beige, tiled soffit under a black fascia.

As a builder, you know the importance of soffit. Soffit are the pieces of a home’s exterior that covers the underside of a roof’s overhang. Soffit helps hide rafters and protect the home from damage.

However, not all materials are created equal. As a result, some soffit material options are better than others. Today, we’re looking at the most popular options for soffit materials and their pros and cons so you know which soffit material is best for your next project.

4 Popular Soffit Material Options

There are four primary options for soffit materials. They are wood, fiber cement, vinyl and aluminum. Let’s take a brief look at each material.

1. Wood

Wood is a beautiful and classic building material that can be found in many areas of a home’s exterior including soffit. Wood soffit has an unmistakable texture and grain, making them a visually appealing option for many homeowners. Additionally, if the homeowners aren’t fans of the look of natural wood grain, wood soffit can be painted to match virtually any existing aesthetic.

However, wood requires a lot of upkeep and care. Wood is more susceptible to rot, insect damage, fire damage, splintering and more. As a result, homeowners will have to do a lot more maintenance to keep their wood soffit looking good and functioning properly — they need re-painting to keep them looking new and fresh.

Wood soffit also doesn’t last as long as other soffit material options. Even if they’re well-maintained, they will need to be replaced more frequently, so homeowners need to check them yearly for damage and replace/repair pieces.

2. Fiber Cement

Fiber cement is a human-made material composed of sand, cellulose fiber, silica and cement. Like fiber cement siding, fiber cement soffit is incredibly durable. It also does an excellent job at resisting insects, rotting, and — most importantly — fires, making them a safer alternative than wood soffit. Choosing soffit in this material also allows for choosing different colors and designs to add aesthetic value to a home.

On the other hand, fiber cement is a difficult material to work with. It requires more intensive labor and special tools. As a result, it’s a more expensive material option for homeowners. It’s also incredibly heavy, so some homes might not support its weight. In addition, fiber cement doesn’t have very many insulative properties, meaning it won’t do much to provide extra insulation to the home’s attic. Last but not least, fiber cement is also porous, so we recommend against this material choice in wet or humid climates.

3. Vinyl

Vinyl is one of the most popular options for soffit materials, thanks to its affordability and versatile style. It’s much more durable than wood and easily resists rot and insects. In addition, vinyl soffit is a lower-maintenance option since it comes pre-painted and won’t require homeowners to repaint them (where they would have to like with wood and fiber cement.)

The downside with vinyl soffit is that they’re susceptible to damage from cold weather, as they can crack in extremely low temperatures. Additionally, vinyl soffit doesn’t have as long of a lifespan as some of the other options on the list. Finally, while they’re cost-effective, many homeowners feel like vinyl looks too plastic and degrades the look of their home.

4. Aluminum

Aluminum is a strong and versatile building material that has been around for decades, so it’s no surprise that it’s also a material option for soffit. Aluminum soffit is available in multiple colors, profiles, sizes and gauges. It resists rot, fire and insects, and works well in all climates, making it an ideal choice no matter the home’s location. Aluminum is also relatively insulative, so aluminum soffit can help improve the overall insulation of a home’s attic.

Aluminum soffit is durable and long-lasting, so homeowners can have it installed and enjoy it for years to come.

What About Soffit Vents?

A close up of a white gutter with soffit vents and gray siding in the background.

Soffit vents help provide ventilation into a home’s attic, reducing energy costs, preventing overheating, prolonging roof shingles' lifespan and protecting contents stored in the attic. Soffit vents can be continuous or individual. Their function is to keep the attic properly ventilated.

Like soffit, the soffit vent can come in a variety of soffit material options. The pros and cons for each material are the same. Generally, you want your soffit vents to be the same material as the rest of the house’s soffit.

Why Alsco® Aluminum Soffit Is the Ideal Choice for Your Next Project

A two-story home with light tan siding, darker tan details, and white soffits.

Most homeowners want maintenance-free homes, and aluminum soffit is the best material choice to provide just that. Aluminum soffit is visually appealing, durable, low-maintenance and works well in every climate.

At Alsco, we’re proud to carry aluminum soffit panels and accessories as well as other home exterior products, like trim coil and roofing accessories. Whether you are a homeowner or a professional, our products work together to help achieve a beautiful, low-maintenance exterior on your next project.

Contact us today to locate a supplier in your area or talk with our customer service professionals for assistance.