What Is the Difference Between Soffit and Fascia?

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Both soffit and fascia are an integral part of the finished work in all residential construction, and the type of materials used will determine how much maintenance will be required to keep them looking new.While professionals like you already know the difference, many homeowners don’t. This article covers the difference between soffit and fascia, how to convince homeowners about the importance of installing both, and the best material option for long-lasting curb appeal and peace of mind when installing soffit and fascia — all explained in a way you can use to help homeowner customers understand your work.

4 Important Differences Between Soffit and Fascia

1. Location

When explaining the difference between soffit and fascia to a homeowner, the first step is helping them understand where on the home it is. You know fascia is the exposed horizontal board located at the end of the roof’s rafters, while soffit is located underneath the eaves and fascia, but most of that means nothing to a homeowner.

Having an image like the one below can help illustrate the difference to homeowners, making the rest of your conversation easier for both you and them.

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2. Purpose

The next step in talking to homeowners is to explain the purpose of each item. Here’s an easy way to explain them:

  • Fascia helps support the roof decking where it spans between rafter ends, serves as an added method of keeping the rafters in line and supplies a solid backing for gutter installation. Fascia is also a decorative element of the home and creates a finished look for the edge of the roof.
  • Soffit is used to keep rain- and snow-type elements out of your roof, but still allow for proper airflow. It can be both ventilated and non-ventilated, and most homes use a combination of both. The ventilated style provides airflow into and out of the attic area, allowing it to properly breathe and prevent moisture build-up that can damage the roof, while the non-vented style is typically used in conjunction with vented panels to help strategically control the flow of air into the attic space.

3. Installation

Today’s homeowners tend to be very involved in all installation processes, so you should be prepared for questions while you are working. Or, if you want to head off the mid-installation questions, explain the installation ahead of time, using language like this:

  • A fascia board is installed after the roof rafters or trusses are fastened in place. Depending on the size of the rafter, a 1x6 or 1x8 board is aligned with the top of the butt cut on the overhang and nailed to the rafter across the length of the home. Fascia covers the end of the soffit and helps secure the end of the soffit to the home.
  • Soffit is installed between the inside of the fascia and the exterior of the home during the siding phase of construction. It is attached to the bottom of the fascia board and inserted into a starter strip on the exterior wall of the home.

4. Style

Once you’ve explained what fascia and soffit are, why they are important and how to install them, you’ll need to work with your homeowners on what material and style to choose. There are plenty of options these days, and homeowners can easily get overwhelmed with making the right decision. Steer them to the material options you know will work well.

Fascia can either be painted, stained or covered with a maintenance-free product like aluminum.

Soffit can be wood, fiber cement or aluminum. Wood and fiber cement must be painted to keep from rotting while aluminum is virtually maintenance-free.

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Why Use Aluminum Fascia?

Homeowners should know that the most important reason to install aluminum fascia is that it protects the underlying wood from water and weather damage. An additional benefit is that it adds to the home’s curb appeal by providing another surface that can be used to add color and contrast to the exterior of your home. While there are some architectural designs that do not use fascia or soffit, such as the Craftsman style home, most homes have both.

Why Should You Install Soffit?

Soffit gives a home a completed look by closing in the otherwise exposed rafter ends. But that’s not the most important reason to use soffit.

The ventilation provided by the vent holes on vented soffit lets the attic breathe, preventing damaging ice dams, mold and rot in the attic due to poor airflow. Proper airflow in the attic can also help manage energy costs. You should ensure the proper ratio of vented to non-vented panels for the correct amount of ventilation.

Plus, the soffit panels are a deterrent to insects, birds or other animals that might nest in the cavities between the exposed rafters and keeps out inclement weather.

3 Material Options for Fascia and Soffit

Help your homeowner customers choose the best material for fascia and soffit using the pros and cons we’ve put together below:

1. Wood

Wood is a beautiful, traditional option that homeowners love the look of. Because wood fascia must be painted or stained after it is installed, you can match it to any color or aesthetic. However, the additional step of paint or stain does add to material and labor costs.

Due to its location at the edge of the roofline, it is exposed to a great deal of moisture from rain and snow, possibly resulting in warps, splits and cracks. Exposed wood is also vulnerable to insect attacks as well as fungus and mold.

Wood soffit suffers from the same problems as the fascia, with one additional negative feature: It is heavy and requires more support than other types of soffit such as aluminum. It is also difficult to caulk and paint during ongoing maintenance as it is a horizontal overhead surface.

2. Vinyl

Vinyl is sold in pre-formed panels for both soffit and fascia. It is available in smooth or wood grain, and comes in a wide variety of colors so, again, homeowners can get the look they want. It’s also lightweight, making it easy to install, which can save on labor costs.

However, it has a strong tendency to form waves or ripples during extreme heat, causing an unsightly appearance. Over time, vinyl has a tendency to fade in the direct sun and may require replacement.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum fascia and soffit provide crisp lines and colors that are fade-resistant, and easily custom fit by installers in the field. Aluminum is lightweight, and it is also easy to maintain as it only requires occasional cleaning with your garden hose. Plus, the color selection means your homeowners don’t have to sacrifice style in order to get the durability they deserve.

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How To Find the Most Durable Home Exterior Products

Alsco provides a complete line of innovative aluminum products including trim coil, roofing and siding accessories, and gutter parts. We have a limited lifetime warranty on our complete line, so you can be assured that you’ve made a sound purchase from the start. We offer a range of colors so every homeowner and builder can find the perfect color to complement your design scheme.

Alsco has been helping customers since 1947. Contact us today for more information, and let us help you finish your next project.