One of the most important parts of any house is the roof. It is the roof that keeps the interior of the property dry when it rains or snows. The roof is also expected to keep the heat inside the property and the cold out. The consequences of a faulty roof can be serious and expensive, so it pays to ensure that it is properly constructed in the first place and kept in a good state of repair thereafter.
The traditional roof consists of various separate features but in this article we will be concentrating upon one specific roofing solution – the soffit.
What are Soffits?
Although, in this article, we are looking at them in the context of roofing solutions, soffits are actually present in other parts of a building, where they can be found on the underside of any element. Therefore, soffits can be located beneath ceilings, stairs, arches and cornices.
By far the most common kind of soffit, however, is the one which is located in the section beneath the eaves of the roof, on the exterior of the property. The soffit runs from the side of the walls outside the house to the edge of the eaves and serves to shut down the space underneath.
Issues that Affect Soffits
The principal damage that can be caused to a building’s soffits is by the weather. In fact, the soffit is more likely to be adversely affected by weather than any other part of the house. The main cause of soffit damage is blocked or improperly functioning gutters. Gutters should therefore always be kept clear of leaves, dirt and other debris to ensure that the soffit is kept in good working order.
Soffits can also be damaged by birds and squirrels. If they are able to get behind the soffit to make a cosy nest they will do so, often causing an irretrievable breakdown in the soffit in the process.
Because of the adverse consequences associated with a breakdown in a property’s soffits, it is important to carry out a regular visual inspection of them, not least as the damage may not become immediately apparent within the interior of the property until a later stage.
Different Types of Soffit
The majority of older properties will have been constructed with wooden soffits. The main attraction of a soffit of wooden construction is that it is likely to be pleasing to the eye and will blend in with the overall appearance of the property. The soffits can be painted in colours to match the other exterior woodwork on the doors and windows. The major downside of wooden soffits is that they tend to rot and, consequently, require regular maintenance as well as frequent treatment and repainting.
Far more durable than wood, the aluminium soffit is becoming more and more popular as the preferred roofing solution for many householders. With a lifetime of around forty years in rural and suburban areas and twenty five years in industrial or seaside locations, these soffits are weatherproof, lightweight and can be recycled. Most aluminium soffits can also be purchased with a polyester powder covering in a wide range of colours.
Vinyl soffits are becoming popular as a replacement for wooden soffits that have broken down. Light, relatively inexpensive and reasonably long lasting, vinyl soffits require very little maintenance. Combining the appearance of painted wood with the durability and lower maintenance of vinyl, this type of soffit is also available in various finishes. It is also possible to have a vent inbuilt into the soffit to keep moisture out of the house, whilst at the same time providing ventilation.
Although the soffit is a reasonably simple part of a property’s construction, if it does not protect the exterior of property effectively, untold damage can be done to its interior. Keeping a careful check on the condition of a property’s soffits and repairing or replacing them when needed should prevent this from happening.