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What are Soffits on a House: How do soffits protect your home?

A soffit is the covering on the exposed underside of the overhang of a roof. This exterior part of the roof is designed to force water away from the house’s walls, and the soffits are the part that protects it. You usually cannot see the soffits unless you are standing underneath the overhang part of the roof (also known as eaves).

The eaves protect the walls of the building from water damage when it rains. The soffit is the fixed underneath part of that area of your roof.


What are soffits on a house?

Soffit panels are the covers that cover the underbelly of the eaves that come from where your house siding meets the roof.

Your roofing system will have a part that hangs over the exterior wall capped with fascia and trim. That part will lead to the gutters, and the soffits are the under portion under that area of the exposed roofs rafters.

soffits on a house

What is the purpose of soffits?

The purpose of soffits is to protect the rafters and attic from the elements such as rain, snow, insects, and small animals like rodents and birds.

They are usually vented to allow proper airflow into the attic as part of a home’s ventilation system. In addition, they help release heat from your attic during the hot summer months.

They also regulate outside warm air from coming into the attic, which can cause ice damming in the winter months. Doing this helps eliminate moisture in the attic in the winter months, which in turn keeps things dry, cutting down the chances of mold and extending the life of the rafter and joists inside the attic.

Look wise; they add a nice finishing touch to the underneath of your overhang and prevent moisture and animals (like squirrels and birds) from getting into your attic.


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What is a soffit board?

The soffit board is the soffit panel that is hung by the rafter tails and soffit joists, which form a ceiling for a soffit.

There are usually three different types of soffit materials:

  • Wood soffit
  • Aluminum soffit
  • Fiber cement
  • Vinyl soffit (they even have wood grain finishes)

They can be solid or vented and run the length of the entire home.

Vinyl soffit material is the typical one used in new home construction in many areas of the country. This is because vinyl soffits are more flexible and can come in various styles and looks.

They are highly durable and add an excellent curb appeal to the underside of the rafters of a house while protecting the wood from rotting or damaging the home’s insulation.


What are soffit vents?

A soffit vent is used as part of the attic ventilation. If the soffit installed under your roof is solid, you may need to install vents to improve airflow and curb mold growth and wood rot.

The job of soffits is to channel hot air away from the house, allowing cool air to enter in its place. This prevents your attic from getting too hot and reduces energy consumption.


Where are soffits on a house?

Soffits on the house are the underneath part of the roof overhang that connect the edge of the roof and fascia board to the wall of the house.


Why are Soffits vented?

The soffit on a house are vented so that the air can enter the building and the roof and prevent ice dams in the winter and allow hot air to vent out of the roof in the hotter months.

These vents are a great way to release pressure from the upper levels of your home, but should only be used with other ventilation solutions.

what are soffits

What do Soffits Protect?

The soffit protects the rafters, which support the roof and allow airflow, as well as prevent animals from entering the attic space.  

They also protect the attic from condensation which can lead to ice damming in the winter when installed correctly.


Why do homes need soffits?

Homes need soffit panels for a variety of reasons, one is that it protects the rafters and wood in the attic space from moisture.

A home’s soffit panels also give a nice aesthetic look and avoids people from seeing the wiring, tubes, and other construction materials in building a house.


What do you need to maintain soffits?

Maintenance of this part of your house is fairly straightforward, but it can help to know what is involved, especially if you are selling your home.

Soffit maintenance is not very difficult; make sure all vents are clear of any debris and there are no leaks in the system which would cause mold growth.  It’s also wise to check that nothing has happened that could damage the soffit, such as a ladder bumping them damaging them when going on the roof.


What is Fascia

Fascia is the horizontal board that runs along the rafters creating an end piece to the roof. They are often covered in cladding and there is often a gutter system (or eavestrough) attached to them as part of a home’s water disbursement system (which helps move water away from the home).

Learn more about them in our “What is Fascia” article.


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What are Eaves?

Eaves are the section of the roof’s overhang that juts out from the wall and/or roof. It protects the front or back of your home.

An eave is covered with a soffit panel and the top part is the roof which is covered with plywood and shingles.


Soffits FAQ

Do roofers replace soffits?

Some roofers may replace soffits as part of their service. Or they may have a company that they use to install the soffit, gutter, and fascia board around your house.


Do soffits lead to the attic?

Yes, when properly vented soffits lead to the attic.


What type of board is used for soffits?

There are four main types of soffit materials Wood soffit, aluminum soffit, fiber cement, and vinyl soffit.


Is it OK to not have soffit vents?

It’s best to have some type of venting in your soffits depending on where you live, to prevent moisture build-up and allow heat to escape a properly vented attic is a homeowner must-have.


How do you know if you have soffit vents?

The easiest way to tell if you have a vented soffit is to walk around the house and look for vents in the soffits or if they are just solid wood-like fiber cement or wood panels.


Final Thoughts about Soffits as a part of the roof system of a home

As homeowners, there is always a lot we don’t think about when it comes to our homes. Knowing what soffits are can help you know why you have them and why you need them. Airflow isn’t something most people talk about.

Apart from the nice finishing touches to your rafters, they are an important part to keep the outside air from entering the attic and when properly ventilated can reduce moisture issues in your home.


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