Soffits are one of those rarely seen or noticed pieces of a home that serve a very important function. Basically a covering on the underside of any type of construction, soffits protect and house crucial features that a home can't do without in some cases. There are different types of soffit in both material and design, and even though they are lowly, plain, home elements, you should know the difference if you are building or designing a home.
On older wood-clad homes the siding and soffit often match in either a cedar board or shake type wood material. Wood soffits can rot and deteriorate over time and can be replaced with newer products if you are changing the siding, or new wood put in place of the old. Wood soffits can be decorative, with tongue-in-groove construction or simply a flat, wood siding panel cut to fit the opening. Wood soffit venting depends on the local building codes in your area, however consider adding them if there are none to extend the life of your wood.
Metal soffits are installed with aluminum metal siding or sometimes on wood-sided homes. Since the soffit is not highly visible on wood homes, aluminum was sometimes used to save costs and for durability. Aluminum soffits comes presized in standard 16 inch to 24 inch pieces that can be cut and measured to your specifications on site, during installation. Aluminum soffits ares installed with channel type rails that the soffit is screwed or snapped to, depending on the system. Aluminum offers durability, is lightweight and has vented panels to help circulate air in the eaves and reduce roof rot.
Vinyl is a common, flexible and versatile soffit material. In premeasured panels the vinyl soffit is easily cut to fit, installs in a system with vinyl siding or on wood or brick homes, and comes in vented pieces as well. Vinyl soffits provide durability and a long material life, as well as a wide range of colors. One of the attractive elements to vinyl soffits is that they require no painting or maintenance other than the occasional cleaning. Installing vinyl soffit is not a difficult task and can be done by the average do-it-yourself homeowner.
The area below a ceiling and above cabinets, or the area where a ceiling cuts in and is boxed out is also soffit. Considered the underside of a ceiling area, these constructions generally house mechanical features. Soffits are used to assist in hanging cabinets in a kitchen, to hide plumbing or electric or ductwork in kitchens, finished basements and bathrooms. Often necessary to tie two rooms together soffits can also be used as a functional element. In some rooms, the soffit is built to install lighting and become a more important feature of the decorative aspects of the room.
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