Your home is your pride and joy and keeping it in good working order is always a priority. Some parts of your property are less obvious in their purpose but still require maintenance to prevent issues down the line. For many, soffit and fascias fall into this category.
You may have had conversations about soffit and fascia replacements before. You may even have had a builder (or roofer) knock on your door advising that you get yours replaced. But in all honesty, do you even know what they are? And if you do, do you understand how important they are to your home? The problem is, if you don’t fully understand what they are, how can you know when they need replacing?
But never fear because we are here to help. In this article, we will explain exactly what a soffit and fascia is, why they are important to your home, how you know when they need replacing, how much a replacement will cost, and how you can ensure you get the best soffit and fascia specialist in Oxford to help you out.
Let’s get started.
What is a soffit?
A soffit is the exposed siding that fits underneath your roof’s overhang. In basic terms, it’s the skin that covers your eaves. Soffits can be found in any type of building from houses to garages to sheds. For pictures of soffits, check out this Google search here.
Soffits serve as both an aesthetic and functional part of the roofing system. Without soffit’s, you would be able to see into the roof space and beams would be exposed to weather and other elements that may damage them.
Soffits come in a variety of styles and colourings to suit your property and can be stylised to give character to your home. While they are difficult to see from the curb, they are visible when closer to the building and any wear and tear or damage will be visible.
In terms of the materials used, soffits can be made from wood, aluminium, or even plastic (uPVC). One of the key factors when choosing the right material for your soffits is the climate you live in. Constantly damp weather can rot untreated wood or cause metal to rust. Arid conditions (not likely in the UK I know) can have an equal impact on wooden soffits. Plastic is less prone to age (and looks great) but tends to be more difficult to replace if damaged and can be less durable.
Why are soffits important to your home?
Soffits are important because they protect your roof space from the elements while providing venting that keeps a steady airflow between your roof and home.
Having inadequate ventilation in your home and loft can lead to damp, mould growth, and even damage to the infrastructure of the building (things like wood and plasterboard can rot if they remain damp for too long). Mould, in particular, is known to create health issues and is never a great thing to see on walls and ceilings, especially if you are trying to sell the property.
The vent in soffits also allow heat to be released from your home during warmer summer months, keeping your home cooler when it’s warm outside. They can even keep animals and insects at bay. Bees and wasps in particular love to nestle inside the eaves of your property. By installing soffits on the overhang of your home, you are preventing them from accessing your roof space and ensuring your home doesn’t get invaded (just make sure your soffits don’t have holes or cracks for bugs to creep through)
What is a fascia?
Fascias and soffits are often confused for the same thing. And while they serve a similar purpose, there are a few vital differences between the two.
A Fascia is the area of the side of a roof that is directly above the soffit. From the curb outside your house, it is the exposed board that you see running horizontally along the underside of the roof where it overhangs the property. Just like soffits, fascias will be found on all types of buildings from houses, to garages, to sheds. For images of fascias, check out this Google search here.
The purpose of a fascia is to protect and seal the roof space from the elements. It will also support the roof tiles at the eaves level and provides a place to fix the guttering to the property. They also have a cosmetic purpose as they are much nicer to look at than exposed rafters. This makes it important to keep them in good shape, especially if you plan to sell your property at some point in the future.
In terms of materials, fascias can be constructed out of the same components as your soffits. Most fascias in the UK are made from wood but you can also find uPVC and aluminium on some properties.
Why are fascias important to your home?
A fascia is a long straight board along the lower edge of the roof and is the last line of support for the bottom row of roof tiles or shingles on your home. They also hold guttering in place so it can capture and route rainwater into drains where it won’t cause problems for your home.
Like soffits, fascias help seal the roof space to prevent weather, pests, and other destructive elements from entering. This can prevent damage from things like damp, mould, and insects.
A fascia, as mentioned previously, is also a visible part of the roof and the way it looks is important for the curb appeal of your property.
When should you replace a soffit and fascia?
The roof of your home, shed or garage is open to the elements all year round, so it is important to keep it in good condition. And while your roof includes many components (tiles, eaves, guttering, etc.), it is often the soffits and fascias that need replacing the most often.
All soffit and fascia boards will be made from sturdy material and are designed to withstand the weather and elements (although the mileage you get will depend on the materials they are made out of). Over time paint will peel, wood will rot, holes and cracks may develop, and guttering may peel away. While many of the problems with soffits and fascias can be repaired, there will be a time when a replacement is the only course of action. But how can you tell when this happens, and how regularly should you replace your soffits and fascias?
That’s not an easy question to answer. Most soffit and fascia panels will come with a guarantee for X amount of years (usually ten or more) but the exact time between replacements will depend on external conditions, the level of care they are subjected to, as well as the materials they are made from. Generally speaking, wood soffit and fascias will need replacing more regularly than metal or uPVC due to rot. Always check the documentation and guarantee that comes with your soffit and fascia panels for a rough guide of how long they will last.
Yes, but how do you know when they need replacing?
Most people will only consider a soffit and fascia replacement when they can see damage or wear and tear. But there are other factors to consider:
- The age of the soffit and fascia panels – The longer they’ve been installed at the property, the more likely it is that they will need replacing. It is important to understand that not all damage is visible to the naked eye and you may have to pay for a specialist roofer to assess condition.
- The material the soffit and fascia panels are made from – We discussed this earlier. The type of material used in the soffit and fascia panels will directly impact on their longevity. Our advice is to go with uPVC as it is far less susceptible to the elements than wood and metal and will generally last longer (but may not be as sturdy).
- The general condition of the roof – If your roof is in a state of disrepair, then you may need to hire a roofing specialist to improve its condition. If they recommend a part or whole roof replacement, it is often prudent to get soffit and fascia panels changed at the same time. This way all the parts of the roof will have the same age.
How do I know if my soffit and fascias are damaged?
The simple answer is to head outside and have a good look. Fascia panels can be seen relatively easily from the outside of your property. Soffits can be a little more difficult to judge. Get right up against your property or try looking (safely) out of your windows at the overhang of the roof. Use binoculars if you have them and check for things like:
- Cracks or splits on the panels – This is especially important if your soffit and fascia panels are made from wood.
- Holes – Make sure no holes have suddenly materialised in your soffit and fascia panels.
- Gaps in the joints between panels – This can happen with any type of soffit and fascia and is often caused by changes in the weather. Remember, gaps let in outside elements and pests.
- Evidence of rotting – Again, this is more likely to happen if the soffit and fascia panels are made from wood. Look for swollen, blackened, or damp looking patches.
- Evidence of pest infestation – Look for insects (bees, wasps, etc.) or their nests/hives.
- Leaks from guttering – Leaky guttering is often the result of a rotting fascia that can no longer support the gutter trough adequately.
- Signs of peeling or chipped paint – Peeling paint can often suggest that soffits and fascias are beginning to rot.
How much does a soffit and fascia replacement cost in Oxford?
That depends. The Oxford region is home to many great builders and roofers who charge a wide range of prices for their services. On average a good tradesman will charge roughly £100 per metre when replacing soffits, fascias, and guttering. Checkatrade.com have a handy guide on pricing here.
Soffit and fascia specialists in Oxford: How do I know I’m getting the right one?
If you’ve read any of our other articles, you’ll know we are great advocators of hiring local. Local builders and tradesmen understand Oxford properties and know where to source the best materials for your job. They can also get work completed quicker as they have less distance to travel to get to the job. But how do you know who to hire? Here are a few factors to take into consideration:
- Look for a builder/roofer with a recognised qualification – Having an NVQ or City and Guilds certificate in a building or roofing discipline will show they have the knowledge to complete the job to a high standard. You can find a searchable NVQ qualification database on the City and Guilds website here.
- Make sure the builder/roofer has valid insurance – Don’t assume your builder has insurance, always ask to see a certificate. If you don’t you could be liable for damage they cause to your home and its surroundings.
- Look for guarantees. Most soffit and fascia panels come with a guarantee. Your builder may also offer further guarantees on top of this.
- Look for a builder/roofer who is a member of a trade association. Being a member of a trade association is a badge of quality. Good trade associations for roofers include the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (website here) and the Confederation of Roofing Contractors (website here).
- Make sure you get a detailed and final quote. Most reputable roofers will provide you with a fully broken-down quote showing labour, materials, and any taxes. Our tip is to query whether the quote is full and final and whether any additional costs have been left out.
We’ve all heard of soffit and fascias but not many of us really understand what they are. We hope that with the help of this guide, you now realise how important they are to your roof and how you can replace them when they’ve come to the end of their life.