Soffit is an architectural term used to refer to the underside of any construction element. It may be the underside of an architrave, a roof’s overhang, a flight of stairs, a ceiling used to fill the space above the kitchen cabinets, an office ceiling or even the wall in a recording studio into which speakers are mounted.
You may have a lovely house, but the soffit board may be spoilt as it is among the first areas highly likely to succumb to weather-related problems. The soffit may begin to rot as a result of leaking roofs or animals such as birds and squirrels, which peck or chew through the eaves.
If you want to learn how to replace soffit, you can easily handle the task by following these steps:
1. Dispose of the Old Soffit
This may prove to be a risky task as most times it requires you to access the soffit using a ladder. As such, it’s best to ensure you have another person with you to handle the fascia boards and long gutters. Wear safety glasses while doing this to protect foreign material from getting into your eyes.
Use a pry bar to remove the gutter along the overhang while being careful not to damage the metal; then remove the fascia and moulding to reach the soffit. Inspect them for any damaged wood. Next, find the end of the spoilt soffit board and carefully pull away the entire strip. Be sure to get rid of all the nails left behind in the rafters to ensure the new soffit fits flat against the surface.
2. Examine the Eave
Removing the soffit and fascia allows you to identify where the rot begins. You may use a reciprocating saw to splice off any rotted rafter parts and replace them, if necessary, with mending braces. You should also clean the eave to remove any debris or bird’s nests that might attract pests.
3. Install New Materials
Begin with measuring the length and width of the new soffit board to ensure it has the right dimensions. Use a circular saw to cut the plywood panel into the right size, prepare and treat the edges with a coat of paste wax such as anchor seal to aid in wood preservation. Close up the eave and attach the new soffit to the rafters using nails, preferably a brad nailer.
Once this is done, paint the new board to give it a fresh look in tandem with the rest of the soffit. Soffit installation is relatively easy, even for a first timer. While at it, ensure proper ventilation to prevent the formation of ice dams at the eaves.
4. Replace the Trim
In case the gutter and fascia board have not been damaged by the weather, replace them on the eave. Confirm the fascia boards are of good quality and strong enough to hold the new fascia nails.
If the house has trim boards directly below the soffits, pull them out, unless their removal leaves the new soffit exposed. Re-paint all areas of the board, which have been scraped off, and re-attach the gutter while paying particular attention to the overhang shingle and the top edge of the gutter.
5. Attach Cleat
A cleat is a small wooden or metal bar, which can be fastened onto the damaged or new soffit board using a powder-actuated nailer to provide support for the new overhang. The cleat size may vary depending on the location of the soffit being corrected.
6. Material Options
When replacing worn out soffit boards, it is essential to consider the best material to use for the new soffits. While wooden products are highly recommended when redoing older homes, metal soffits have also become quite common.
However, vinyl is by far one of the most popular soffit materials. Owing to their variety of colours, perforations, which provide natural ventilation, little maintenance and the fact that they require little or no painting for finishing, metal and vinyl materials are preferred. The lengths of the soffits, as well as the receiving channels, are also set beforehand, allowing them to fit perfectly.
7. Cut Holes for Lights
Use a screwdriver to create circular openings in the center of marked circles to provide an entry point for soffit lights. Lights set back into the wall usually have adjustable wing-nuts. It’s also advisable to extend the ordinary electrical boxes with extension rings.
8. Soffit Corners on Hip Roofs
As the name suggests, these are pyramid-shaped roofs that slope from the eaves. Since the roof edges are all eaves, there are no flat soffits around the corners. You can fit soffit around such corners by installing back-to-back mitre dividers to handle the splice. Remember to counter-check the cuts on the panels to ensure they are at 45 degrees.
There you go; a simple 8-step guide on how to replace and maintain soffit boards to give your home that extra beauty at a considerable bargain price.