The best way to add fascias and soffits to your home
In architecture fascia is any flat horizontal member or moulding or any relatively narrow vertical surface which is projected or cantilevered or supported on columns or element other than a wall below. In layman's term fascia boards are the horizontal boards that are attached at the end of rafters at the exterior of a building which are used to hang rain gutters or guttering.
A soffit is the exposed under surface at any overhead component of a building such an arch, balcony, cornice, beam, cornice, lintel or vault. In layman's term soffit is the finished surface below the fascia. A soffit is also called an eave.
Fascia board and soffit are integral part of a house's drainage system. This is so because fascia board hold the guttering of a building while the soffit is the finishing materials under the fascia boards. Fascias and soffits need to be waterproof to some extent because damp and moisture can seriously damage fascia boards and soffits.
Choosing the Right Materials
It is best to choose fascia board and soffit materials that are water-resistant to a point, maintenance free and aesthetically pleasing. There are various materials that you can select as fascias and soffits. Wood has been the preferred material for fascia board while soffits were mostly finished with marine plywood. Currently there are a lot of materials available for use as fascias and soffits. Engineered wood i.e. MDF (medium density fibreboard) is gaining popularity as an alternative material for fascias and soffit as this type of wood is structurally sound and is more resilient to water. Vinyl and aluminium are also popular options for fascias and soffits as the two materials are almost maintenance free aside from being water resistant.
Vinyl fascias are available in basic colours. If you are very particular about the colour of your fascia, you can special-order vinyl or you can consider installing treated and sealed wood for the fascia and paint it with your preferred colour. However, sealed and treated wood only has a lifespan of four to five years in wet climate. If you live where winters are bitter and cold, vinyl might be your best option because the material retains heat and is resistant to weathering.
For soffits, available materials are marine plywood, MDF, vinyl, and aluminium. As the soffits or eaves are generally small protrusion below the fascia boards, it is best to get a material that is highly water resistant because directly above the soffit is the guttering or the roof. Rain water that leaks in the roof or guttering system will directly wet the soffit. Most homes are installed with either aluminium or vinyl soffits or eaves.
Installing Fascia Board
Setting up fascia boards and soffit is not really hard. If you are a regular DIY-er and are not afraid of heights, you can install or replace your old fascia and soffit. You must understand that you don't have to change both soffit and fascias if both have not deteriorated. If you only need to change the fascias, then there's no need for you to change the soffit just because and vice-versa.
- Before you start with the installation, make sure that you have the necessary tools and materials for the work at hand. This would save you time and effort. You need your wood fascia board, a table saw, and plane, and power nailer, crimper for the metal sheets, compound mitre saw, clamps, plumb, and chalk line. Ensure that you have properly built and safe scaffolding.
- Install the roof sheathing then the fascia board. Note that the ends of rafters are not always perfectly aligned. To avoid wavy fascia boards, snap a chalk line on the wall around the house corresponding to the roof perimeter. The chalk line should mark the bottom end of the rafter tails to guide you in attaching the fascia board. You can opt to install a subfascia to ensure a more levelled and straight fascia board. You can choose a 1"X 4" or 1"X6" treated and sealed wooden board for the fascia.
- What kind of roof are you currently working on? The roof style of the house directly affects the installation procedure of the fascia. If the roof is hipped, then you can directly attach the board into the rafter. If the roof is gabled, you might need additional markings to ensure proper rafter fit.
Installing the Soffit
- After attaching the fascia board, you can now start to nail in the soffit joists for a new construction. Begin by snapping a chalk line on the exterior wall of the house. The chalk line should match with the bottom end of the rafter. This is the guide in which to attach the 1"X4" wood ledger.
- Attach the wood ledger by nailing it to the wall. Make sure that the bottom of the ledger hits the chalk line.
- From the rafter tails, nail 2"X4" wood joists toe-nailed to the ledger board to create framing at 600 mm on centre. If you wish, you can also use joist hangers to attach the soffit joists to the ledger.
- Measure the cut the soffit material, in this case exterior grade plywood, to the width and length of the soffit. Make sure each cut piece is in increments of 2s for the nailers.
It is recommended to choose a fascia board whose depth is sufficient for the type of roofing material that your house have. A too shallow fascia board will collapse in case of heavy roofing material like clay tiles. When in doubt about fascia and soffit installation, then it would be best to hire a professional.