“Yeah, I can do that” has become a commonplace phrase as unemployment has soared and the market has generated a surplus of unlicensed handymen. One day they are installing carpeting and the next day they tell you they’re an expert installing soffit.
So how do you know what is the right way to do things and what is the wrong way to do them? To make an informed decision you have to first define what your goals are and what you wish to accomplish.
Making your home maintenance free, reducing long term costs, enhancing attic ventilation and reducing or even eliminating attic moisture and ice damming can be accomplished with a quality soffit installation from a responsible contractor.
DO: Select a licensed contractor who has installed soffit in the past.
DO: Make sure your contractor sells a vented soffit. If they do not offer a continuously hidden vented soffit, make sure they install vented panels at a minimum of once every 8 to 10 feet.
DO: Make sure that additional venting is cut into wooden soffits. This is a step that many contractors will skip but it is absolutely critical to properly functioning attic ventilation that this be done. If it is not, your project will be worth little more than window dressing.
DON’T: Select a contractor who simply throws you a low ball price. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
DON’T: Contract to have soffit put on if your contractor cannot explain how it works.
DON’T: Accept an agreement without understanding if the soffit will be vented and whether it will be aluminum or vinyl.
DON’T: Accept a contractors handshake agreement.
In order to understand what properly installed soffit and fascia is, you must understand how your goals can be achieved.
Attic ventilation, when properly done, allows heat to escape through either a ridge vent in a roof or else gable vents. Think of proper ventilation as you would think a well functioning chimney. Heat rises and the lowest point is where a “draft” is created. You’ll need a low point (vented soffit) where air can get in and the high point (roof venting) where it can escape. Heat is drawn up to the high point and cool air releases the pressure so that the hot air can escape. Proper ventilation increases the life of an asphalt roof, reduces cooling bills in the summer and allows moisture to escape from the attic in the winter.
Properly installed soffit and fascia consists of three key parts. The J-channel which goes next to the vertical walls of your home, the soffit material which is then tucked into the J-channel and interlocks and is adhered with each subsequent piece installed, and finally the fascia which finishes off the face. If your fascia board is wider than 4 inches the installer should use a stress bend to reduce or eliminate a wavy fascia.