What the heck is “soffit” and what kind do I need?

Red matched vinyl soffitTo put it simply soffit is the covering of the overhang from your roof.  Walk out your front door at look straight up that is your soffit.

There are three common soffit types Wood(not much anymore),  Aluminium (still very common), and Vinyl.  Since this is a vinyl siding site we will explore some of the different vinyl soffits on the market their styles etc.  Additionally, we will talk about the right and wrong ways to install soffit and give you our recommendations.  Most all vinyl siding manufacturers offer a matching soffit system to complement.  Some even offer color matched coil stock for trimming or making gutters to complement.  For more information on gutters check out our sister website www.researchgutters.com

Picture Type Description Price
Solid Soffit Non Ventilated Standard Panels This and it’s matching panel our the most popular styles of vinyl siding available for purchase. Probably because it is so inexpensive.  Typically found in 12ft section that you cut down in order to fit the depth of your overhang. Interlocking or overlapping panels.  For anything over 3 Feet deep we highly recommend you purchase a reinforced product for rigidity such as the Charter Oak soffit from Alside. $.50-$4 / Square Foot
Vented Soffit Vented Standard Panels Basically the same panel as above but it has holes in it for ventilation.  While this is not bad there are better alternatives on the market now with a more pleasing look that also have a lesser chance of clogging such as the Hidden Ventilation panels. $.50 – $4 / Square Foot
Hidden Ventilated Soffit Hidden Ventilation Panels Really we fell this should be the starting point for a quality retrofit.  The slits or ventilation holes are in the recess’s or grooves on the panel so they are not readily visible.  Additionally this type of soffit tends to be more rigid and thicker.  The channels help catch and create more airflow.  1ft of soffit is equal to 1 square foot of net free area. $4-$6 / Square Foot
Beaded Soffit Beaded Soffit Panels For those looking at Colonial Beaded siding this is a great fit for that style of architecture.  We also see the solid version of this panel as a very nice look in large covered porches.  You can get the ventilated style of this which is very nice for helping blend the entire aesthetic. These also tend to be heavier duty but watch out for fakers. $4 $6 / Square Foot
Chamferboard Soffit Chamferboard Soffit Sometimes we see this more traditional wood look alike panel.  It is very thick vinyl and also often used as a vertical siding solution.  Some manufactures have realized that people want something different and started offering this as a soffit panel with a vented version available as well.  Very sturdy and nice sleek but strong look. $2-5 / Square Foot


Vented or Non-Ventilated Soffit Panels – What you need and what to watch out for.

Most homeowners will want to purchase continuous vented soffit panels in order to reach the recommended roofing ventilation standards required by most manufactures for airflow.  This is one of the most important things to consider especially if you live in cold climates and get ice dams or the such.   The most common existing soffit was either wood or aluminium and are often grossly inadequate for total ventilation.  Many times you will see aluminum soffit panels in the common 3:1 ratio which was three solid panels and one ventilated(basically holes).  We don’t think this is a good idea and highly recommend continuous ventilation products. You will see below some different styles of which our top recommendation is the hidden ventilation panels for looks and performance.

***A quick note about upgrading from wood soffits to vinyl soffits.  One common mistake that is made is to simply cover the wood with vinyl, however this blocks to ventilation in all areas excepts where there were pre-existing vents.  Even cutting holes every so often is usually inadequate. Bite the bullet now and just rip them out, you will be happier in the long run.    OK on the some types of vinyl soffit on the market today.