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What is a soffit, fascia and gutter?

Soffits, fascias and guttering all play an important role in keeping your home pest free and dry, but they are also highly important from an aesthetic point of view. Having sparkling soffits and fascias makes your home look far more attractive and appealing to buyers. If you are thinking of selling your home, then sprucing up the outside of your house is a good investment. Replace soffits and fascias that are old or worn helps to protect your roof and walls, preventing damp and water damage. Clean new gutters and ornate fascias can greatly increase the value of your home and will impress the surveyor too.

A beautiful red brick home with a dark brown conservatory.

Here’s our guide to all things roofline, including an overview of the roles of soffits, fascias and gutters which are the key elements in the modern roofline.

What is a Roof Soffit?

A roof soffit is a covering which sits between the outer edges of your roof and the adjacent wall of the house, protecting and sealing the rafter feet. If your roof has a soffit (not all do), you will be able to see it if you stand underneath the overhang of your roof and look up.

Modern soffits are usually made of uPVC. UPVC soffits and fascias are hardwearing and cope well with exposure to moisture. Wooden soffits are a popular rustic or period feature, but they are more likely to rot and decay quickly, threatening the integrity of the rest of the roof structure.

What are Fascias?

Fascias are traditionally a softwood board which is mounted to the exposed edges of your rafters, however, in recent years, this has been replaced with high-grade uPVC as softwood has a tendency to rot. The purpose of a fascia is to protect and seal the roof and the interior of your home from exposure to the elements, to support roof tiles at an eaves level and to provide support for the guttering. Fascias also serve a cosmetic purpose and are much nicer to look at than exposed rafters.

What is Guttering?

Guttering is used to collect rainwater from the roof and direct the flow of water as it drains. Gutters catch the water and direct it into the downpipes, and towards a drain. Guttering is fixed with the appropriate “fall” to prevent the water from pooling in places that it should not, which could eventually lead to your gutters overflowing, which is then likely to cause other problems.

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An Overview of Your Roofline

There are many parts which go into the edge of a roof, including:

A close up shot of the corner of the black gutting on a roof.

Bargeboard – The bargeboard provides a decorative finish to the gable end of your home, sealing the end rafters and the verge.

Box end – Forms the link between the fascia and the bargeboard on gable ends. All the fixings and rough edges are covered with trim, not only to look as neat and professional as possible but also to ensure that the roofline remains as secure and moisture resistant as possible.

Guttering – Collects rainwater from the roof and discharges it into the downpipes. All gutters are levelled and aligned to ensure that they have the correct fall, leading to the rainwater running in the correct direction and down the downpipe.

Fascia Boards – Protects and seals the rafter feet to prevent them from contracting any rot and it progressing up the rafters and into your roof. The fascia also supports the roof tiles and provides a fixing point and support for the guttering.

Soffit Boards – Soffit boards run across the underside of your roofline, with the purpose of protecting the underside of the rafter feet. The expanded core of the soffit is lightweight, whilst the highly polished surface acts as a seal to water damage.

Downpipe – Carries rainwater from the gutters and down into the drains. Should be screwed into the brickwork to provide a secure fix.

Sprockets – Sprockets are made to size on-site from uPVC and fixed securely and level to the rafter feet. This then provides a fixing point upon which to mount the fascia and soffit. Once aligned and levelled, the sprockets guarantee the fascia remains straight and true for years after the installation is complete.

Ventilation – Vents can either be cut into the soffit when manufactured or fixed to the top of the fascia board before it is installed which is likely to be the cheaper and neater option. Ventilation is essential to allow your roof timbers to breathe and prevent the build-up of moisture.

Roofguard Eaves Protector – Inserted under the bottom roof tiles, the eaves guard protects the often damaged bottom end of felt in your roof and curves into the guttering, preventing any rainwater running behind the fascia board or guttering.

Birdcomb – Installed where appropriate, this helps prevent birds from nesting in your roof, by blocking any voids which lie between the tile and top edge of the fascia.

Dry Verge – Dry verge can be installed to protect the verge area above the bargeboard on the gable and prevents you ever having to have this area re-pointed again.

What is the part under a gutter called?

The horizontal part underneath the gutter is called a soffit. It is fitted tightly under the guttering and the role of the soffit board is to protect the underside of the rafter feet from wear and tear from tough weather conditions.

The vertical part under a gutter is called the downpine. The pipes are aligned vertically downwards and their role is to take rain and debris to the ground floor level, and out of the guttering into the drainage system. Downpipes are also referred to as downspout, drain spout, roof drain pipe or a leader.

Common problems with fascias and soffits

Improperly installed soffits and fascias, or ones that are old and worn out, must be replaced to protect the integrity of your roof. Common signs of damaged soffits and fascias include:

Flaking and peeling paint – sanding and re-painting the affected area promptly can prevent further damage. This is a job which will have to be repeated year on year, as painted timber fascias and soffits will continuously flake and peel due to the extreme weather conditions they are subject to.

Rot and damp – Sections of rot and damp on your roofline are likely to spread quickly and can cause significant damage. If you notice that your roofline is starting to become rotten you should seek to have it replaced.

Leaking gutters – gutters can easily develop leaks if they are not cleaned frequently. Balls, leaves and other debris can clog up gutters, and during the colder months those pools of water freeze and expand, damaging the gutter.

In addition to the above problems, there are several other reasons why you might need to replace your soffits and fascias, including:

Asbestos – This is not a problem in new homes, however, any home built before the year 2000 could contain asbestos which was incredibly commonly used in homes built before the 1990s. Asbestos was used as a fire retardant, but it is an incredibly dangerous substance, and prolonged exposure to asbestos fibres can cause serious lung problems.

Infestations – many pests make their home in small damp spaces, and rotting fascias can be a home to many kinds of insects and rodents.

Birds Nests – birds frequently make their homes in the rafters and disused chimneys of homes. Many of those birds are protected species, so care must be taken when moving them. Seek professional advice before interfering with a bird’s nest.

Installing and fitting or replacing roofline productsA beautiful red brick home with a dark brown conservatory.

Installing or replacing soffits, fascias and guttering is a complex process which must be carried out by a professional installer. The existing roof felt and tiles must be inspected, the felt may need cut back or replaced if it is already damaged. Working on a roof can be dangerous for both yourself and your property. If you do not have the correct scaffolding, safety equipment and training there is a high risk of seriously injuring yourself when working at height.

Here is an installation guide featuring our Stormclad professionals.

The end tiles of the roof must be removed, and the rafters inspected to ensure that they are in good condition. Assuming the roof is generally in a good condition, the installer will fix sprockets to the rafter feet, to ensure that the fascia and soffit line up correctly to give your roof a smart, professional appearance.

Once the soffits and fascia are in place, guttering and ventilation can be installed. If you have profiled tiles on your roof, then you may opt to have bird combs installed to prevent small birds from gaining access to your roof space.

Once the soffit and bargeboard is installed on any gable ends your property may have, the box ends are fabricated to exact size on site. They must be measured and cut carefully to ensure that there are no unsightly gaps which might let water, or pests, into your home.

Installing soffits and fascias is not a DIY job. Not only is there a risk of personal injury, or damage to your home, there is also the possibility of finding asbestos in the existing roofing materials. Working with a professional company ensures that the job is completed safely and promptly, with minimum fuss.

A close up shot of the corner of the black gutting on a roof.

Choosing the best style of roofline product for your home

Traditionally, timber fascia and soffits would be installed; however, this merely creates a lifetime of difficult maintenance. You repeatedly have to be up a ladder to ensure the condition of the timber remains good through continual painting, treatment and repairs.

In recent years it has become common practice to install uPVC roofline as this needs far less maintenance than timber products and therefore is generally preferred to the timber option. UPVC roofline comes in many different styles, with different shaped moulded fascia, coming in different colours and effects. For instance, if you live in an old property and want to retain the authentic look, you can have great looking woodgrain effect products installed.

Guttering also comes in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so be sure to find out all your options rather than just square or round gutter in white or black.

Cost of new fascias, soffits and guttering 

The cost of soffits and fascias will depend on the size of your home and the products that you choose. One thing you can be confident of is that installing soffits and fascias will protect your home and make your property far more appealing.

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Stormclad also provides windows, doors, conservatories, and much more for homeowners in the East Midlands. Contact us today to begin your home improvement journey.