What Is A Soffit?

When building or renovating a home there are lots of aspects to consider. The roof is one of the most important of these as it not only serves the practical purpose of keeping the interior of the building warm and dry but also serves an aesthetic purpose as well.

What Is A Soffit?

There are many parts of the roof that you need to know about in order to make a roof that works perfectly and looks good.

A roof consists of many different elements that all have their own names. One of these elements is the soffit. If you’re looking to build or renovate a roof, you will need to consider the soffit although you may not have heard of it before.

In broad terms, the soffit is the underside of a roof that overhangs the building. In this article, we will take a closer look at soffits, what they’re made of, and why they’re important.

Let’s get started!


We’ll begin by taking a closer look at what a soffit is and what the word means. The word ‘soffit’ comes from a French word and refers to something that is fixed underneath. This is a great description of a soffit and where you will find it on a house!

Soffits are mainly found on the main roofing area of a house but you can also see them in other places, such as underneath porches or flights of stairs.

If you have a roof that overhangs the walls of your house, you will see that there is often a cover or board placed underneath the roof to protect the underside from the elements. This is the soffit.

You can see a soffit from street level (see also “How Much Does It Cost To Level Land?“) or when you’re standing close to the house. If there is one in place, simply look up and it will be there. As soffits are visible, it’s important they’re fixed correctly and look good.

What Is The Purpose Of A Soffit?

Soffits serve several different important purposes. Let’s take a look at these.

What Is A Soffit?

Protects The Roof

The main purpose of a soffit is to protect the roof. When a roof overhangs a building, If a soffit isn’t in place, the rafters of the roof would be exposed to the elements and this can cause a multitude of problems.

Rafters are usually made of wood. Although wood is a strong building material it can also be damaged by a variety of different factors.

Wood doesn’t become damaged quickly, but when you build a house you want it to stand tall and safe for decades (if not centuries) and wood will not survive this length of time if it isn’t protected.

A soffit prevents the natural elements from getting into your roof and attacking your rafters. They can prevent mold from entering your rafters and this in turn prevents them from rotting.

Once your rafters begin to rot it is almost impossible to stop. You would need to either employ a remedial company or replace the rafters completely and neither of these options is cheap.

Allows Moisture To Escape

Many soffits come with small vents built in. This allows air to circulate around the house while also limiting how much moisture can get through. 

This is important because dampness can cause great problems in your roof and your home. Damp is always an issue because so many of our daily activities produce moisture.

For example, cooking, washing clothes, and showering will all put moisture into the air of your home. 

If moisture can’t escape the home, it becomes condensation. This settles on your walls, windows, and ceilings and can sink in, causing damp to occur. You need ventilation in your roof to prevent condensation from accruing. 

Blocks Roof Access

Leaving a gap between the roof and the walls where the rafters can be accessed is asking for trouble. It won’t be too long before some form of wildlife finds the gap and decides that the inside of your roof is a nice and safe place to make their home.

Without a soffit, don’t be surprised if animals such as birds, possums, or bats find your roof to be inviting. Usually, these animals don’t cause much damage to a roof but they can be irritating due to the noise they produce.


Soffits are also used to add that finishing aesthetic touch to your home. Without a soffit, you would be able to see up into the roof of your home and that is not likely to be a pretty sight!

Rafters are usually covered in dirt, dust, and cobwebs and this is not something you want to be able to see. 

Soffits cover the gap produced by an overhanging roof in an aesthetically pleasing way. They can be sympathetic to the look of your home and look great!

What Materials Are Used For Soffits?

Many different types of materials can be used for soffits. These include:

  • UPVC
  • Cement
  • Steel
  • Wood

Of these options, UPVC is the most commonly used. This material is perfect for soffits because it is durable, doesn’t need much maintenance, and is cost-effective. It doesn’t rot like wood and is a better insulator than metal.

UPVC is also water resistant and often comes with vents built in to allow air to flow.

For these reasons, we highly recommend using UPVC for a soffit. It can be made in a variety of different finishes and styles and usually only needs wiping down with soap and water when it gets dirty.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we explained all about soffits. These are found underneath the overhang of a roof and protect your roof and rafters from the elements.

They can prevent mold and damp from accruing in your roof and are more aesthetically pleasing than leaving a gap. We also discussed the materials used for soffits.

Luke Powell
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