Soffits are wood, vinyl or aluminum panels found under your roof’s overhangs. They bridge the gap between exterior walls and the roofline. Homeowners face an important decision when wood soffits fail. Should the bad portions of the soffit be replaced with matching wood, or should all the wood soffits be replaced with vinyl?
Soffits and fascia should be examined whenever your gutters are. Wood soffits typically require periodic repainting, while vinyl soffits don’t. High winds can swirl up under your eaves, driving moisture into the area with substantial force.
Over time, wood soffits fail for a variety of reasons:
- Leaks cause rotting
- Wind damage
- Ice dams loosen nails
- Fungi cause dry rot
Soffits and fascia were traditionally fabricated from wood. Today, more and more Tri-state homeowners choose vinyl soffits and composite fascias or PVC trim boards for durability and simplified maintenance.
It’s possible to select vinyl soffits that complement the architectural style of your home since some soffits are plain while others are decorative. There are various surface selections, including smooth, beaded and wood-grain.
Five Key Questions to Ask
Any decision to replace wood soffits with vinyl requires that an NJ homeowner ask the right questions. Here are five questions to consider before you make a final decision.
1. What are the short-term and long-term costs associated with replacing wood soffits with vinyl?
Although there are upfront costs associated with replacing wood soffits with vinyl, it’s likely you’ll dramatically reduce future repair expenses. Also, long-term maintenance costs typically go down when you replace wood soffits with vinyl.
Painted wood tends to peel over time, particularly in vulnerable places like soffits and fascia. Periodic repainting is one expense you can avoid when you choose vinyl soffits. With vinyl, color is integrated into the material, so you avoid repainting. Professional painters understand how all the detail work around wood soffits and fascia can drive up painting costs.
Water damage to wood soffits is even more of a problem because of all the ways that moisture intrusion can occur. Missing shingles, clogged gutters, bent flashing and ice dams can all result in water making its way to your soffits.
2. How can ventilated vinyl soffits reduce energy costs?
Escalating energy costs make NJ homeowners more keenly aware of the importance of adequate roof ventilation. Many homes constructed decades ago featured unventilated wood soffits. Today, the importance of a well-ventilated attic and roof system is better understood.
It’s possible to install vinyl soffits that provide continuous ventilation all along your roof line. Ventilated vinyl soffits improve airflow through your attic, evacuating hot, humid air in the summer and warm, moist air in the winter. During the warmer months, a well-ventilated attic acts as a buffer between the conditioned air in your living space and the air outside, thereby reducing the load on your cooling system.
3. How can vinyl soffits positively impact health?
Roof leaks often attack wood soffit boards, while vinyl is very water-resistant. If you live in an NJ home with deteriorating wood soffits, you should be aware of the potential for health issues related to mold, mildew and/or fungus. For example, mold spores that make their way into your living space can cause a variety of respiratory and other health issues.
While wood may rot due to prolonged exposure to moisture, it may also suffer dry rot, a condition in which fungi break down the wood fibers until the wood crumbles.
4. What about soffits and insects, animals and nests?
Vinyl soffits and composite fascia keep insects, birds and small animals outside of your home where they belong. By comparison, rotting wood soffits may provide living creatures an opportunity to invade your eaves. Squirrels build nests and bees build hives in deteriorating eaves. Also, rodents are more likely to try to gnaw through rotting wood than tough vinyl. In a variety of ways, rot-free vinyl soffits and composite fascia minimize the possibility of future problems with small animals and insects.
5. Will the appearance of my home change if I replace wood with vinyl?
Vinyl typically retains its “like new” appearance for a long time, reflecting pride of ownership. Crisp, clean vinyl soffits may also be a plus in the eyes of prospective home buyers.
Recommendation from a Certified Contractor
It’s often easier to make a decision to replace wood soffits with vinyl after getting expert advice from a certified roofing contractor that serves your area on a regular basis. Factory-certified contractors meet rigorous standards before they are factory-certified by leading roofing manufacturers like GAF and Owens Corning.
Since these companies require that such contractors meet rigorous customer service standards, it’s easier to trust their recommendations.
Contact CRS Today
Contact CRS if you’d like an expert recommendation whether to replace wood soffits with vinyl. Since 1977, we’ve addressed every NJ roofing need imaginable, from routine maintenance to emergency repairs, and from periodic inspections to complete roof replacements. We also update roof ventilation, install drip edges and perform repairs of every kind.
CRS is proud to be a GAF Master Elite Contractor and an Owens Corning Preferred Contractor. This puts us in a position to offer the very best manufacturer warranties in the business.
We’d welcome the opportunity to earn your business, whether you live in Bergen, Essex or Passaic counties or beyond. Please contact us, and we’ll arrange to send our certified roof inspector to your property.