new soffit installed on the exterior of a home


Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/22/2021

If you’re a homeowner, you may already be familiar with the term soffit. At the same time, you may also be slightly confused as to what it means exactly. So, what is a soffit?


The term soffit can refer to a couple of different architectural elements in and around the house. Typically, on the exterior of the house, it can refer to the space and coverings/vents on the underside of the eaves that connect the roof to the walls. Inside, It can also commonly refer to the area between the upper kitchen cabinets and the ceiling, especially if it is enclosed with crown molding or drywall that juts out to create an overhang. More generally, it can refer to the hanging underside of any construction element that isn’t a base, such as the underside of a staircase.

What Is The Purpose Of A Soffit?

Soffits typically serve a couple of functions, depending on where they are located. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the various soffits around a home:

  • Soffits located on the exterior of a home are typically meant to keep moisture from getting into the rafters and creating problems. From a design perspective, soffits can be used to add character to the exterior of a house.
  • Kitchen soffits are mostly decorative and are meant to fill the space between the upper cabinets and the ceiling. They can also be used to hide ductwork, pipes, and wires, in certain cases.