new soffit installed on the exterior of a home

Soffit

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 3/10/2021

If you’ve been around the home improvement and DIY game long enough, you’ve probably come across the term soffit. It gets used most commonly to refer to certain lofty areas and spaces in and around the home. However, it’s not a term that gets used much unless you’re looking to do some repairs or maintenance. So it’s understandable if there is a bit of confusion and you just want some clarification.

Definition

The term soffit can refer to a couple of different architectural elements in and around the house. Typically, on the exterior of the home, it can refer to the space, the coverings, and the 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, the term can refer to the hanging underside of any construction element that isn’t a base, such as the soffits under a staircase.

What Is The Purpose Of A Soffit?

Whether you’re looking to repair or replace a soffit in your kitchen or outside, the overall costs for the project might have you wondering: “Why have them at all?” They are actually pretty important and typically serve a couple of useful functions, depending on where they are located around the home. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind about the ones you have around your home:

  • Soffits located on the exterior of a home are typically meant to provide ventilation, reduce heat levels in the attic, and to keep moisture from getting into the rafters and creating problems.
  • From a design perspective, they help add to the overall appearance of the house. They come in various styles, colors, and materials, and can be used to add character to the exterior of a home, and even increase the resale value in certain situations.
  • 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 to help maintain a clean finished appearance.
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