Keeping your house looking fit year in and year out is a demanding job, and nothing is more noticeable than a sagging soffit board. The soffit is the underside of a roof’s overhang that seals the attic and finishes the eave. It is constructed from quarter-inch plywood on most homes. The roof overhang consists of the rafters, facing or fascia board, gutter mold, and soffit. Leaking gutters over time cause rotting in the soffit, as well as the facia and molding. Bees, squirrels, and nesting birds can also damage the eaves. Regardless of the cause, you don’t need to call a repairman to fix the problem. You can follow these simple steps.
Step 1: Remove Old Soffit
You can replace the old soffit from a ladder, but be sure it is level and stationary. If possible, have another person nearby for handling long gutters and fascia boards. Wear safety glasses when working overhead to protect your eyes from falling debris. Using the pry bar, remove the gutter along the overhang, being careful not to crimp nor damage the metal. A strip of gutter mold along the top of the fascia board supports the edges of the shingles. Remove the molding and fascia to gain access to the soffit. Examine them for any damage or rotting wood. Locate the end of the bad soffit board and pry away the entire strip. Remove any nails that remain in the rafters that can prevent the new soffit from fitting flat against the surface.
Step 2: Inspect Eave
After removing the fascia and soffit, you can see where the rot or damage begins. You may find rotted rafters that need to be spliced and replaced. Use a reciprocating saw to trim off any rotted part of the rafters and replace it as needed using mending plates and braces. Remove any bird or bee nests that are attracting pests. Clean any other debris from inside the eave.
Step 3: Install New Materials
Measure the width and length of the replacement soffit board. Cut the plywood panel with a circular saw to the proper size. Prime the soffit and treat the edges with paste wax to better preserve the wood and aid in sealing the eave. Using finish nails, attach the soffit to the rafters. If you have a finish or brad nailer, the job will be much simpler. Paint the primed new board to match the rest of the soffit.
Step 4: Replace the Trim
If the fascia board and gutter mold are not weather-damaged, replace them on the eave. Paint areas where old paint has been chipped or scraped. Re-attach the gutter, ensuring that the shingle overhang and any flashing extends over the top edge of the gutter. Touch up painted surfaces to ensure that the new soffit board matches the other trim.