How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia – Part 5

This project is continued from How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia – Part 4.

The mesh screen flip-up gutter covers weren’t doing the job, so I installed bullnose style metal gutter covers that slide under the shingles. These gutter covers cost about $1.35/foot and are available in 4ft and 10ft lengths from a local gutter supply company. Here I’ve got the main section installed and about to install covers on the outside corner. These things get almost too hot to touch on a sunny day!

Bullnose Metal Gutter Covers

Bullnose Metal Gutter Covers

The gutter covers serve two purposes:

  1. To keep debris out of the gutter while avoiding trash build-up on the roof like those flip-up metal covers I had on before.
  2. To keep squirrels out of the attic. Recall the gap between the roof deck and fascia board I described in Part 1.

The gutter covers appear to be working well. What I’ve been able to observe so far is even heavy rain is wicked into the gutter and leaves go over the side. Fall and Spring will be the real test.  See this article for a detailed DIY gutter cover project writeup. Ultimately, the 5 inch gutters and DIY gutter covers were replaced with new 6 inch gutters and MasterShield Gutter Covers.

Painting the Soffit and Fascia

I painted the gutter, fascia and soffit with Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Acrylic Latex paint. The Duration paint is thicker than standard paints, self-priming, low odor and dries quickly. You get maybe 4 or 5 brush strokes before it starts to thicken. The texture when dry is like a coat of plastic – impressive. I think the quality is right there with Benjamin-Moore MoorGlo® paint.

Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Paint

Sherwin-Williams Duration Exterior Paint

The Sherwin-Williams Duration paint is expensive – wait for a 25% off sale if you can. Visit your local Sherwin-Williams store and have them put your contact info. in their database (it’s free), you’ll receive e-mail coupons and sales notices.

The new soffit and fascia look great after painting. The last thing to do is install a soffit vent.

Soffit and Fascia Repair after Painting

Soffit and Fascia Repair after Painting

Another view of the finished job.

Rotted Soffit and Fascia Replacement After Painting

Rotted Soffit and Fascia Replacement After Painting

The soffit repair is done. Might as well do some more painting while I’ve got the scaffolding:

Rotted Soffit Repair: Roof Brackets, Ladder and Scaffold

Rotted Soffit Repair: Roof Brackets, Ladder and Scaffold

I took advantage of the scaffold to clean & re-slope the gutters, install new gutter covers and do some painting and caulking on the windows and trim.

The soffit and fascia repair required about 4 hours once all the tools, roof brackets, ladders and scaffold were in place. I did the work over two different evenings, stopping only because it got dark on me.

The materials cost were:

  • $21.97 for a 3/8″ x 4′ x 8′ sheet of sanded plywood for the soffit
  • $31.28 for an 18′ x 1′ x 8′ piece of TUF board for the fascia
  • $92.00 to rent the scaffold for 7-days
  • ~$30.00 for gutter sealant, gutter screws, caulk and misc. supplies
  • $40.00 to rent a Home Depot trunk ($19.95 each trip) to pickup and return the scaffold
  • ~$58.00 for a gallon of Sherwin-Williams Duration paint. I bought several gallons while it was on sale.

I already had a good stock of exterior wood screws and all the tools I needed.

How to Install New Soffit Vents

It’s important to replace the soffit vent for proper attic ventilation. I bought several Master Flow 16 in. x 4 in. Aluminum Under Eave Soffit Vents at Home Depot for about $2/each which matched the style and size of the other vents on the house. This photo was taken in response to a question I received long after the original repair job and I’ve since had the roof and gutters replaced. Another example of rotted soffit replacement is here.

Soffit and Soffit Vent Replacement

Soffit and Soffit Vent Replacement

The home builder installed the minimum number of soffit vents required by the Building Code. Originally there was only one vent on the lower soffit (the 2nd vent from the left in the next photo). I installed three additional soffit vents for improved attic ventilation (here and elsewhere around the house). The new vents are apparent because I haven’t yet painted the vents to match the off-white house trim color. I used pan-head wood screws to mount the new soffit vents whereas the builder used nails to mount the original vents. Soffit vents should always be installed so the louvers face the wall to minimize the chance of wind-blown rain entering the vent.

Install Additional Soffit Vents

Install Additional Soffit Vents

The home builder cut crude diagonal mounting holes with a circular power saw that blocked a significant portion of the soffit vent. I can do a much better job by creating a simple card board mounting template and sawing a precision vent hole with my Rotozip spiral saw (but without the Rotozip edge guide attachment).

The Master Flow 16 in x 4 in soffit vent and cardboard mounting template is shown here:

Soffit Vent Mounting Template

Soffit Vent Mounting Template

The 1 inch standoff from the edge of the fascia board (see the red arrows above) was chosen to match how my other soffit vents are mounted for appearances. Change this dimension to match your soffit vents. Aside: I added black duct tape to stiffen the template because the thin cardboard frame was a bit flimsy.

To make the template, I traced the outline of the soffit vent on a large piece of cardboard, added the fascia board standoff dimension (top side of template in the following photo) and punched out the screw holes with a sharp nail:

Master Flow 16 x 4 Soffit Vent on Mounting Template

Master Flow 16 x 4 Soffit Vent on Mounting Template

Imagine you are inside the attic looking down at the soffit. This is how the mounting template would appear and the soffit vent is mounted (although you’re tracing the saw lines while working outdoors). It’s important to mark the screw positions on the soffit after tracing the saw lines to precisely align the vent with the mounting hole:

Soffit Vent Mounting Template overlay on Soffit Vent

Soffit Vent Mounting Template overlay on Soffit Vent

The soffit vent installation steps are:

  1. All work is done outdoors.
  2. Wear safety glasses because saw dust will be raining down on you!
  3. Check for electrical wiring and other utilities inside the soffit.
  4. Measure where the new soffit vent should be located on the soffit.
  5. Hold the cardboard mounting template against the soffit and inside edge of the fascia board.
  6. Trace the saw lines for the vent opening inside the template. Also mark the six screw or nail holes on the soffit.
    A felt tip pen does a great job.
  7. Adjust the Rotozip spiral saw bit so the cut is about 1/8 inch deeper than the thickness of the soffit plywood.
    Keeping the depth of the cut as shallow as possible avoids damage to the wood framing – rafters and lookouts.
    I used the Rotozip jigsaw handle attachment that provides a flat stable base to hold the saw against the work surface.
  8. Saw out the rectangular vent mounting hole along the lines traced with the template.
  9. Reach inside the soffit vent mounting hole and brush out as much saw dust as possible so it doesn’t get blown around and possibly clog the vent later.
  10. Mount the soffit with pan head wood screws by aligning the soffit vent with the holes marked using the template.

I prefer screws instead of nails for most jobs because screws hold more securely and are easier to install especially where it’s awkward to swing a hammer. My favorite are Simpson Strong-Tie SD8 #8 1-1/2 wood screws which are available at Home Depot. Another advantage of woods screws is I can quickly remove the soffit vent to pull wiring for a floodlight or security camera to be mounted nearby.

Hope this helps,

Bob Jackson

Copyright © 2016   Reproduction strictly prohibited.

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14 Responses to How to Repair Rotted Soffit and Fascia – Part 5

  1. tim March 3, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    Hi – thanks for the article. I have a small problem. Our roof decking and shingles hang so far over the edge of the rafters that there’s only 1.5″ or so of space in the gutter for rain to run into. So rain water flows over the gutters even in a medium rainfall. The gutters aren’t laid right & fascia needs replacing. What’s the best way to the guttering away from the roof line so that it collects more water. Should I cut several inches off the decking and shingles or build up the lookouts and fasica so it is farther away? If I cut the decking and shingles can I do it all at once or do I need to pull the shingles out, cut the decking and reinstall the shingles?

    • Bob Jackson March 5, 2011 at 10:10 am #

      Hi Tim,
      The roof sheathing (decking) should be cut back so it’s even with the rafter tails, then install new fascia, drip edge flashing or gutter apron, and gutters. The starter row of shingles will have to be removed so you can chalk a straight line and trim the roof sheathing with a circular saw.

      Do the work on a sunny day when the shingles are warm and flexible so you don’t damage the 2nd row of shingles as you lift up the ends to remove the starter row. A new starter row of shingles will have to be installed.

      I would install PVC or similar rot free fascia board with either an aluminum drip edge flashing or gutter apron. If using a drip edge flashing, install the gutter just below the drip edge kickout. If using a gutter apron (similar to a drip edge but without a kickout on the bottom edge) slip the gutter behind the apron. I personally like the drip edge because it supports the shingle overhang and keeps water from wicking down the fascia board.

      Visit your local roofing supply store where the roofing contractors buy their materials and talk to the front desk staff for advice. They’ll have a dozen styles of drip edge flashing on display and everything you need for a DIY job. For example, in my neck of the woods, Commercial Roofing Specialties, Inc. has everything you can imagine and is really helpful.

      For future correspondence, please leave a real e-mail address in the comment form so you can receive my replies. Your e-mail address is private and can’t be seen by other readers.

  2. Matt December 26, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    Thank you very much for taking the time to demonstrate how this is done. I have a similar problem where two facia boards meet and need to address it.

    All the Best,

  3. Val June 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm #

    This article was EXCELLENT – a very understandable explanation with excellent use of photos for illustration! We have a very similar problem. My husband and I learned a lot reading this. We will probably have the work done, but this helps us to know what needs to be done. Thank you very much.

    • Bob Jackson June 14, 2012 at 5:45 am #

      You’re most welcome! Your contractor will be surprised that you know exactly what needs to be done and quote a fair price.

  4. Sam June 21, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Hi Bob!
    Let me start out by saying I really enjoy this site (especially the HVAC sections) and thank you for sharing your “journey” as a homeowner; I’m learning a lot of useful information!
    And now I have some questions about this particular repair project I hope you’ll answer.
    1.) I’ve never encountered the term “lookout” before. Can you please explain this more?
    2.) Like you, I have a complicated roofline and several attic spaces, and I noticed in a photo( in the first part of this series where you’re diagnosing the moisture damage inside the attic) there are shingles on the roof INSIDE the attic. Is that common practice?
    3.) How is your attic vented? I saw a small soffit vent in the section of plywood soffit you removed, but no soffit vent in the NEW soffit. And in the photo you took of the underside of the old soffit (after it was removed), it’s clear the opening for the vent was cut very crudely, therefore not allowing air to enter adequately. So my question is this: Did you not replace the soffit vent because you don’t need it or because you made a mistake? I guess I’m wondering if you have ridge venting, in which case you’d need soffit vents. Though I’ve been reading lately homes in our climate (I live in Alabama) that have mechanical systems in the attic (as yours and mine do) need to be properly vented because the extreme heat in the attic puts a big strain on the AC.
    Sam :)

    • Bob Jackson June 21, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      Hi Sam,
      Home ownership is definitely an (expensive) adventure! Replies to your questions:

      1 – “Lookout” is a standard framing term. Here’s a nice diagram.

      2 – It’s a common practice based on the homes I’ve seen in my neighborhood which was completed in phases by several builders from 1998 to 2002. Overall it’s good the shingles and underlayment are installed on the roof underlying the soffit plywood and fascia board because I would’ve had a roof leak otherwise. The original home builder also should’ve installed kickout flashing where the fascia board meets the roof. When I later had my roof replaced the roofers installed new flashing everywhere.

      3 – My attic is now well ventilated by soffit vents, a couple of round eave vents and ridge vents. The roof venting was completely reworked when the roof was replaced. Originally the home had a minimum quantity of soffit vents and box/turtle vents. It’s important to remove the box vents for the ridge vents to function properly. Otherwise the box vents mounted lower on the roof can turn into air intakes at the expense of the soffit vents.

      The roof replacement occurred after a hail storm a year or two after I replaced the rotted soffit and fascia board. I’ve updated the original project with details for installing new soffit vents in response to your questions. See the update at the end of project.


  5. Sam June 25, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Now THOSE are some good looking soffit vents!

  6. Mary Walker September 17, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    I want someone to do repair for me, soffit repair/replacement. Who can I call?

    • Bob Jackson September 17, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

      Try and search for “roofers”. Then research your list of likely candidates. I prefer companies that:
      * Have a real business office and address. Avoid companies that list only a PO Boxes, UPS Store drop boxes, etc. Look up the address on Google Maps; aerial and street views are very helpful.
      * Is accredited by the Better Business Bureau with an “A” or better rating.
      * Has been in business at least 5 years; longer is better. A warranty is worthless if the company isn’t around when you call.

      Get a written estimate and copies of their liability insurance and Workers’ compensation insurance. Then call the insurance agent to validate the policy is in force. If a worker falls off a ladder or is injured you don’t want them suing you! Also ask for 3 to 5 recent customer references.

      Good luck!

  7. Don February 10, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Bob,

    I have one question. My soffit/facia looks exactly like yours. Problem with mine is I had a raccoon tear it open where it meets the roof. My question would be, did you just use silicone caulk where the soffit meets the roof? Or did you put some metal flashing there?

    Thanks and great write up!!


    • Bob Jackson February 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

      At the time I repaired the soffit only, I caulked the seam where the end of the plywood soffit meets the shingled roof. About 2 years later the roof was replaced after a hail storm. The roofers installed kickout flashing between the fascia board and soffit, then caulked the soffit/roof line:
      Soffit and Fascia Kickout Flashing Detail

      See about 2/3rds down the page at this roof replacement writeup for better details of the same type of soffit/roof repair.


  8. Earl July 27, 2016 at 7:07 pm #

    Hey Bob – awesome site! – pictures and descriptions better than most books – Thank you

    A couple of quick questions about the fascia and soffits – –

    1. it looks like you’ve used both AZEK and TUF boards for the Fascia at different times.
    Looking back – any preferences or differences between the two?

    2. Being PVC, did they require any support other than the attachment to the lookouts?
    Didn’t appear so but thought that I would ask.

    3. Any particular reason why you went with Plywood instead of Hardiboard for the soffits?

    4. Now that some time has passed – would you do anything differently?

    Thanks again, Earl

    • Bob Jackson July 27, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

      Thank you for the compliments!

      Replies to your questions:
      1 – I like both AZEK and TUF board products. The reason for using both was a matter of what was available at the home improvement store.

      2 – PVC trim boards installed and supported just like wood. Best of all no knots, splits, warping, cupping or shrinkage!

      3 – I like James Hardie cement board products. My house has HardiePlank siding and I replaced rotted Masonite siding on a former home with HardiPanel. The issues with cement board are it’s heavy, creates a lot of dust when sawing with power tools, is best installed with nail guns (hand nailing is difficult and makes a divot on back of the board, screws require pre-drilling holes) and if not handled carefully can bend and crack. On the plus side it’s rot/insect proof and fire resistant.

      Given the above I chose plywood and installed roof valley flashing to keep the rain water from seeping under the end. When I had the roof replaced they installed rain diverter flashing (closeup photo is here) to keep it dry.

      4 – What would I do differently? With respect to the soffit repair I’m happy as-is. Maybe after the kids finish college I’ll have all the wood fascia and soffit replaced with PVC or cement board.

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