Siding project: soffit

As far as the blog is concerned, I’ve basically skipped the siding project.  But fortunately in actual life, the project is coming to a close and the biggest remaining hurdle was how to replace the old soffit.  I’m not sure my solution is actually called soffit; a professional might say it is “wrapping” the rafters of the roof trusses.  To me they’re one and the same and I’m going to call it soffit.  Here’s how I did it.

4x8 foot 1/2” ACX plywood sheets (the A means that one face is basically free of knots and blemishes whereas the C means there are some knots).  The sheets had a smooth finish.  I primed them with Killz interior/exterior primer.

I made a pair of short scaffolds for working under the eaves from a taller scaffold I had built for working on the gable ends of the house.  I used a circular saw and my siding nail gun to build the scaffolding.  I didn’t worry too much about making it look pretty.  That said, the scaffolds needed to support my shifting wait so bracing the legs was important for giving the scaffold shear strength (to not collapse to one side or the other).  Siding nails don’t have much shear strength so they’re not dependable for weighty applications but I had a lot of them and they were good enough for some ad hoc scaffolding.

I inserted plastic soffit chuting between the rafters and then blocked underneath them.  The former creates a passage for air to flow from the attic to the soffit vent after more insulation is blown into the attic.  The latter, blocking, keeps insulation from moving into the soffit and blocking the soffit vent.

I did the layout by snapping a chalk line 5 inches away from the fascia and pulling the line taught between two nails at either end of the eaves.  Before putting up the plywood and venting, to keep small critters from getting through the vent slots, I stapled 6” screen along my chalk reference line.

You can see there is a pretty big gap between my plywood and the back of the fascia.  This is partly due to waves in the fascia, partly due to my lack of precision, and maybe partly due to harmonics (small waves) setting up the line as it was snapped and bounced off the rafters.  The finished product looks pretty good with caulking and if I were to make it perfect I’d still be working on it.  Definitely important in a project to balance perfection against time investment.  I loosely nailed the first run of plywood near the fascia to make inserting the venting flange under it easy.  I put up all of the plywood by the fascia, then all of the venting, then finished with the plywood near the side of the house.  As I slid the venting in I placed more nails in the first rung of plywood.  After I had all of the plywood up I thoroughly nailed everything with 15 gauge electro-galvanized (or galvanized or stainless—I can’t remember but I made sure they were rated for exterior use).

Here’s a close-up.  The butt ends of the plywood end at the rafters so they could be securely nailed.  I didn’t nail the soffit into the fascia at all because I figure some day I may want to replace the fascia and I don’t want to have to redo the soffit when the time comes.

CURRENT STATUS: I still have to finish the caulking.  Since getting the soffit put up I’ve been learning about painting the exterior of the house by watching YouTube, reading up on the web, and getting some quotes.  I’m going back and forth on whether or not I should save the money and do the painting myself or save the time and have someone else do it.

-Matt