Outdoor living spaces, such as porches, are becoming increasingly popular amongst homeowners. Porches, patios, decks, and other spaces are being added to more homes than ever before as people choose to expand their definition of home and how they use their space.
More than half of all single family homes now have porches, with most new homes being built with porches installed as well. Having a porch isn’t enough though; because the porch is located at the front of the property, it’s curb appeal must also be taken into consideration. All aspects of the porch’s appearance must be considered, including giving a finished look to its edges and underside.
What Is a Porch Soffit?
Part of any porch construction is the inclusion of an overhang or roof. While a deck is exposed to the elements, a porch is typically a covered extension of the home, and therefore of the house’s roof. The porch roof will usually have the same roofing material as the rest of the house, and it will be given a finished interior as well as exterior.
One area that frequently gets overlooked is the soffit. This is the front portion of the overhang, below the gutter system. Soffits are actually part of every roof system, and without them, the roof wouldn’t be finished. This is particularly true for porches, which often have a lower roof than the rest of the home.
Why Soffits Are Important
Roofs have many different components, not just the finished portion on top of the home. A roof also has rafters or trusses on the underside, giving it the support it needs. You don’t see the trusses from the outside because the soffit is there to cover the area and give it a finished appearance.
In addition to covering the trusses and creating a finished look for the exterior, soffits have a few other purposes. Soffits can be used to help create a more attractive appearance for a porch. Porch roofs are usually lower, and therefore need more of a design element than the rest of the roof overhang. Soffits play a big role in how your porch looks from the street, which in turn helps boost the curb appeal of your property.
Soffits are also important to the function of the area, as well. If the rafters and underside of the roof and overhang are exposed, then they are more susceptible to the weather. This can lead to mold, wood rot, and moisture damage to a crucial area of the home. These issues have a tendency to spread once they are first introduced, so while mold on the underside of your porch may not sound like a significant issue, it may spread to the rest of your roof and attic space. Soffits help keep most of the elements out of your roof. They help block wind and rain, so there’s less moisture entering the area, and therefore less of a risk of mold or mildew growth.
Completely sealing up this space isn’t always recommended however; air needs to freely circulate in the roof area to help remove excess moisture from the air. Soffits, therefore, are often designed to help aid in air flow. This is done by perforating or venting the soffits. They still provide an attractive underside for the roof overhang and porch, but can let air flow through the area. This helps keep the area cool, and allows any condensation to evaporate naturally, which can help reduce the chance of moisture-related problems.
4 Porch Soffit Design Ideas
Soffits for porches also add character to the front of the home - the place where it’s most effective in terms of curb appeal and exterior design. Many people put a lot of focus on the siding and roofing of a house which are very important areas for giving a home its appearance. However, they aren’t the only areas that reflect the style of your home.
When you add a front porch, you’re changing the style of the home. The porch soffits that you choose will help define that style, and add character to the space. Not every detail of the soffit will be seen from the road, but many features will be seen by those utilizing the porch.
Consider using these porch soffit ideas and include these features and details to make the most of your porch:
1. Wood Grain
No matter what type of cladding you use on your home, a nice detail for the soffit area is to give it a wood-look. There are many drawbacks to using real wood; some woods are too easily damaged by moisture, and would rot too quickly, while others would require a lot of maintenance to look their best. Woods like cedar often bleed a dark color through their paint, while cheaper woods have a tendency to peel quickly, detracting from the curb appeal.
It’s possible to get the look of wood grain using other materials that are less susceptible to moisture and lower in maintenance. Fiber cement resists moisture and insects, and can last longer than wood, before needing to be painted. This can give you the look of cedar, with a lower risk of problems associated with wood.
2. Smooth Surfaces
While wood-look grain is a nice detail, it won’t work on every exterior. In some cases, a smooth soffit will give you a fresher, cleaner appearance. This is particularly true when using a crisp, white trim on a home. The smooth surface of the soffit emphasizes the color as the accent, rather than the material. This is a good look for homes that have paneling, rather than lap siding, as the texture pairs up better.
3. Color Match to the Trim
Soffits are meant to complete the look for the exterior of your home. Make sure that the color of the soffit complements or matches the trim. There’s no need to keep it stark white or to blend it in with your roof; since soffits can be primed or painted in a variety of shades to complement your exterior. By using a color that coordinates or matches the rest of the trim, such as the fascia board, you can help create a more subtle look. Colorful trim works well on many homes, such as this brick; a white would be too stark, but this deep taupe makes a more subtle transition.
4. Wood Look
One of the benefits of using fiber cement is the ability to get the look of real wood - right down to the color. This wood stain on this soffit perfectly matches the wood stain on some of the lap siding. The ventilation of the soffit is more pronounced than with the perforation, but it matches the style of the rest of the home, including the nearby trim, perfectly. This soffit helps create a more cohesive look for the porch and the home.
Complete Your Front Porch
Your front porch is not complete without a soffit to give it a finished look. No matter what type of exterior cladding you have, or what style of architecture your home and porch are, it’s possible to complete your porch soffit with fiber cement to get the style, and function you need for your porch. Low maintenance fiber cement can give you the look of wood or a smooth finish with or without ventilation