How To Install Vinyl Soffit Over Wood

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

When it comes to maintaining your roof, there typically isn’t a lot to be done unless you got an old or poorly made roof. Still, there will come a time where you are looking to have essential maintenance done or perhaps are looking to make a change to some of the materials.

Remove the gutters and downspouts and nail a J-channel into the underside of the soffit plywood. Cut into the fascia board and tuck the drip edge between the plywood and shingles. Put the pieces of fascia back in place and nail them down 1” from the top of the vinyl to secure it.

In this article, we will take you step by step on how to install vinyl over soffit wood. Additionally, we explain why some individuals choose vinyl so that you can decide if this something that you want for your own home as well. Let’s get to it!

Do You Need Roofing, Siding, or Gutter Installers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Why Should You Choose Vinyl?

Vinyl has gained popularity in recent years because it is helping to improve the overall quality and durability of home construction projects. Wood, which has traditionally been the choice in construction, can rot when it has extended exposure to the elements.

Vinyl, meanwhile, is much more durable than wood and isn’t susceptible to rotting and warping the way that wood is. Given how cost-effective using vinyl is, it is a slam dunk to use in most construction projects. That is why you would want to use it for the fascia of your roof.

Even better, vinyl comes in a huge range of colors and designs, so you can get what you need to match your home. That’s so much better than having a mismatched color that sticks out like a sore thumb. Vinyl is also water-resistant too, making it an excellent choice for more extended durability.

Vinyl Is Also Eco-Friendly

In addition to being cost-effective and much more durable than traditional wood, vinyl is also quite friendly to the environment. This is because it is a recyclable material. Both the vinyl membranes and roofing shingles can be recycled after they have hit their end of life.

There are also PVC membranes that have solar-reflective properties. This is not only good for the longevity of the material; it can mean keeping your home much cooler during the summer, reducing the need for expensive HVAC systems to be running all the time.

Vinyl Provides Proper Ventilation

For older homes, installing the vinyl soffit means that it has to go over the top of some old wood. This is very common, but there are definitely things that need to be done. Even with the vinyl, the wood underneath can rot.

The first and most important thing you need to consider when installing a vinyl soffit over existing wood is to make sure that there is proper ventilation. You can determine this based on the size of your attic. The amount of ventilation depends on the attic size as well as what kind of climate your area has.

The best way to determine how much ventilation is required is to check out local building codes. This will save you some headaches when you go through the process of installing your vinyl soffit over the existing wood.

Perforated Siding Plays An Important Role In Proper Ventilation

When it comes to getting proper ventilation prior to the installation of the vinyl soffit, many are moving towards perforated siding. Since there are some manufacturers that will make vented soffits, you might not need to make changes to your structure. This is a huge boon and will save you some time.

If you don’t purchase a soffit that is perforated, you can cut holes into your existing wood. This will allow for better direct airflow right into the attic space before it is covered up by the vinyl. If you are planning to install a vinyl soffit, you should also plan to provide better ventilation to the wood lying underneath.

A good rule of thumb is to cut a hole into the plywood every couple of feet or so. This should meet most building codes regardless of where you live. Still, it is a good idea to check your area’s building codes before doing anything. Better safe than sorry.

How To Install Your Vinyl Fascia Over Existing Wood

The fascia board is very important in the overall construction of the home. The fascia board runs along the edge of your roof. This is where you attach the soffit panels as well as both sets of gutters that allow water to run down and drain away from your home.

Generally speaking, older homes will have a fascia made of wood. There are more and more homeowners, though, that are switching to vinyl because of its long-lasting, durable impact on the existing roof.

On top of all of that, vinyl is also considered to look better overall when compared to painted wood. Vinyl serves a practical function as well. When you install that vinyl fascia over top of the plywood, this will help to protect the wooden structure that is already there. Now, it’s time to install the fascia.

Step 1: Removing The Gutters And Downspouts

Before we can do anything, the first step is to take down your downspouts and gutters. Be careful when removing them, as they are quite crucial to protecting your home from any excess water that can accumulate. Set them off to the side while replacing the soffit, keeping them clear of any potential falling debris. You do not want to have to add in the costs of replacing gutters when a little care would go a long way towards protecting them.

Step 2: J-Channel And Cutting The Vinyl

Next, we are going to place the J-channel. It will go along the wall and then should be nailed securely to the underside of the soffit plywood. When you are nailing the J-channel, one should go into the plywood every 18 inches or so.

Be certain that the J-channel is secure before moving on to the next step. When they are adequately secured, it is time to cut the new vinyl pieces. When you have made your cuts, carefully slide them into the previously nailed J-channel.

When you slide them in, make sure that you nail the opposite side securely into the fascia board. This is meant to hold the soffit until you can get to the point of installing the fascia.

Step 3: Cutting The Fascia Pieces And The Finishing Touches

One of the final steps is to cut out the fascia pieces. When you have done this, you will tuck the top of the drip edge between the plywood and the shingles that are on your roof. This is to help keep them completely secure when you have finished.

When you have placed the fascia pieces properly, it is time to secure them. Nail the fascia pieces down right around an inch from the top of your vinyl fascia. When you feel comfortable that everything is properly secured, you just need to put the gutters back into place, and you are set.

The Purpose Of A Soffit

The number one purpose of the soffit is to help protect your rafters from being affected by the elements. The soffit helps keep the moisture away as well as reducing the chance of mold growth. Overall, soffit helps to preserve the life of the materials. The bonus of it all is it adds some character to your home while serving an essential purpose.

Does That Mean That You Need A Soffit?

You most definitely need soffit in your home if you want to keep your rafters from growing mold or being affected in a negative way by the elements. The air from the cycles that go to the vents helps draw away any heat and moisture. Moisture is what causes mold and roof rot as well as poor air quality.

Not to mention, soffit also keeps pests from coming into your home through the gutters and nesting in your attic. So, while technically you could choose not to have soffit, it’s something you very much need for your home.

Do You Need Roofing, Siding, or Gutter Installers?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Take Your Time

As you can see, this process is relatively easy. It is essential, though, that you take your time and follow the instructions. The key is to ensure that everything is appropriately secured; you don’t want pieces flying loose during a terrible storm.

Another important thing is to make sure that your measurements are accurate. Take your time to make sure that you get the proper measurements and cuts; you don’t want your new fascia to be uneven or distorted-looking. Not to mention, you want the soffit to serve the purpose it’s designed to. Therefore, your measurements and installation both need to be 100% accurate in order to keep your roof rafters safe.

While there are many different choices when it comes to soffit material, vinyl is the best. Vinyl is flexible and resists all types of weather. It also seems to be the cheapest of all the materials as well, and it’s eco-friendly!

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

More by Ryan Womeldorf