Unfinished basements and other areas often contain elements like beams, pipes, and ductwork that may be vital to your house but become significant obstacles to finishing the space. When you can’t conceal the obstructions within walls, and you’ve determined it’s too costly to move them, hide them inside a framed soffit or chase.
This can also provide a place to run smaller mechanicals, like wiring and water supply lines. So, What is a soffit?
There are many meanings for “soffit”, for example when we talk for the attic (an exterior soffit) then I can say a soffit is a board that runs the length of a wall, spanning between the wall and the fascia on the underside of the rafters.
But if we are talking in the basement (an interior soffit), then I can say A soffit is a bump-out that drops down from the ceiling to conceal ductwork, recessed light fixtures, and other obstructions.
As you see it’s the same word, but its purposes differ from place to another (you will find its uses in the next title), that what makes it a convenient option in construction or remodelling projects.
Or simply its an underside of a roof overhang, cornice, or stairway.
What is the purpose of a soffit?
- Hidding immovable obstructions
- Guarantees the fresh air inside the attic or the basement
- Close the space beneath the eave
What is a Soffit Vent?
A soffit vent is a vent that installed into the underside of your home’s soffit that allows the fresh outside air to get in the attic or basement. Or simply soffit vent is inlet vent in the soffit.
How to frame a Soffit?
Unfinished basements and other areas often contain elements like beams, pipes, and ductwork that may be vital to your house but become big obstacles to finishing the space.
When you can’t conceal the obstructions within walls, and you’ve determined it’s too costly to move them, hide them inside a framed soffit or chase.
This can also provide a place to run smaller mechanicals, like wiring and water supply lines.
You can frame a soffit with a variety of materials including 2 × 2 lumber and 15⁄8-inch steel studs.
Both work well because they’re small and lightweight (though steel is usually easier to work with because it’s always straight).
For large soffits that will house lighting fixtures or other elements, you might want the strength of 2 × 4s or 35⁄8-inch steel studs.
There may be code restrictions about the types of mechanicals that can be grouped, as well as minimum clearances between the framing and what it encloses.
Most codes also specify that soffits, chases, and other framed structures have fire-blocking every 10 feet and at the intersections between soffits and adjacent walls.
Remember too, that drain cleanouts and shutoff valves must be accessible, so you’ll need to install access panels at these locations.
Also, Soffits will require an access panel if they house electrical junction boxes or shutoffs for water or gas supply lines. You can plan these into your framing or create them after the wallcovering is installed, as in the framed opening above.
Here, a wood frame is glued to the soffit to create support ledges for the removable wallboard cutout.
Variations for Building Soffits
Obstructions perpendicular to joists. Build two ladder-like frames for the sofﬁt sides, using standard 2 × 2s. Install 2 × 2 braces (or “rungs”) every 16″ or 24″ to provide nailing support for the edges of the wallboard or other ﬁnish material.
Attach the side frames to the joists on either side of the obstruction, using nails or screws.
Then, install cross pieces beneath the obstacle, tying the two sides together.
Cover the sofﬁt with wallboard, plywood, or other ﬁnish material.
Steel-frame soffit with braces: Use 15⁄8, 21⁄2, or 35⁄8″ steel studs and tracks. Fasten a track to the ceiling and wall with drywall screws.
Cut studs to form the side and bottom of the soffit, fasten them to the tracks every 16″ or 24″ on centre, using Type S Panhead screws, then join the pieces with metal angle (you can use a steel track cut in half lengthwise).
Use a string line and locking clamps to help keep the frame straight and square during construction.
Obstructions parallel to joists. Build side frames as with vertical obstructions, but size them to ﬁt in between two joists. This provides nailing surfaces for both the sofﬁt and ceiling ﬁnish materials.
Attach the frames to the joists with screws, then install cross pieces. Note: If you are enclosing a drain-pipe, wrap the pipe in unfaced ﬁberglass insulation to mufﬂe the sound of draining water.
Simple steel-frame soffit: With ½” drywall, this construction works for soffits up to 16″ wide; with 5⁄8″ drywall, up to 24″ wide. Use 15⁄8, 2½, or 35⁄8″ steel studs and tracks. Fasten a track to the ceiling and a stud to the adjoining wall using drywall screws.
Cut a strip of drywall to form the side of the soffit, and attach a steel stud flush with the bottom edge of the strip using Type S screws.
Attach the assembly to the ceiling track, then cut and install drywall panels to form the soffit bottom.
Maximize headroom. In rooms with low ceilings, and where an obstruction is less than 12″ wide and the finish material will be wallboard or plywood, build side frames (see above) so that the bottom edges are 1⁄8″ lower than the lowest point of the obstruction.
For soffits of this width, the bottom piece of wallboard or plywood stabilizes the structure, so cross pieces between side frames aren’t necessary.
Soffits and Fascia
Some older homes and certain house styles such as Arts & Crafts are designed with open eaves in which the ends of the rafters are exposed.
But installing fascia and soffits creates a finished appearance to the roofline. Besides, modern vinyl soffits offer many advantages over traditional wood styles, and they are easy to clean, simple to install, and virtually maintenance-free.
Vinyl panels and channels are easily cut to fit with special shears or a saw.
The soffit panels come in solid and perforated styles and, although the standard practice is to install one perforated panel for about every three or four solid panels, you can create an entire soffit of perforated panels—which will make ordering the materials much more comfortable.
Soffit and Fascia Types
Fascia cladding. Clad an existing fascia with aluminium or vinyl, or nail F-channel to the bottom of the fascia if you prefer to maintain the wood surface.
You can also select vinyl fascia, with the soffit channel moulded into the design.
Metal soffit panels. Nail F-channel to the wall, leaving a small gap between the nailhead and channel to allow for expansion.
Soffit panels rest on a fascia cladding ledge and F-channel. A portion of each panel is usually perforated for ventilation.
Wood soffits. Wood panels are custom cut from ¼ or ½” rated exterior plywood. The panels can be nailed to rafter lookouts or set onto narrow ledges similar to F-channels. Vent covers are attached over ventilation holes cut into the panels.
How to Install Gutters & Downspouts
1. Mark the starting point of the gutter at one end (or the middle of a long run), and the low point at the other end, allowing for ¼ to ½” to slope for every 10′ of run. Snap a chalk line between the two points.
2. Attach a drop outlet to the fascia at the low point, preferably with a long deck screw that extends into the rafter end.
3. Mount hangers for the gutters, beginning at the high-end mark. Mount the hangers approximately every 30″ unless directed otherwise by the manufacturer.
4. Cut the gutter sections and downspouts to fit using a fine-toothed hacksaw. Remove any burrs with fine-grade sandpaper and test-fit the sections.
5. Build the downspout by connecting the pipe sections with elbows to run down the wall. Connect the downspout to the wall with straps spaced approximately at 8′ intervals.
6. Complete the downspout assembly with a final elbow and pipe section, routed onto a splash drain or into a drain culvert so that water drains away from the foundation.