It goes without saying that soffits play a large part in both the aesthetic appeal and durability of a building. This is why it’s crucial to make sure you choose a suitable material for these essential architectural features. In recent years, several specialized products have been designed and developed for the sole purpose of being used for soffits and fascias. So if you’re just starting with this critical aspect of your building project, you may have asked yourself: which material is best?
What is a Soffit?
Let’s first discuss the main purposes of soffits. Soffits are a component of the roof that help to conceal the rafters and fascia board. They also help to protect against water infiltration into the attic space, keep out vermin, and provide a foundation for insulation.
In addition to their primary functions, soffits are an excellent aesthetic feature of your home’s exterior design. Soffit material choices range from vinyl to sheet metal; however, these materials may not be suitable for all applications due to their weight, durability, and longevity.
Vinyl is a common building material but can be less attractive than other choices because of its wide use in the construction industry. Unfortunately, its ubiquity does not allow residential or commercial projects to truly stand out. FastPlank® Systems are available in 5 distinct woodgrain patterns to ensure your soffit makes the perfect design statement.
Another issue that can arise when vinyl is used on a soffit is the effect temperatures can have on the material. At colder temperatures, vinyl can crack. At warmer temperatures, it can possibly melt. Using FastPlank® prevents that situation from ever occurring due to the material our products are constructed from and the patented technology used during installation. Aluminum expands and contracts in extreme heat or cold. To ensure damage does not occur to the cladding, FastPlank’s “Clip & Slide” technology was developed to allow each plank to slide freely during temperature fluctuations, preventing issues such as buckling or bowing.
Aluminum is easier to maintain than vinyl. It requires less cleaning, as it can withstand pressure washing or a hose spray without fading in color. Vinyl is a more delicate material than aluminum and requires special cleaning methods. It is susceptible to color loss, surface abrasion, and other problems that can speed up the process of deterioration if homeowners are not careful with cleaners or tools when it comes time for maintenance.
Another popular material choice that is used for soffits is sheet metal. Sheet metal products are fastened directly to the substrate. This installation method can lead to warping and “oil canning” of the metal, as well as the inability to expand and contract. Our innovative clip attachment makes sure this will never happen. In addition, sheet metal products use a thin gauge of metal that can “sag” when hung on a soffit. Our extruded aluminum is a heavy enough gauge that the soffit will stay crisp with no sagging.
The fastening procedure for sheet metal products is also problematic. They are typically fastened by screws or staples, which can easily strip out of the wood substrate over time. FastPlank® Systems uses Clip & Slide™ technology for our clip attachments. This allows for independent movement of the soffit board but does not allow for any movement outwards or inwards.
Wood is a beautiful and timeless material for soffits and fascia, but it has some serious drawbacks. Wood products used on soffits are not fire-rated-meaning they have no protection against heat or smoke damage.
FastPlank® aluminum planks are non-combustible and resistant to extremely high temperatures and smoke damage, which is why they’re the perfect choice for homeowners looking for an easy way to add curb appeal to their homes without compromising safety.
Wood products are also high maintenance and must be re-stained every few years. The FastPlank® system requires minimal maintenance, so you can enjoy the look of wood without worrying about having to stain it again while enjoying the peace of mind of our 50-year product and 20-year finish warranty.
Endless Design Possibilities
FastPlank® Systems makes it easy to design the perfect look for your soffits. Choose from 5 distinct woodgrain patterns, then install the panels any way you like them. Our aluminum cladding can run parallel, perpendicular, or diagonal to the building along the soffit for many different looks.
Using long runs of other materials can result in gapping at the joints. Our planks are designed to fit together using our plank connector piece at the butt joints-eliminating this problem entirely by keeping everything flush and smooth looking throughout your entire project.
Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide which building material you choose for your soffit project. There are advantages and disadvantages to consider with metal, vinyl, and wood, but the reality is that neither of these materials is a perfect choice. FastPlank® Systems has gone above and beyond to ensure it is one of the safest, most durable, and best-performing building material currently on the market. When you trust us with your soffits, you’re trusting us with a significant aspect of your home that will be around for many years to come. So if you’re looking to work with a top-of-the-line soffit material, you can’t go wrong with FastPlank’s woodgrain aluminum cladding.