Soffit Vs. Eave: What's the Difference?

An image of soffit vs. eave.

Wondering what the difference is between a soffit and an eave? This guide to soffit vs. eave will explain all you need to know.

4 min read

If the words 'soffit' and 'eave' are unfamiliar to you, you're not alone. At first glance, these terms may seem odd. The thing is, you experience them both in everyday life. If you're now itching to know what they are, the good news is that you've come to the right place. Wondering what the difference is between a soffit and an eave? This guide to soffit vs. eave will explain all you need to know.

What is an Eave?

When we talk about the eave of a house, what are we referring to?

Put simply, an eave is the edge of a roof, which is why they're often called 'roof eaves'. If you look at the exterior of a house, the eaves will often stick out over the side of the building.

This provides both a practical and decorative function. In everyday conversation, the eave of a house has come to mean the underneath part of the roof that projects from the exterior siding. This is as opposed to a cornice, which is part of the entablature (underneath area) in Classical architecture.

In most attics, you'll find part of the eave visible. It's the angle where the roof meets the outside wall and it's a good place for insulation, as long as it doesn't get into your soffit.

What is Soffit?

And that brings us swiftly to the soffit.

This funny-sounding word typically refers to the horizontal underside of an eave which connects the fascia to the main body of a building. In reality, soffit could be the underside of almost anything constructed, like an archway or a flight of stairs.

Another way to explain it is to say soffit is the exposed siding underneath your roof’s overhang. Since your soffit is located on the underside of your roof, it’s usually not visible in terms of curb appeal.

Keep in mind that a soffit can be seen when up close to the house, especially when standing underneath it. Because of this, soffit is usually the same color and design as the siding of the home. However, it can be designed differently depending on your own preferences and tastes.

Along with this, soffit may be made from aluminum, wood, or vinyl. It’s important that you have a soffit material suitable for the climate you live in. For homeowners in the Midwest, vinyl soffit is the way to go. It's also important to keep your soffits in good condition to prevent serious, avoidable problems later on.

Soffit vs. Eave

Some people refer to soffit and eaves as one and the same.

Soffits and eaves literally overlap one another, so it's understandable that some confusion exists regarding whether they're the same thing. Despite their close physical proximity, they're very different from one another.

Remember that an eave is the lower edge of a roof which projects beyond the face of the wall. Here's a little anecdote to help you understand the difference between eaves and soffits.

Think of how a roof extends beyond the siding. Now think about when it rains hard and the rain rolls down the roof and onto the ground away from the building.

The term 'eavesdropper' came centuries ago from the fact that eavesdrop referred to the indentation line made around a structure when the rain rolled off the edge of the roof onto the ground. Anyone who stood very close to the house, on the eavesdrop, was probably trying to hear what was going on inside that house.

And, thus, the term eavesdropper was born.

So in summary, an eave is part of a roof system and a soffit, in that context, is part of the eave. Clearly, eaves and soffit are two different parts of the same structure.

The Next Steps

Usually, people only pay attention to the prominent features of their home. Doors, roofs, and windows are the main points of attention in most cases. But it’s critical not to overlook the smaller stuff.

Knowing at least the basics about features like soffits and eaves will help you to make informed decisions about the upkeep of your house. Doing your research will allow you to make better choices and will ultimately save you time and money in the long-run.

Now you know a bit more about the difference between soffit vs. eave, what are the next steps? Check-in with us for more information about eaves and soffits and their results for the price.

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