Gutters and Facias Information
If you don’t know your facias and soffits from your gutters, bargeboards or box ends, then this guide is designed to walk you through all the design aspects of your roof. It is one area of the home that many of us overlook, particularly when it comes to older buildings where a quick coat of paint can mask potential damage such as damp and rot.
A Guide to the Edge of Your Roof
The edge of your roof, where it settles onto the walls of the building, is actually a complex place, an intricate array of gutters and facias, soffits and even the odd birdcomb. The terminology is almost as confusing as the construction itself.
- Fascias: These run alongside the roof and protect the rafters from problems such as damp, ensuring the wood underneath does not get damaged. Guttering is usually connected to the upper part of the facia.
- Soffits: These lie under the facia and protect the bottom of the rafters that make up the skeleton of the roof. Together soffits and facias form a sealed off box that keeps everything underneath safe.
- Guttering: This normally fits on top of the facia and, as you would expect, is used to collect water that runs off the roof. In older homes, guttering is generally made from wrought iron but in newer builds we use uPVC which is not so prone to rust and lasts a lot longer.
- Bargeboard: When facias are fitted to a gable end then they are known as bargeboards. These are used not only for decorative purposes but to protect the underlying roof as well. Because of the slope of the gable there is no guttering attached.
- Box Ends: When you get to a corner then you need to tidy off the facias, soffits and bargeboards with a covering that seals as well. A box end is basically a cap that covers a corner or end.
- The Downpipe: At strategic intervals you will have a downpipe to collect the water from the gutters and carry it down to the drain below.
- Sprockets: Both facias and soffits need something to be attached to. Sprockets are added to the roof to fix them in place and are made from uPVC. Aligning these properly is the major part of making sure that the facias fit properly.
Soffits require some form of ventilation if they are to work properly and these are usually manufactured into the panels at the factory. You might also add additional protection from runoff water with a roof guard protector that fits behind the facia and soffit and curves into the guttering. If there are gaps in the construction once finished, which there may certainly be in older houses, you can fit what are called birdcombs which prevents animals trying to nest there.
Types of Guttering
There are different types of guttering depending on the shape and size that you require including:
- Half round gutter
- Square gutter
- Ogee gutter
- Deepflow gutter
- Industrial gutter
If you are intending to harvest rainwater and want to drain it into a water butt below then you may want to include options such as filters at the heads of drains as well as a larger size gutter to catch the maximum amount of water.
Problems with Soffits and Facias
- In older houses most soffits and facias are made from wood which needs to be regularly painted and maintained. After a while, the paintwork blisters and uncovers the untreated wood beneath. Once rot begins to spread this can affect the integrity of the whole roof.
- Leaking gutters are one area where people notice a problem straight away. When water during a rain storm starts falling in the wrong place it is imperative that the guttering is repaired straight away. This can be a problem with metal or wrought iron guttering, especially if it is not painted regularly.
- Other problems for older properties is the presence of asbestos which may have gone undetected for years. This needs professional removal.
- With most roofs there is the potential for infestations, mostly from birds but also bats and other animals that might like a comfortable place to set up home.
Regular Checks of Facias and Guttering
Especially if you have an old home that has wooden facias and soffits, it is important to keep up with the maintenance side of things. That means getting the areas around your roof regularly inspected and repairing any damage. Even if you have the uPVC facias, soffits and guttering that are more popular nowadays it doesn’t mean you should leave things to chance. You should check over the area at least once a year. This all ideally needs to be done by a professional who knows what they are looking for, even if you have a pretty good level of DIY skill.
The Cost of Facias and Guttering
Cost can vary tremendously depending on whether you just need repairs or a full refit. Even something simple like replacing a bargeboard can cost in the region of £400. Replacing everything can certainly stretch into the thousands with the need for access equipment such as scaffolding and removing and disposing of the old facias and guttering. For a medium sized property, you should be expecting to pay at least £1,500 to £2,000.
Manufacturers of Facias and Guttering
There are a large number of manufacturers and suppliers of roofing products who deal mainly with uPVC facias and soffits. These can either be purchased direct online or from a mainstream DIY stores.
Most installers will have their own suppliers and the quality is fairly settled across the spectrum. If you are contemplating replacing wood facias then a builder should be able to source the right materials for you but most would advise a move towards more protective and easier to maintain uPVC solutions.
Installers of Facias and Guttering
The area around your roof is complex and even the simple task of fitting new guttering can pose significant challenges. It is best to get in a professional tradesman who knows what they are doing and can make sure your roof is not left open to damage from the rain.
Find out more from our facia and guttering installer tips.