Fascia is a board running horizontally under a roof edge, typically consisting of wood or sheet metal. Soffit is the layer of wood, vinyl or aluminum that extends from the bottom of the fascia to the top piece of your wall board. They help to protect the wood from weather, moisture, and allow air to flow through soffits and vents. Both of these are equally important to the proper installation of your roof, and commonly used to help hold up, and stabilize gutters.
Most modern homes have fascia, however, typically older Colonial or Victorian homes with ornate rafter tails do not. These older homes were originally created without fascia because it was believed that the big roof overhangs, created by these ornate rafter tails, were adequately large to repel water far enough away from the home. Although this is often the belief, it is not always true, and water can still find a way back into the foundation of your home. This water can also damage siding, paint, windows, and doors.
In these cases where a home has no fascia, it is possible to install gutters without it. However, we don’t often recommend it and here are a few reasons why:
- Fascia provides a layer of strength to help stabilize the gutter.
- Fascia allows a place for the soffit to attach (typically if there is no soffit there is no fascia)
- Soffit is vented which prevents winter ice, water from entering the home, and keeps the home cooler in the summer months.
- Open rafter without fascia get screwed into the end grain of the available wood which is not as strong as screwing it into the perpendicular wood of the fascia board (more strength and stability when you are able to screw into grains of wood that run horizontally).
- Open rafters with no fascia often allow for insects and animals to find their way into your home.
If your home does not have fascia, or it is damaged, it is recommended that you install/repair it prior to gutter installation. Symptoms of damaged fascia include peeling paint, warping, stains and crumbling wood.
If installing fascia is not an option for you, or your home, there is a way your gutter system can be hung without it, using a roof strap. The roof straps attach to the hidden hanger inside the gutter and secure right onto the roof. If the roof is older, it is not recommended to lift up the shingles to insert the strap. This can damage or break shingles. In most cases the roof strap must be secured on top of the shingles. Installing a gutter system using this process is strong, but is not often as strong as installing with a fascia. Roof hangers are also not as aesthetically pleasing. If your home has a slate, tile or cedar shingle roof, it is highly recommended that you do not use the roof strap method. In this case, you may have to build out the overhang and install fascia.