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What Is a Soffit?

What Is a Soffit?

Designers and contractors throw around the term “soffit” quite often, but if you aren’t familiar with it you may be wondering what a “soffit” really is.  Read on to find out…

A soffit is simply a portion of the ceiling that has been built lower than the area around it.  Although they aren’t as popular today, soffits were quite common in the kitchens of older homes, like this one.  Here, you can see the soffit built above the cabinets, filling in the space between the top of the cabinetry and the ceiling.

Kitchen with soffit

Sometimes, a soffit can fill an entire room or area in a home, like in this family room bar.  The area over the bar was lowered to create a cozy, intimate feeling, while the rest of the ceiling was built as high as possible.

Soffit over bar

Soffits are often just a decorative element in a room, but sometimes they are required for various reasons.  Some soffits conceal plumbing pipes or heating/cooling ducts; this is often the case when soffits are building in the lower levels of homes.  Other times, often in kitchens or bathrooms, soffits house light fixtures.  Recessed light fixtures installed over kitchen or bathroom sinks, for example, are often installed into a soffit.  Another reason soffits may be required in a room, has to do with the structure of the home itself; the soffit may be concealing a structural beam.

If you have an older home and you would like to remove an existing soffit, be sure that it is safe to do so.  Check for any ductwork, electrical lines, lighting or structural issues that may exist before proceeding with your project.  If you are unsure, it is best to consult a professional contractor before moving ahead.

You also may consider adding soffits to a room, simply for decorative purposes.  In a room with very high ceilings, a soffit can create a feeling of coziness in an otherwise cavernous space.  You can use a soffit to highlight a particular area in your home, as well; perhaps you want to accent your kitchen by lowering the ceiling in just that area of a home with an open floorplan.  While soffits are often built just like interior walls are – with studs and sheetrock – they can also be clad in wood, tile or any other decorative material.  The options for soffits are endless!

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2 Responses to What Is a Soffit?

  1. [...] say that you installed a soffit over your kitchen island, and now you wish to add pendants above the countertop.  If the soffit extends down from the [...]

  2. [...] on the other hand, is the part underneath the overhangs of your roof.  (Not to be confused with an interior soffit, explained here).  This can also be made of sheet metal, wood or fiber-cement board.  Both the fascia and soffit [...]

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