When replacing vinyl siding, many problems commonly occur installing around soffit and fascia. The smart contractor sees these ahead of time and preps both customer and crew.

Issues The first issue is untrained salesmen, according to Mike Sloggatt of Mike Sloggatt Home Improvement in Levittown, N.Y. If your salesman bids jobs by square footage alone, he'll miss details. Salespeople need to do a complete and thorough estimate, one that takes into account any potential problems, such as wood rot, and ventilation —or the lack of it.

Steve Whitacre of Amazing Siding Corp., in Charlotte, N.C., sees a lot of wood rot on fascia, especially on houses with gutters and particularly at corners. He also encounters soffits that require venting. For gutters, Whitacre's crews take the gutters down and replace them when the fascia is wrapped. “It takes us more time and costs a little more, but if you don't take the gutters down, you can only get the vinyl coil stock to wrap the fascia up to the gutter nails. The right way to do it is to bend it under the roof shingles as a drip edge. Not doing it is the cheap way out.”

Lousy Looking Work When Whitacre runs across unvented soffit he informs his customers that 3-inch continuous soffit vents are code. He also informs them that venting prolongs the roof's life and helps control cooling costs.

In Sloggatt's market, he sees many ¼-inch plywood soffits. “Anything over 1-foot wide needs to be furred out because it isn't suitable backing for the new soffit material. It's usually lumpy or has some rot.” On fascia he sees material that is not straight. “If you try to follow the fascia's bend with metal, it'll oil-can.”

A big warning sign, according to Sloggatt, is when rake boards are flush with existing siding. When the new siding is applied, it will be proud of the rakes — i.e., the siding plane will extend beyond the rake board — and that looks bad. If you pad the fascia to match, you'll have a problem with shingle coverage. You will either have to weave in new shingles (ugly), cover the gap with metal (ditto), or sell the customer a new roof. Missing this detail is the short track to lousy looking work and an unhappy customer. “The key is to see the problem early,” Sloggatt says, “and give the customer the information necessary to make a choice.”