David Hanson

When I began my apprenticeship with my father in the 1970s, clear 3/8-inch-thick tongue-and-groove cedar was widely available at a reasonable price, and we often used it for soffit material. For true economy projects, we switched to rough-sawn 1 1/32-inch plywood. If we needed venting, we installed continuous 2-inch aluminum soffit strip vents, which have a thin profile that works well with thinner stock.

As prices for cedar began to climb, we started finishing our soffits with less-expensive primed 4/4 stock, typically MiraTEC trim (miratectrim.com), a composite made from wood fibers and phenolic resins. It costs about 20 percent more than OSB exterior trim in our area, and it’s a little harder to nail — it seems almost as dense as maple — but...

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