Comparing Ridge Vents vs Box Vents - Roof Critics (2022)

Homes accumulate heat and moisture, whether you’re living in a hot, dry climate or a muggy, humid one. When hot and cold air comes into or out of a house, it can cause moisture to be built up and trapped where it’s most likely to escape the roof. You need to vent that heat or cold to prevent leaks, mildew, and mold caused by condensation.

Which vent you need depends mostly on your roof type, and it comes down to mostly two types of vents, ridge vents, and box vents.

We’re going to get into the pros and cons of each type, a detailed overview of each type, ridge, box, and maybe some alternatives. There will be some tips and tricks, but ultimately, if you’re struggling with deciding, contact a contractor you trust that can help you before you potentially damage your roof or choose something that won’t work for you.

What is a Ridge Vent?

A ridge vent is an air exhaust vent installed at the top of your roof where the roof will peak. An air slot made the roof’s peak and covered by the ridge vent itself.

(Video) Why You NEED Ridge Vent! RidgeVent vs Box Vent

This provides a continuous and uniform exhaust venting at the very top of the attic. They are specifically made to resist rain, snow, insects, animals, and debris from getting into your house. Typically, ridge shingles are installed to protect the ridge vent and make it look finished and even. However, metal ridge vents may not require ridge shingles.

Proper attic ventilation requires that air enter the attic and exit it without obstruction, creating a continuous airflow. This is a passive system, so it doesn’t take any energy to function.

Pros

  • Suppose you’re building a new home or replacing a roof, a ridge vent balances out the hot and cold air in your attic. Hot air rises, no matter the strength of your air conditioner, so your attic will always be a little hotter than the rest of your house. Ridge vents help the hot air escape. In colder months, the cold air outside keeps the heat in the roof and helps to save some money.
  • Roof ridge vents are sleek and go with the look of your house, and they are hard to notice from the ground. The silhouette of your house won’t be too affected by the vent. Due to its rather simplistic design, it’s easy to install along the entire peak of your house.
  • Ridge vents prevent animals like rodents from getting into your attic. An older roof vent might demand you use traps or other obstacles against animals, but a ridge vent doesn’t need that kind of protection.
  • Most ridge vents, when installed correctly, move air naturally without the need for electricity. As a result, your home is filled with fresh air, less moisture build-up, and no extra utility costs through air pressure and proper ventilation.
  • Ridge vents can help reduce your indoor pollution levels using the same techniques to operate functionally. An average person spends most of their day indoors, and indoor air can be up to 5 times worse than the outside air. Ridge vents, by way of accessing natural airflow, can reduce those levels and reduce that pollution. It helps people who suffer from allergies or other respiratory troubles.
  • Ridge vents work well independently, though they can work with other vents as well. In addition, ridge vents can draw moisture from your home all by themselves, which can ultimately help against mold and mildew build-up.
  • Ridge vents work no matter the season or the weather. They are designed to work all year. Due to their design being so close to the roof, weather changes don’t affect your attic that much.

Cons

  • For all their pros, they do still have some cons. Ridge vents aren’t a one-size-fits-all and can depend on the circulation of the rest of the house. If your house does not receive the circulation that the ridge vent makes, it can’t work as intended.
  • Ridge vents don’t suffer from weather changes much, but that might not be the case during extreme weather. They could leak water during heavier rainfalls. Attics will have to be inspected for water damage. The only way to stop water leakage is to remove the vent completely and replace it with something that will work for you.
  • Ridge vents are pricier initially because of the way they are built. The only other options are to choose ones that fit your budget. Older homes may require other vents with their ridge vents, which can get costly themselves as well.
  • Ridge vents work better in colder climates. In hotter environments, like the subtropics, there are cheaper and better ways to handle attic ventilation than ridge vents. Colder climates see the most use for attic ventilation. Also, make sure you have sufficient insulation to stop condensation from getting on your roof sheathing.
  • By their nature, they need to be installed at the peak of your roof, so if your home has a flat roof, then these are a no-go. If you only have a part of your roof that can be vented, it could reduce the effectiveness of the ridge vent.

What is a Box Vent?

Box vents get their names from their shape, looking like small boxes on the roof. They are placed over a hole cut into the roof, but they are not usually on or near the peak. Box vents are static vents, and while they can be effective, they are unmoving and less efficient on ridge vents that use natural airflow to their advantage.

Box vents pair with soffit vent systems, which lets the box vent pull warm air that escapes. If your attic is large, you may need more than one box vent to work well. Also, roofs with multiple levels will need box vents at those levels for proper ventilation.

(Video) The Best Type Of Roof Ventilation - Ridge Vent vs Box Vent

Pros

  • Box vents take advantage of natural convection to pull hot air up and out of the roof, along with any moisture. They have no moving parts, so they are essentially a covered gap in your attic.
  • They can be installed almost anywhere on your roof, so depending on your type of roof, you can use box vents for even nontraditional profiles of houses.
  • Box vents are also called low-profile vents or flat vents, as they don’t stick out from your roof too much. Many are available in dark colors that blend into your roof as well.

Cons

  • You may have to install more than one box vent on your roof, depending on its size. Box vents aren’t as effective as other venting methods and cover smaller areas. It depends on the square footage of your attic to how many box vents you may need.
  • Box vents aren’t effective alone. If box vents are the exhaust vent, they need an intake vent to push the hot air out of your attic.
  • Box vents can prevent outside elements from getting into your attic, and most are just as rodent-resistant as ridge vents.

Which one should you Choose Between Ridge Vent and Box Vent, and Why?

It all depends on your type of roof and the climate you are in. If you have a roof peak that can support ridge vents, those may be your better option.

As stated above, some climates don’t work for ridge vents, so you may want to find alternatives if you’re in a hotter zone.

Ridge vents can be more expensive, but they are more effective than box vents and hold up better against weather and wear. This will not work for all roof types, like flat roofs or complex roofs.

Can you Combine Ridge Vent and Box Vent?

If you have a roof that has multiple types of roofing, you could. If you have a roof and attic that can successfully support a ridge vent, box vents aren’t necessary.

(Video) A Look at Ridge Vent Types and Problems | Bats & Squirrels

If you live in a scorching climate where ridge vents aren’t as effective, then maybe not using them at all and going with other options will be your best bet.

Other Types of Vents

There are other types of vents you could use, but not all of them work on their own independently.

Soffit vents are installed in the soffit, the portion under the roof overhang, and pull air into the attic. They can vary in their looks, but they all function the same. These work best when paired with box vents or other types of venting.

Turbine vents are common, and wind causes them to spin and create airflow in the attic. Also, useful when paired with other vents to promote complete airflow.

(Video) Roofing Ventilation - Why Roof Ridge Vents Are Important!

Turtle vents, also called eyebrow vents, provide curved openings on roof slopes. These are most effective when used in pairs side by side to facilitate airflow.

How to Choose a Roof Vent

Check the size of your roof. This isn’t the only thing you need to consider, but it is a big factor. Climate, roof pitch, and venting locations play a big role too. Along with all other factors above, figure out your budget, the size of your roof, your attic’s needs, and consider your climate and environment.

Conclusion

Choosing a proper ventilation system for your attic can be a headache, but with a bit of help, you can choose the right one. Make sure you choose something that works for you and fits into your individual needs.

FAQs

Which is better ridge vents vs box vents? ›

Continuous ridge vents are more effective because they are installed at the peak of a roof's ridge, allowing for warm air to escape from the attic. It also works better because it creates a vacuum in your attic.

Should I replace box vents with ridge vent? ›

Should I keep my box vents with a new roof with ridge vents? - YouTube

What is the most effective type of roof ventilation? ›

Soffit Vents (Most Popular Intake Vent)

It forms one half of the most popular combination of intake and exhaust; soffit vents (for intake) with a ridge vent (for exhaust). Soffit vents are a favorite amongst home builders and roofers because they are unquestionably the most effective intake vent for the cost.

Is a ridge vent enough? ›

A ridge vent along with other vents that draw in colder air is enough ventilation. However, a ridge vent alone without some intake vents wouldn't do as much. We highly recommend installing soffit or gable vents along with a ridge vent or some other form of air intake.

Do ridge vents leak? ›

With proper installation and care, ridge vents should not leak. However, improper installation leads to leaky vents. In some cases, installers will use the wrong nails or shorter nails to secure the vents to the structure.

Are ridge vents worth the cost? ›

The truth is, most experts agree that though other roof vents allow some ventilation (which is better than none), ridge vents are the most efficient and cost-effective roof ventilation system around. Our recommendation is yes. Especially if you are installing a new roof, you want to extend its life as long as possible.

What is the best way to vent a roof? ›

Roof Ventilation for Finished Attics

The best way to ventilate a finished attic is rafter venting. Rafter vents, or insulation baffles, are installed in an attic's rafter space and create narrow gaps that direct fresh air from the soffit vents to the roof's peak.

Do I need an attic fan if I have a ridge vent? ›

Combining an attic power vent fan with a ridge vent is usually not recommended because: It could reverse the natural flow of hot air out the ridge vent. If air is drawn in through the ridge vent while it's raining, it might pull rainwater in with it, which could lead to leaking or mold in the attic.

Do ridge vents work when covered with snow? ›

Ridge vents with external baffles are not only better at keeping clear of snow (drawing right) but they are also more efficient at exhausting air from the roof cavity.

Can rain come in through ridge vents? ›

There are various entry points for moisture in your roof; rain can enter your roof through any of these. One potential entry point is the ridge vent. Ridge vents prevent moisture problems by letting warm air out, but wind-blown rain can enter if the vents are damaged.

Can you have too much roof ventilation? ›

The two main dangers associated with too much ventilation involve roof damage and increased utility bills. If you have too much air circulating, your roof will collect moisture causing damages that will weaken spots and then cause leaking.

Should ridge vent go all the way across roof? ›

If you're wondering whether a ridge vent should go all the way across a roof, it depends. You don't want to cut ridge vents all the way to the edge, but you can install vent caps all the way to the edge. The aesthetic you want will determine how far you place the vents.

How much ventilation do ridge vents provide? ›

Types of Ridge Vents and Net Free Venting Area per Linear Foot
Roof Ridge Outlet Ventilation Product ExamplesSq.In. of net free ventilation
GAF Cobra® rigid Ridge Vent-2, Ridge Vent 3, & Snow Country ridge vent products18 sq.in. per linear foot, covered by cap shingles
9 more rows

Do you need soffit vents if you have a ridge vent? ›

If there is no soffit venting, the ridge vent has no option but to pull air from the other side of the ridge vent. Now, there is a potential weather infiltration problem. Assuming that there is no infiltration issue, another possible consequence of a ridge vent without intake is a negatively pressurized attic.

How many vents should a roof have? ›

How Many Vents Do I Need? The general rule of thumb in these situations is of roughly one vent per every 300 square feet of attic area if the attic has a vapor barrier. If not, there should be one vent for every 150 square feet. You will need to have 1 square foot of vent area for every 150 square feet of attic space.

What is the best way to vent a roof? ›

Roof Ventilation for Finished Attics

The best way to ventilate a finished attic is rafter venting. Rafter vents, or insulation baffles, are installed in an attic's rafter space and create narrow gaps that direct fresh air from the soffit vents to the roof's peak.

Which is better attic fan or ridge vent? ›

If you had to choose just one—and your attic has a great need for ventilation—an attic fan is your best bet. Attic fans in the $300 to $400 range can move upwards of 5,000 CFM. For lower capacity ventilation at a steep cost savings, a ridge vent might be your best choice.

How many vents should a house roof have? ›

The rule of thumb used to determine the number of roof vents to install is one for every 300 square feet of attic area if your attic has a vapour barrier, and one for every 150 square feet of attic area if the attic does not have a vapour barrier.

How much extra is a ridge vent? ›

Ridge vents cost $2 to $3 per linear foot and come in various styles, ranging from $10 to $500 each. Ridge models run the length of a roof's peak and allow warm, moist air to escape.

Videos

1. What Are the Best Roof Vents?
(The Roofing Channel)
2. How-To Pick the Right Attic Vent | GAF Roofing
(GAF Roofing)
3. Top 4 Best Roof Vents Review 2022 | Which One Should You Buy?
(Legend Handyman)
4. Ridge Vents vs Solar Fans
(HomeShowRadio)
5. Be Aware of the Airflow Limitations of Roof Louvers/Box Vents
(Air Vent Inc)
6. Turbines vs Ridge Vents
(HomeShowRadio)

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