Roof trusses are overtaking rafters as the best way to create a roof frame, and for a good reason—they’re more convenient, more affordable, and extremely versatile.
Roof trusses create a roof’s frame and determine the roof and ceiling’s shape while providing support. They are pre-engineered with lightweight materials and shipped directly to construction sites. While the styles of roof trusses vary greatly, they all consist of the same general parts.
Why Roof Trusses Are Gaining Popularity
One of the main reasons that roof trusses are becoming the go-to is because they can offer the same amount of support as rafters at a much lower cost. While rafters are made from large, heavy pieces of lumber and require expert-level skills to install on the job site, roof trusses are lighter and can be installed by most construction laborers. That means that not only the construction costs of roof trusses are lower, but so are the labor costs.
Another advantage of roof trusses is that they distribute the roof’s weight onto the exterior walls rather than the interior ones. That means that, with few or no interior load-bearing walls, contractors can create more open-concept living spaces, which are also gaining popularity quickly.
Related: Roof Consulting, Repair, and Replacement FAQs
The Six Most Common Roof Trusses for Your Home
There are countless roof truss designs to create roof framings for almost any style. From king post trusses to gable roofing, there’s a truss that will fit your needs. Let’s look at the most popular roof trusses and what you should know about them.
- King Post Roof Trusses
Commonly used for garage construction, home additions, and short-span projects, king post roof trusses typically span five to eight meters. They are one of the most basic truss designs and consist of two top chords, a single bottom chord, two webbing chords, and a vertical “king post.”
Because they require few materials and have a simple design, king post roof trusses come at one of the lowest price points. However, they cannot span long distances and are only suited for smaller-scale projects.
- Queen Post Roof Trusses
Commonly used for home additions and residential home construction, queen-post roof trusses typically span eight to twelve meters. They are similar to king post trusses in that they have a sturdy and simple design, but instead of having a single king post in the center, they have two “queen posts” connected by a straining beam.
The second vertical post makes them slightly more expensive, but it also allows queen-post roof trusses to span over a greater area, making them more useful for larger projects.
- Fink Roof Trusses
These are the most common roof trusses used in residential roof construction. They have a “W”-shaped webbing that gives these trusses an exceptional load-carrying capacity. It also allows for extra storage space and can accommodate other things like water tanks if needed.
Spanning up to 14 meters, fink roof trusses are one of the most cost-effective, efficient truss designs available and are suitable for almost any residential project.
- Attic Roof Trusses
Mostly used for loft living space and attics, attic roof trusses can span up to 25 meters. A downside to many roof trusses is that the webbings often offer limited attic space, which can be a dealbreaker for homeowners looking for that extra living space or storage room. Luckily, these trusses are built specifically to allow for attic spaces.
They look similar to queen-post roof trusses, but the two vertical posts are further apart, allowing for attic space. The wider the building is, the larger the attic space will be, and the steeper the roof pitch, the taller the attic ceiling.
- Scissor Roof Trusses
For residential homes with vaulted ceilings, scissor roof trusses are the go-to and can span up to 22 meters. These trusses make vaulted ceilings possible due to their sloped design. They combine the convenience and speed of wood trusses while maintaining the aesthetics benefits of high ceilings.
They are more expensive than many roof trusses, but there’s an additional advantage they bring: you can install scissor trusses in certain parts of your home and use other types in different areas while keeping a uniform look from the outside.
- Gable Roof Trusses
For residential gable roofs, these roof trusses are typically installed in combination with other trusses. They serve as an end cap for the roof and have two top chords, a single bottom chord, and multiple vertical posts depending on the size of the building.
Gable roof trusses are built on both ends of the roof to support the sheathing. They cost more than standard trusses but are only used on the end of the roof, not throughout the entire structure.
Roof Trusses: Pros and Cons
Here’s why roof trusses are becoming the standard for residential construction:
- Superior span and strength—The span and strength of roof trusses are superior to rafters. They can reach spans of up to 60 feet, compared to about 30 feet. The webbing also provides exceptional structural strength.
- DIY-friendly—If you’re building a roof yourself, trusses are much easier to make than rafters.
- More affordable—Prefabricated roof trusses cost anywhere from 30-50% less than the labor and material costs of building rafters on a construction site.
- Better fabrication—Roof trusses are built in a controlled factory environment, meaning there are usually fewer mistakes and more consistent specifications.
There are some reasons why contractors go with rafters, though. Let’s take a look:
- Shipping costs—Roof trusses are pre-assembled, meaning they’re large and heavy, and they can incur high shipping costs.
- Less flexibility—Because of their webbing, you have more limited options regarding the space above and below them.
Related: 7 Signs You Need Roof Repairs or Replacement
Is a Roof Truss the Best Option For Your Building?
Roof trusses have become increasingly popular over the years. However, rafters are still preferred for some projects. No matter if you decide on roof trusses or rafters for your home or business, it’s important to consult with an expert before moving forward. While you can save money on many projects by going the roof truss route, in some cases, traditional rafters might be a better option.
Thinking about installing roof trusses or not sure if rafters are the right choice? Get in touch with our roofing experts today!