Timber-Framed Roofing Systems: Rafters Vs Trusses

Prospective new homeowners who wish to enjoy the benefits of timber-framed roofing need to understand the various options available at their disposal in order to make an informed decision.

With this in mind, here is a discussion on two among the available options for timber-framed roofing.

Rafters/ Stick Framing 

A large number of older houses feature this kind of roof frame.

Stick framing uses pieces of timber that have been cut to a pre-determined size and length (rafters) to connect the peak of a residential roofing system to the exterior walls. The bottom part of the rafters in a stick-framed roof is held in place using ceiling joists.

Advantages of using rafters for roof framing include, but they're not limited to the following:

  • Flexibility: The frame design can easily be changed without affecting the structural integrity of the roof or that of the rafters. This would prove important when a homeowner chooses to make last-minute adjustments to their roof design. It also makes it easier for home improvements/additions (e.g. additional storage space within the attic) to be incorporated into the roof design after the house has been constructed.
  • Suitability for remote locations: Because the stick-frame is assembled on-site, rafters are suitable for use in remote locations where the transportation of pre-fabricated frames (e.g. trusses) would be a challenge.

On the down side, the on-site assembly of "stick-frames" increases the amount of time required for their installation.  

The Truss

Wooden roof trusses pre-fabricate and they often assume a triangular shape. The typical wooden truss is made up of a top and bottom chord that's joined longitudinally using short pieces of timber However, the shape of the truss can be manipulated in accordance with the chosen roof design

Advantages of using wooden trusses for roof framing include, but they're not limited to the following:

  • Cost effectiveness: When compared to wooden rafters (for example), wooden trusses are often preferred for their cost effectiveness. This is because the length of individual pieces of timber used in truss construction is shorter than that of timber used to fabricate rafters. Thus, truss construction uses up less timber, which should be music to the ears of prospective homeowners.
  • Long spans: Trusses are also preferred for the fact that they can span over long distances in the absence of additional supports on the interior of the framing system. For the homeowner, this translates to the possibility of having a bigger roof (read house)

On the downside though, prospective homeowners who choose wooden trusses for their residential roofs will have to contend with a house that lacks attic space.