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How do roof trusses work?

 Ever wondered what roof trusses are or how they work? They’re an essential part of houses with sloped roofs, but not everyone understands how they work. Let’s take a look at what they are, the two basic types, and what builders have to consider when making choices related to the trusses.

What is a roof truss?

A roof truss is the framework between the ceiling inside your house and the sloped roof outside your house. It holds your roof decking up and determines the slope and design of the roof on your house.

Essentially, it’s the structural element that supports the roof. Once you have the walls up on the house you set the trusses on top, then you install the decking and the other roof materials.

Types of roof trusses

When you get into the details, there are dozens of types of roof trusses. But they tend to fall into just two categories:

  • On-site trusses, often called stick-built
  • Pre-engineered and pre-manufactured trusses

On-site trusses are built on the job site when a house is being built. Most, however, are pre-engineered and manufactured off-site, then delivered to the job site and installed.

The type of roof truss that is used on the house really depends on the plan, the architect, or the builder. Sometimes price is an issue, as engineered trusses are generally a little pricier than on-site trusses.

In the old days, pre-engineered trusses weren’t even an option. You had more skilled labor building the house than you generally do today. Now the actual labor building the house doesn’t understand the geometry of the house or how to calculate roof loads. That does keep the cost down, though.

Considerations with roof trusses

Each roof is customized to a specific home. Now if a builder builds the same model home over and over again, the trusses are going to be the same from one house to the next. That’s one reason why when you make changes to a builder’s plans, you run into pricing considerations.

Another major consideration is the ceiling underneath the truss. When you have a vaulted ceiling, that takes a special design for the roof truss. Coffered ceilings or tray ceilings can impact the design as well because of those extra design elements.

So, if you’ve been wondering about roof trusses, now you know what they are, the two primary categories that exist, and special circumstances that have to be taken into consideration.

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