Roofing 101: What Is a Truss?

The more you know about roofing terms, the smarter your home design choices will be. This is why we try to explain obscure roofing lingo whenever we can. What’s one of the best terms to learn? The term ‘truss’. Why? The truss describes the overall framework and design of your roof!

About Roof Framing

The wooden frame of a roof includes everything aside from siding. This frame must be strong, carefully constructed, and contoured to the shape of the house. When American houses were first built, the normal frame was a “cut roof”— which means that individual rafters and beams were cut out and installed in a basic triangle shape with some vertical inner supports.

Cut rooftops were easy to build. However, as manufacturing technology increased— architects found a better way to create roof frames: The truss. A trussed roof is built (often away from the building site) as a series of interlocking rafters, joists and jacks. These make a series of A-frames with far better support than cut roofs. The added benefit? They could be installed as one piece when completed. Because these rooftops proved to be very sturdy and relatively easy to create, they soon became the popular choice for common wooden buildings.

Common Trusses Today

Today there are many different types of truss rooftops. They all share that interlocking, rafter-and-joist design, but come in many shapes and satisfy a variety of roofing needs. Some can be flat, some include storage area for an attic, and some are slanted to fill in a corner. Indeed, the versatility of trusses is one reason this style continues to be a popular choice for residential homes.

Note that trusses can be made from different material combinations as well. Some are all wood, some are all steel, and some are combinations of both. Certain designs may lend themselves more to wood or steel based on how they are constructed. Builders have many different names for trusses based on factors like shape and material. These names include dualpitch, Howe, Queen Post, Pratt, stub, Fink and more.

Picking a Truss

If you are remodeling a roof or installing a new roof, your plans probably already required a truss! Remember that trusses are often installed as one large piece, which makes this particular roofing task one of the most important: Give your builders plenty of space when the time comes to attach trusses!

Photo Source: Flickr

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