Rafters vs. Trusses: Which is Right For Your New Roof?

Rafters vs. Trusses: Which is Right For Your New Roof?

Rafters vs. Trusses: Which is Right For Your New Roof?

Whether it be the classic Cape Cod steep gable or sleek modern metal, constructing a durable roof is essential in ensuring structural integrity for your new home. Many homeowners select between rafters and trusses to construct their roofs. Truss roofs have become increasingly common over the years due to their lower price point, while some continue to opt for rafters to attain a classic house look. There are pros and cons to both rafters and trusses that are worth exploring when planning this stage of the home building process. 

Rafters are long wooden boards that form a stick framing pattern. These are typically cut on the job site into 2x10 or 2x12 beams. Rafters slope down from the peak of the roof and ceiling joists secure them to the exterior walls. 

Trusses are usually made in a factory and shipped to the construction site. Comprised of prefabricated lightweight wood, trusses are made most commonly made from 2x4 or 2x6 beams, but can sometimes be as large as 2x8. They allow for greater durability and come with the convenience of preordering them. Trusses have cords on the top and bottom and webbing posts arranged in different patterns, allowing weight to be more evenly to the outside walls.

Rafters: Advantages and Disadvantages 

Building a rafter roof requires less planning ahead of time as the beams are made directly on site. Homeowners can also gain additional attic space with the potential to create more living area, such as a finished master bedroom. Furthermore, rafters are more ideal for a remote job site, as the beams are made onsite and do not require transportation from a large truck or crane. Installing insulation is easier with rafters given the space between the beams and drywall. 

On the contrary, rafters end up typically being more expensive than trusses due to the higher wood and labor costs. Additionally, rafter beams are built on-site which prolongs construction time. Rafters are also not a DIY project. They require an experienced craftsman to make and install them. 

Trusses: Advantages and Disadvantages

Trusses are produced in a higher quality environment as they are made in a factory with highly accurate measurements. Roof trusses are preplanned, and therefore easier to install. Upon delivery, it may only take a few days to install the entire roof. The webbing pattern makes for a stronger, more load-bearing roof that can support more expensive materials. Trusses also come at a generally lower price point.

However, given the webbing pattern trusses are arranged in, it limits creating additional finished living space. Once trusses are installed, they are not adjustable. Adjustments after installment could affect the overall structural integrity and durability.

Which one is right for your home?

When choosing between rafters or trusses for your new roof, it ultimately comes down to the priorities of your new home. If the classic house look is the vision for the new home, rafters may help achieve that—but at a higher price point. However, if looking to cut costs yet still assure structural integrity, trusses may be an option worth further exploration. On the contrary, trusses limit additional living space. Therefore if the extra space is a priority of your home, rafters may be worth investing in to obtain the supplementary square footage. Both options are sound methods to achieve a roof to endure through the years to come.