exposed trusses in kitchen and LR?

yhremodelNovember 23, 2006

For some weird reason our 1980's split level ranch has has less than 8" tall ceilings in the upstairs (7'6"). The daylight basement part is fine with 8' 8" ceilings. Over We are now gutting out the upstairs and expanding and remodeling the kitchen & breakfast nook area. We very much want to vault the ceiling or do something that will make the ceiling taller and more open (has always felt too low).

The truss designer and engineer our contractor went to decided the only way to vault is to remove the entire existing roof, put on new scissor trusses, and reroof, etc. This is VERY costly, quite complicated, and would delay finishing our project until dry weather (we live in a wet cold part of the Northwest). The price is quoted at $40K to end up with 16' wide vaulted area instead of the existing flat 7'6" ceiling.

Our contractor suggested instead we should think about removing the ceiling sheet rock and exposing the trusses (10 of them, spaced 2' on center). They would wrap the trusses with nice stained veneer, insulate between the top boards and add tongue-and-groove on the new "ceiling' part. Then, they would add a series of skylights on the north side. Sounds interesting, but seems way too clutterd with the trusses every 2 feet.

Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? Would it be possible to beef up the truss system and then remove every other one (4 of them) to give 4' spacing? Of course we would have to go to an engineer on this, but just are trying to figure out what to even consider at this point.

Thank you for any and all feedback and suggestions!

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Be sure the trusses don't need to be horizontally braced at their bottom chords before removing the ceiling.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2006 at 4:47PM
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    Bookmark   November 26, 2006 at 4:37PM
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Update: After a surprisingly difficult effort, I finally found a truss engineer who designed on-site modifications of our existing trusses while they are in place. This will give us a 2.5:12 interior pitch. From this, we decided to have our GC create a "stepped tray ceiling" to increase the height of the ceiling.

We are leaving a soffit around the entire kitchen/sitting/breakfast nook greatroom where we will have lighting and hang the kitchen cabinets. Then the ceiling will step up from there to about 9.5 feet.

Materials are inexpensive, with select grade 2 x 4s, plywood, and nails.

They plan to tear our our existing ceiling sheetrock tomorrow! Hopefully it will all turn out as nice as we hope.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 11:17PM
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I'm so glad you found a solution! Would you mind sharing a few more details? We are facing almost the same situation (and also live in the beautiful, wet NW). Could you share how large an area you are remodeling, and what the estimate came out to? Any other details would be highly appreciated.
Thank you, and again, congrats on finding a great solution.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2007 at 2:36AM
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The truss engineer designed modifications of our existing "fink" sytle trusses. These include adding 3 additional "webs" , cutting the existing webs shorter a specified amount, and adding new bottom chords. (There is a good discussion of truss types and terminology at

Plywood gussets are to be cut and nailed on to connect it all together.

The material needs are pretty inexpensive, including select-grade 2x6s, 2x4s, and plywood. We are raising the ceiling on a 28' x 18' room. We think the material cost is about $900. We also had to have an existing air conditioning unit moved and some A/C ducts moved.

We don't know yet what the labor costs will be (we are deviating from our bid to go time & materials for this part). Our GC guestimates about $2,000, including the new sheetrock, but it could go a bit higher.

The only "bummer" in all this is that we live in a heavy snow-load area by Mt. Hood (70 lbs per square feet, vs. Portland's 25) so we couldn't get quite the pitch we hoped for. But, even then it's going to be a big improvement.

The building department approved the changes very quickly as an add-on to our existing permit.

Hope this helps! I'll check back in case there are more questions.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 5:08PM
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Can you send some before and after pics? Maybe some pics of the truss design before and after too. My wife and I think you may have just found the answer to our prayers :)
We live in Tampa, FL

    Bookmark   January 12, 2007 at 7:29PM
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I don't know if this is to your taste, but this is what we have in our main living areas. Instead of trusses, we have tie rods that span the space. They're just 1-1/2" pipes with a bracket welded on each end and the brackets are then bolted to the rafters. They're 4' apart and make for a much cleaner look than exposed trusses.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2007 at 2:37AM
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Kudzo9 = neat looking room!

Dallas -- Sorry for the delay. Have been overloaded with remodeling these days. I'll figure out a way to provide some before and after pics. They finished the alteration of the 10 trusses in 4.25 days of labor (2 guys the first 2 days, 3 the others).

We really like it so far (of course it's very cold without insulation and the 13 degree weather we had last week!).

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 8:32PM
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Hello. Seems to be a northwest issue:) We are contemplating doing this to a house we are looking at buying and remodeling. How did you find your contracter? Also, is there anything that you asked them in particular regarding this?? We are looking at lifting our ceilings in our family room/dining area and want any ideas we can get. The bedrooms have lofted/cathedral ceilings, just not the main room. Also is there any way to do a coffered ceiling and raise the ceiling as well?? thanksf or your help!!!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 5:34PM
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Thanks yhremodel, I can't wait to see pics. If it is easier my email is


    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 8:10PM
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Please do post pics on here. I think there are several of us who are very interested. Also, I don't know if it's too much, but I live in the Portland area, too. Would you mind sharing the name or website of your architect/truss engineer who worked this out?
Thanks tons!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 3:00AM
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Any pictures or updates?? :)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 10:08AM
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I live in Oregon as well (Salem area) and have been trying to figure out a similar solution to my low ceilings. I'd love to see pictures too. Also, I LOVE your room, kudzo9! How tall are the exposed pipes that are 4ft spaced?

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 4:27PM
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Hi! I know this is long after your original posting, but am getting ready for what sounds to be an exact project. We living in a Seattle-area tri-level home and are working around the same problems. Were you ever able to post photos of your before/after? Or at least your after? Would be greatly appreciated. We are as far as opening up the dry wall of the original low ceiling...

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:42PM
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Here's one example of trusses exposed and clad in a ranch house. Note there was no rebuild of the trusses to gain any pitch to the ceiling a la scissor rebuilds discussed in this thread. Just left open and insulated up top. I also like the use of skylights spanning multiple truss bays. (No association whatsoever to this project.)


Construction Photos/Blog:

Here is a link that might be useful: Exposed & clad truss kitchen

    Bookmark   November 4, 2013 at 11:18PM
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