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Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

Posted by slowdowntohurryup (My Page) on
Tue, Feb 21, 12 at 13:30

Have narrowed search of contractors down to a couple and in general they are about the same on price. They both come highly regarded - yet one swears by trusses and the other by stick framing the roofline (no trusses). Anybody have any experience with stick framing? We looked at a house going up this way and it looked well built, yet it seemed to be of course taking them a little longer (if it matters - the roof does have several roofline changes)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

Our builder stick built the roof. I don't know which is better...but our old house had trusses, and this attic has so much more headroom!


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

I have an old-fashioned builder's distrust of trusses, but am now using them as they save me at least $5k per house. If your builder is using trusses, there are several measures that can be taken to reduce the effects of truss uplift.

Storage Truss
Storage Trusses

If you plan to use the attic space, be sure to specify storage trusses.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

I believe residential roof trusses represent a false economy for a roof with a ridge height over 8 ft because the potential value of that space for future use is many times greater than the initial savings.

In renovations, existing trusses have prevented me from adding elevators, skylights, and cathedral ceilings so they have not only cost me design fees but made me acutely aware of how shortsighted it is to use them.

So, I would say roof trusses make sense for developers or for a custom designed house with a roof slope lower than 6 in 12 or if the owner doesn't plan to own the house for very long. But it is hard to put a price on drywall cracks from truss uplift.

I haven't found a reason to specify a roof truss in 40 years nor has anyone ever suggested that I do so.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

If you are doing your own labor- are trusses still cheaper? I'm considering stick framing because I can actually build the roof single-handed, something that would be (nearly) impossible with trusses. I'm looking at a 6/12 pitch spanning 32', in a light snow and wind load area.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

We had to switch from stick frame to trusses because of the walls. The supporting wall for the stick frame would not work for the room size. Not sure if that makes sense, but that is what the architect said.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

thanks for the comments --- question about the following comment from above -

"I would say roof trusses make sense for developers or for a custom designed house with a roof slope lower than 6 in 12 or if the owner doesn't plan to own the house for very long. But it is hard to put a price on drywall cracks from truss uplift."

when you say lower than 6/12 -- you would consider a 10/12 higher correct? our roofline is a 10/12 pitch

And I can google truss uplift - yet any layman descriptions of what that is?

we would not be using the "attic space" as the house has a cathedral ceiling and the rest of the house does not have room enough for a 1/2 or second story.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

The bottom chord (at ceiling) of a truss sometimes rises upward at its middle and causes cosmetic problems with the drywall. This is a subject that will probably be debated forever.

A cathedral ceiling is usually constructed with rafters but it is possible to use special trusses. If you don't want the attic spaces for living or storage you can use trusses but I recommend using Type C fire rated drywall on all ceilings below lightweight wood trusses to provide greater protection from collapse in a fire.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

thx for the reply --- interesting concept as i can see where that could come into play.

question about possible prevention of this on trusses -- or maybe this is just something the builder does --- he takes 1x4s and slats the bottom of the trusses throughout the house -- i didnt ask him specifically --- but buddy said that it helps on attaching the drywall-- could see where it could also help on tying everything together?


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

Are you, per chance, from Rhode Island, where that's a common and effective building practice?


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

actually from the south (LA) -- thought it was a little odd when I saw it -- but maybe its more common than what I think/know..just dont remember seeing it ever before


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

If the drywall is attached to the 1X4's, it is used to level the ceiling. Trusses aren't all that straight, and you can shim the furring to get it level. Most builders just shoot popcorn on the ceiling and call it good, but for a really nice ceiling, the strapping is a good way to go. Plus, you can put them on 16" centers, which helps prevent future sagging of the drywall when placed on 24" centers. Thirdly, it helps create a thermal break from the trusses.


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RE: Roof - Trusses or Stick frame?

Strapping not only allows a more level ceiling, it makes it easier to align the drywall joints on the supports. It also ties the bottoms of the joists together and allows the drywall panels to span across twice as many supports.

In New England it is standard practice to use 1x3's that are cut and surfaced for that purpose so they are about 5/8" x 2 1/4". There's no reason use 4S 1x4's.

Also, in the Boston area joist lumber is usually KD S-P-F, and ceilings are usually non-textured veneer plaster "blueboard" so a contractor would be taking the risk of disappointing an owner by not using strapping.


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