Rafters Vs Trusses: The Best Choice for Your Homes?

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Rafters Vs Trusses: The Best Choice for Your Homes?

Rafters Vs Trusses: The Best Choice for Your Homes?

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If you’re planning to build a new home, one of the most critical decisions you’ll have to make is the roof structure.

After all, you want a strong and stable house that can weather storms and keep you and your family safe, right?

Now, while rafters are the typical choice, especially for older structures, trusses are also top picks for their convenience and durability.

Read through our guide below to figure out which one’s right for your building project!

Roof Options for Your Home

Both rafters and trusses are good options for roof framing, but depending on your intended goals, one may be better than the other.

Before diving into comparisons, we’ll first explain what these are and how they work.


Rafter roof construction or “stick framing” is the most traditional way to roof a house because the whole process can be done on-site.

Rafters—usually made from wood or steel—are individually cut, measured, and joined together with collar ties to make up the roofing structure.

In order to successfully support the roof and roof sheathing, the rafters are laid side by side to form a triangular shape.

Fastened at the peak or the ridge board, the structural members slope down on each side until they reach the ceiling joist and the top of the walls.

Open, vaulted ceilings or structures without ceiling joists use a ridge beam instead. This is because unlike ridge boards, beams can support loads. They are also used in heavy-duty construction projects.

Nowadays, there are many types of rafter styles available. Here are some of the commonly used ones:

  1. Principal Rafters – The largest type of rafter
  2. Common Rafters – Smaller rafter
  3. Auxiliary Rafters – Used to hold up a principal rafter
  4. Compass Rafters – Curved at the top, bottom, or both
  5. Curb Rafters – Upper rafters in a curb roof
  6. Hip Rafters – Corner rafters for hip roofs
  7. King Rafters -Longest rafter on the side of a hip roof
  8. Valley Rafters – Rafter used on roofing valleys
  9. Jack Rafters – Rafters that are cut to fit the shape of the roof’s hip
  10. Barge RaftersFascia board for gable roofs

More often than not, you’ll end up combining a few of these to form a unique and functional roofing structure for your home. These provide a lot of space for an attic or other design features.




Unlike rafters, trusses are manufactured and assembled in advance.

They’re delivered fully-constructed, so all you’ll have to do is install them at the job site. This means that sometimes, the on-site process only takes a day!

Like a roof rafter, a roof truss has a triangular structure composed of the boards and the joist.

However, the difference is that its layout is more complex. Many planks are used to form a triangular webbing—this way, the webbing provides support for the roof and ties the walls together as well.

However, with trusses, you get limited attic space. If you require a small attic, the roof truss you choose needs to be flat.

Another con of the webbing structure is that it’s difficult to create cathedral ceilings. Although some types of trusses can make this happen, the ceiling won’t be very steep, and it won’t have as much of a dramatic effect.

Truss members can be made from wood or steel, depending on your needs and budget. Lumber is still the better option, though, as metal is prone to rust, and it is harder to install.

Some of the more popular truss styles include:

  1. Pratt Trusses – Used to give support to long-span buildings
  2. Warren Trusses – Trusses that form equilateral triangles
  3. North Light Trusses – For shorter spans in industrial buildings
  4. King Post Trusses – Trusses used for houses and domestic roofing
  5. Queen Post Trusses – Trusses used for houses and domestic roofing with a longer span
  6. Flat Trusses – Parallel trusses suitable for flat roofs
  7. Howe Trusses – Designed for heavy-duty bridges
  8. Scissor Roof Trusses – Used to support pitched roofing for vaulted ceilings
  9. Hip Trusses – Used to create a hip roof
  10. Fink Trusses – Basic webbed truss design for high-strength residential homes

Depending on how you envision the style of your home, your roofer may recommend one or a few of these truss designs to fit the specified look.



Side-by-Side Comparison

Now that you know more about the advantages and disadvantages of each, let’s see how they compare in terms of durability, functionality, and flexibility, and cost.

Rafters vs Trusses: Durability

A house always needs to have a strong and stable roof. Otherwise, you’ll be unprotected from leaks and harsh weather conditions.

It’s worth noting that a rafter is typically a 2×8, 2×10, or 2×12 plank, while a truss is a smaller 2×4.

Though stick framing utilizes larger-sized beams for extra support, a truss is better at effectively distributing weight because of its webbing. Thus, it doesn’t need internal walls for reinforcement.

Generally, though, both rafters and trusses are durable and can handle similar loads.

Rafters vs Trusses: Functionality and Flexibility

This is where you’ll see a bigger difference between the two.

If you want the freedom to create a high, open ceiling, or if you want extra storage/living space for a good-sized attic in your house, you’ll want to go for a rafter roof.

The truss structure uses up a lot of space, so you won’t have many potential areas to work with.

In addition, truss cons include strict planning beforehand.

Since trusses arrive at the job site fully formed, you have to ensure that you have all the proper equipment to accommodate its size and weight for delivery.

You also have to make sure all the measurements are correct. Otherwise, you’ll have to bring the whole piece back to the manufacturing site for adjustments.

That would be both time-consuming and costly, especially for homeowners in remote locations!

After its construction, it’s also almost impossible to incorporate any design changes, so you have to be 100% certain before placing an order. Altering any part of the webbing could also threaten its structural integrity.

However, assuming everything goes as planned, trusses are much quicker to install than rafters.

Since rafters are built on the job site, their construction time depends on the workers’ speed, the size and space of the home, and the number of adjustments made. This means construction could take a week or more!

Trusses are delivered just-in-time, so you won’t have to worry about unexpected rains delaying or damaging the work that’s being done.

Overall, rafters are ideal for maximizing living space and incorporating adjustments post-construction, but trusses are better options if you already have a good roof plan.

Rafters vs Trusses: Cost

In terms of cost, trusses are more expensive upfront because you have to pay for factory fabrication and shipping fees.

The large size means you need special equipment such as a crane to transport the truss system to your home too.

Rafters seem to be less expensive because of the low raw material cost, but they require labor-intensive work and immense skill. Because they’re more difficult to build and install, labor costs quickly add up.

Before you make your choice, ask for quotes from your local contractors so you can accurately compare prices. Sometimes, the difference between the two is minimal.

Usually, though, rafters cost more, save for smaller projects (such as sheds) or homes in remote, hard-to-reach areas.

To Sum It Up

For homeowners who simply want something low-cost, durable, dependable, and efficient, trusses are a good choice.

As long as you have a clear vision of what you want, there is little room for error during construction and installation.

On the other hand, homeowners who prioritize attic space, open design elements, and allowance for adjustments in their home may prefer rafters. Overall, it’s easier to be spontaneous with this option.

Final Thoughts

When building a home, always remember that structural elements are as important as the interior. These not only keep you safe but also help the house last a long time.

While both rafters and trusses are reliable choices, it’s best to use our guide to properly determine the right one for you!

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