Trusses vs Rafters – Examining the Ribcage of Your Roof

Trusses vs Rafters

Let’s look at trusses vs rafters. Most modern roofs are built with the familiar triangle design of the “pitched roof.” This fact isn’t surprising since the roof pitch’s functional capabilities have been a staple in engineering since the bronze age. While the design looks relatively straightforward, there is more to these structures’ makeup. Indeed, modern home construction features two types of pitched roofs; In other words, there are two types of roof skeletons or support frames.

These are commonly called “rafters” and “trusses,” respectively. While both structures serve the same function (to support the roof), each design has its benefits and unique suitabilities, essential for understanding specific building projects.

Rafters are the most basic of roof support, both structurally and in reference to design. These structures are triangular, just like the outside appearance of your standard suburban house. The rafters’ main characteristics are the two exterior beams, which provide the most stability to the structure. It serves like a ribcage made up of 2x4s, allowing for a shingled roof’s sturdy construction. There are spaces between the perpendicularly aligned wood planks, which allow room for insulation. The pros and cons of rafters are listed below.


-Rafters are cheaper than trusses due to the simple structure they possess. Therefore, rafters are the more practical, affordable and less time-consuming choice when it comes to roofing.

-Furthering its practicality; the simple design of rafters allows for them to be constructed on-site.

-Rafters are slightly cheaper than the intricate make of trusses, which require precise work to be pre-assembled and delivered.

-Creates more opportunities for internal spaces.


-The extra work done to build the truss of the roof could technically require extra payments when hiring additional labour.

-Due to the simplicity of rafters, somebody can’t build more complex/ specific structural aesthetics.

-By default (due to construction), rafters offer less support than trusses.


Trusses – A basic definition

Trusses are the structurally complex cousins of rafters. While rafters may get the job done, they feature far less structural capabilities in comparison. The defining characteristic of trusses is triangles in between the main support beams, which spreads the tension throughout the structure. These can be used for ordinary pitched roof styles or can be used to create specific styles.


-Trusses are pre-made in factories with precision. In other words, there is a guaranteed high quality to truss construction.

-Offers far more structural support for a roof than rafters.

-Slightly faster assembly due to pre-made manufacturing.

-The internal structures may inhibit or limit the number of internal changes inside the roof. Such examples include not being able to create an attic.


-Trusses must be delivered, which can be difficult, depending on the area of construction.

-Slightly more expensive for the assembly and delivery fee.


Rafters and trusses effectively accomplish the same thing; however, each structure’s abilities may be applied more to certain situations compared to others. To summarize, rafters are excellent for simple roofs with an opportunity to create living space/ attic space due to the spaciousness of the support beams. Likewise, trusses are far more structurally sound due to the interlocking supporting triangles and being factory-built. Further, they leave less living space while potentially being more expensive due to delivery costs and product complexity.

October 15, 2020

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