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Frequently Asked Questions About Trusses

Trusses are special wood frames for roofs. These frames are usually so strong that a structure typically doesn't need load-bearing walls under trusses, and many structures even leave their trusses exposed for a rustic or open and airy look. If you're having a home or any other structure built, or if you are considering a renovation for your current building, note a few questions you might have about trusses so you know if they're the right choice for your plans.

What is the difference between trusses and rafters?

Rafters are a type of roof beam; unlike trusses, rafters are not typically strong enough to hold up a structure on their own, so a building constructed with rafters will usually need load-bearing walls or columns. Rafters are also typically thinner than trusses, so they're cheaper to manufacture, although a structure may require more rafters than trusses during construction. Rafters are also rarely left exposed, as they're not meant to offer a rustic look.

Also, note that trusses are made in a factory and shipped to a construction site, whereas rafters are cut and fit onsite. Creating rafters onsite can require more time than putting trusses in place, and this job also often means more wood waste is created during construction.

Can you retrofit trusses?

If you're looking to renovate a home or other building, you can typically retrofit trusses onto the structure. A contractor or structural engineer can note the amount of work that would need to be done to remove a current roof, attic or other such areas of a home or building, and they can also note if interior walls could then be removed or what would be required to keep those walls in place. Whatever the case, you can usually retrofit trusses onto any home or building, for the entire structure or just part of it, to create an open and rustic look.

Do trusses need maintenance?

The wood used to make trusses is very dense and strong, as said, and it can last for decades, if not even centuries. Rarely will trusses ever chip, crack, bow or otherwise need repairs. However, note that if you decide to paint the trusses, you may need to refresh the paint on a consistent basis. Also, while trusses are very sturdy, it's good to have them inspected if your house or other structure suffers an earthquake, fire or other disaster. Otherwise, you may never need to perform any types of repairs on your new roof trusses.