Pros and Cons of Trusses vs Stick Framing

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When comparing two things, it’s best to compare apples for apples. If you are trying to decide if you will use Trusses vs Stick Framing, there are things to take into consideration that will make a difference in your decision making.

Although we want to compare apples for apples, some things can’t be compared equally because it’s actually not possible to do it as both trusses and stick framing have some situations where one isn’t an option.

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Differences Between Trusses & Stick Framing, And Common Misconceptions

stick framing

Stick framing has been around for quite some time. Trusses are relatively new, so naturally trusses are not quite as well known or understood as stick framing. And even if you’ve known about trusses for a while, the industry is changing rapidly, so it’s good to get the latest news and details.

Difference Between Stick Framing & Truss:

Do you know what it means when we talk about stick framing a roof? Stick framing is building the roof on the construction site one piece or board at a time.

It starts with setting ridge and valley beams above the house walls. Then dimensional lumber, called rafters, are cut to fit one piece at a time and shoved up to a framer on the roof that’s balancing on scaffolding who installs the rafters.

Once the roof slope is complete, the ceiling still needs to be framed. This too is all cut to fit on the job-site one piece at a time. The roof and ceiling is literally “sticked” together.

A wood truss on the other hand is a structurally sound engineered building product. When a truss is installed on top of the walls, it builds the roof slope and ceiling at the same time as one structural piece.

Trusses can be designed in all shapes and sizes, and customized completely based on the project. The truss is built within our manufacturing facility and then fitted directly on the job-site. This reduces man hours on the job site, which reduces cost.

We can get everything designed and built within our facility, then ship the truss directly to the site and have it installed in no time.

Learn more about how we price our trusses and the possible designs you can implement.

Example — What Stick Framing Looks Like Compared to Trusses:

stick framing

This first image is from a roof project being constructed using the stick frame technique. As you can see circled in red on the left is a bunch of boards or “sticks” connected together to support the frame of the roof. However, this doesn’t look quite sturdy or safe. And the sticking together of boards is sloppy.

wood truss

Now, this image is from a roof project being constructed with wood trusses. As you can see within the red rectangle, everything is uniform, sturdy and well constructed. Here you have a solid roof structure that wasn’t “sticked” together. Instead, the roof is much more stable, strong and durable.

Here is a quick video showing the installation of trusses (sped up to 2x and 4x normal speed): 

Stick Framing & Truss Misconceptions:

Stick framing is cheaper than trusses. FALSE.

Identical houses have been built side by side different times using the two different methods and every time it costs less to use trusses. See link for information: https://www.sbcindustry.com/fad

Trusses are faster than stick framing. TRUE!

There are multiple instances were comparisons have been done side by side and trusses have always been faster. Here is a video one such comparison: https://www.sbcindustry.com/fad2

Trusses can clear span a great distance. TRUE!

We have built trusses with cathedral that were free spanning 64 foot!

A stick framed roof is more flexible to build what you want. HOW? Where are we talking about flexibility? Is it on the outside roof style, inside looks and walls, or what? I’ll talk more about this below as we need to go more in depth on this one.

Trusses don’t have room inside the webbing for any storage. FALSE.

Tell the truss engineer that you would like some room for storage and specify how much room you would like along with what kind of stuff you would like to store. Webbing can be changed to allow room or else a room can just be built right into the trusses. MiTek truss software automatically adds additional loading into the trusses anywhere a box 2 foot wide and 3 foot tall can fit between the webs.

Can trusses be used for attic area or bonus rooms? True!

This is very commonly misunderstood thing. Trusses can free span quite a distance and still have an attic room built in. Over a garage is a typical example. What’s more, they can allow room for stairs and design the trusses to handle that as well.

Are trusses better then stick framing? DEPENDS.

This questions is a little harder to answer and depends on what is being built. 9 times out of 10 trusses are better but I’ll explain more about that in the next post.

When 2 different things are compared or considered, it is good to compare apples for apples. If you are trying to decide if you will use trusses or go with the stick frame option, there are things to take into consideration that will make a difference on how you decide. So even though we want to compare apples for apples, some things can’t be compared equally because it’s actually not possible to do it as both have some situations where the other technique can’t perform as well.

Are all trusses created equal? NO!

The type of lumber being used to build the truss makes a large difference on how the truss turns out. It also makes a large difference how careful the truss company is when they build the trusses.

Does it matter what type of lumber is used on the truss? YES!

Think about it: the truss is constructed using lumber. The better the lumber quality, the better the truss. KNOW WHAT KIND OF LUMBER IS BEING USED TO BUILD YOUR TRUSSES! This is very important. Some lumber that companies use warps and will give you a bad experience. Most of the lumber we use is a White Fir or Hem Fir which is strong and very stable.

Which is the strongest and most stable, trusses or stick frame? Trusses!

It is a known fact that a trussed roof has less bounce then a stick framed roof. Think about a single board sitting by itself across a gap. It flexes when jumped on right? Now think of that board connected up with other boards in a triangular shape. Much stronger now right? That’s how trusses work.

Why do people still stick frame roofs when they can use trusses?

Stick framing has been around the longest and that’s just what some people know. Just because it has been around the longest doesn’t mean it’s the best though, right? Most people that still stick frame roofs do so because they haven’t learned otherwise or because they are unwilling to change. Or some people stick frame because they received a bad set of trusses from a truss company at one time. We take pride in our work and want every truss to fit perfect. We care about our customers and want them to be happy with what they order from us!

We just stick frame the roof because it’s less hassle and doesn’t take as long as ordering trusses. FALSE!

You will be surprised how easy it is to order trusses. Most phone calls to order trusses take between 5 to 10 minutes on average for a simple project. More complicated projects take a litte longer at times. Stick framing takes much longer than that.

Do trusses have any limitations? Sometimes but not often.

There are some projects that are designed in such a way that trusses just aren’t a good option. This happens most often on a roof with the ceiling following the roof joist or on a few special hip roofs with some unusual features. Most hip roofs are not a problem though.

One of the lines we like tell people are “Try us once and you’ll see just how good our trusses are!” We are quite confident that they will outperform and fit better than any set you’ve ever had. Remember, we can only build trusses to fit as good as the dimensions given to us are accurate. Starting with a squared and level concrete foundation or floor is also just as important for a perfect fit.

Please read our other blogs for helpful information and give us a call when you are ready to get a quote or order your trusses!

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Timberlake Truss Works LLC