The Complete Guide to Roof Trusses: Design, Cost, Framing & More

When it comes to roof trusses, you need to consider everything from design to cost to the pros of using trusses instead of stick framing a roof. If you’re looking for a complete guide for roof trusses, then you’ve come to the right place.

You can use the links below to navigate throughout the guide:

1. Pros of Using Roof Trusses Instead of Stick Framing

2. Pricing Roof Trusses    

3. How to Order Trusses

The Pros of Using Roof Trusses Instead of Stick Framing

The pros of using roof trusses drastically outweigh the pros of stick framing. Sure, there may be an instance where stick framing is your only option, and that is understandable. But 99% of the time, a roof truss is going to give you so much more.

Here are the pros of trusses:

-Roof trusses are actually engineered – all of our trusses have an engineer seal on them which means they have met universal standards.

-Trusses are built in a controlled environment out of the elements of weather. This means the building process isn’t affected by rain or snow.

-Trusses span greater distances without having to be supported.

-Trusses are manufactured with computer-controlled saws, leading to greater accuracy, tighter fits, fewer mistakes, and less lumber waste. It’s simply more exact.

-We waste very little lumber when we build our roof trusses, which means we save more on lumber per truss we build. Try doing that with stick framing.

-Trusses are built on the ground and then lifted into place on existing walls. This eliminates more chances for people to fall and experience an accident.

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How Lumber Prices Are Affecting Truss Prices in 2018

Lumber prices are the highest they’ve been in decades. Here’s what you need to know about the cause:

  • -A third of all lumber in the U.S. comes from western Canada, where forest fires have recently cut into the supply.
  • -Rail capacity has also been limited for lumber supply.
  • -On top of that, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on Canadian lumber, and there isn’t enough lumber in the U.S. for the domestic need.

Over the last three decades, the price of lumber per 1,000 board feet occasionally hit $400. In 2018 we’ve seen it hit an all-time high at $639.

lumber and truss prices

So, how does this affect truss prices?

It affects the price of a wood truss directly. Since lumber prices are up 67% across North America, the trusses we manufacture are up at least 30% due to the higher cost of lumber. What used to cost $3.00 per foot is now $4.00.

Home Depot is also seeing the same 30% increase for wood products sold in their stores, according a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Luckily, we aren’t seeing a direct 67% increase in the cost of our trusses, but we are experiencing much higher costs than ever.

What Should You Expect in Home Construction?

This sharp increase in lumber prices is greatly affecting the whole housing industry. New homes are expected to be at least $3,000 more due to the higher lumber costs. It affects everything from framing a house, to the plywood used, to the high quality wood we use in the trusses. So from top to bottom, a spike in lumber prices causes a spike in house prices.

What’s Expected For Next Year?

While we certainly can’t predict the future, many analysts believe the high lumber prices are just a bubble and it will pop soon. Lumber prices are constantly in flux and swing in one direction year-to-year. By 2019, analysts believe we’ll be back down around $250 per 1,000 board feet rather than the $600s and $500s we’re experiencing now.

Why Is All of This Important?

First, we want to be transparent with you about the cost of what we manufacture. We certainly don’t want anyone to think we’re raising truss prices just for the sake of some increased profit. No, truss prices are increasing due to the increase of lumber prices. It simply costs more to produce the same truss.

Second, we want you to be aware that building a home, barn, or other structure is going to cost more at the moment due to the increase in lumber prices. You may have started your project back in 2017 or even started designing and getting estimates in 2016 when costs were completely different. So we don’t want you to think anyone is taking advantage of you now that prices are higher.

Learn More About Truss Pricing:

If you’re interested in learning more about how we price our trusses and want some updated price data, please refer to our step-by-step guide here.

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Pricing Wood Trusses for Any Project: A Step-By-Step Guide

We wish we could provide an exact answer to the question – how much will my roof trusses cost?

Although we can’t provide the exact bottom-line number (without further consultation), what we can provide is a thorough pricing guide to help you understand how wood roof trusses are priced for homes, buildings and all projects.

Below you’ll learn about the most common roof truss design and how it’s priced for projects. You’ll also learn about other designs and how pricing is affected by the change in design. And to conclude, we’ve provided a simple home design with common dimensions as an example to help you understand the complete pricing process.

[We’ve updated prices based on the current 2018 market and cost of lumber – read more about that here]

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How to Match an Existing Gable Roof & The Truss Design

Adding on to a house or structure is a great way to get more room without building an entire new house! There are several important things to know about matching existing roofs and how to do it depending on what style of roof you have, the roof truss design, and how you want to add on.

Categories of House Additions

There are two main categories that additions fall under most of the time:  T-shaped & continued.

house trusses

gable roof

Either the addition is added to form a T-shape to the house with the ridge running perpendicular to the main house roof, or the addition is continued on the end of the house making it longer with the ridge running the same way as the existing house.

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Premanufactured Wood Trusses Provide a Solution for Labor Shortage

Premanufactured wood trusses offer a solution to the building industry labor shortage. There is currently a significant labor shortage among home framers and carpenters. Contractors find it increasingly difficult to keep up with the housing demand and operate in a cost- and time-effective manner.

Framing Labor Shortage

“Eight-five percent of builders reported a shortage of framing subcontractors, compared to “only” 77 percent who reported a shortage of framers directly employed,” according to July 2017 NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI study.

This is significant, considering that new home sales were 8.3 percent higher in 2017 than in 2016, reaching 608,000 homes in 2017. This is part of a steadily rising trend since 2011. (Reference)

NAHB/Wells Fargo HMI Study Results on labor shortage

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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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Why Geographic Location is So Important in Truss Design

wood trusses

Geographic location is an important factor for truss design. Depending on your geographic location, your trusses will have to account for different amounts of wind and snow.

Timberlake TrussWorks has customers all across Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas. That means we have lots of different climates and codes we need to consider.

When a customer orders trusses, we can’t proceed without knowing their geographic location. By analyzing the weather patterns and climate history in this geographic location, we can get accurate information about wind and snow loads in the area.

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Designing Wood Trusses to Accommodate Appropriate Spacing

Kansas wood trussesWhen it comes to designing wood trusses, the spacing of each truss according to each design is crucial. If you miscalculate any bit of the spacing and don’t consider the use of the building you’re constructing, then you’re likely to end up with a compromised structure that can present a hazard.

Today, we want to run through a design scenario to discuss how we approach design and our consideration of spacing. If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We’re happy to help – 580-852-3660

Here’s the design scenario:

Take trusses that are spaced 4’ apart. They are loaded for a post frame construction that has purlins on the top cord with metal screwed down to that.

The bottom of the truss is open and exposed from underneath although the building will be completely enclosed. So on this 30’ span truss, it is resting on 5 ½ inches at each end.

On that small surface, there is 1560 lbs. of weight on the bearing point. This is every 4’. So if the trusses were spaced out to 8’, there would be double that amount of weight.

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How Much Do Roof Trusses Cost? – An Approximate Guide

Roof truss framing is a cost-effective way to build a roof. Today, more and more homebuilders use roof truss framing to save costs and build stronger roofs.

But how much do trusses cost? Today, we’re going to explain how pricing is evaluated and calculated by truss manufacturers and what you can expect when you consider purchasing a truss system for your next project.

[Notice: since this was written in 2014, the price of lumber has increased considerably and these prices are no longer exact for 2018-2019]

An average 2,600 square foot house costs…

According to the study discussed below, we can give you some approximate pricing information for truss framing. These are general figures and will change according to whichever supplier you’re working with:

-Labor costs: 112 man-hours x $20/hour average = $2,240

-Equipment costs: Crane = $500

-Total bd. ft. lumber: 10,500 x truss manufacturer’s selling price per board foot:  $9,000 to $12,000

-Scrap disposal cost: 3 yards of lumber x $15/yard plus labor costs: $77

Total cost:  $11,817 to $14,817

Keep in mind that these statistics are for a 2,600 square foot house. Also, these are only approximate values. Labor, equipment and materials vary in price due to cost of living in varying locations. Since cost of living is much lower here in Oklahoma and the Midwest, these prices will be lower than the national average.

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How Prairie Winds Affect Wood Trusses in Kansas

Storm Clouds SaskatchewanKansas is notorious for its prairie winds. Engineers have always had to take these winds into account when designing structures across the state.

Prairie winds can be downright dangerous if you’re working with the wrong building materials.

Every day, truss designers need to take a variety of factors into account when building for the prairie winds in Kansas. Here are some important things to know about how truss systems are affected by Kansas prairie winds:

Truss builders need to calculate wind pressures using two blended methods

There are two broad ways to calculate wind pressures: Main Wind Force Resisting System (MWFRS) and Components & Cladding (C&C).

MWFRS applies to a structural frame or an assembly of structural elements that work together to transfer wind loads to the ground.

C&C applies to components that directly receive wind loads – like wall coverings, roof coverings, fasteners, and girts. Components and Cladding are typically exposed to higher wind pressures than MWFRS elements.

Trusses fall into both categories. Thus, the industry-standard practice is to design the truss to handle both MWFRS loads and C&C loads.

Truss builders need to consult wind maps to identify correct wind speeds

Building codes typically require the use of a 90-mph wind speed for inland areas of the United States. However, you’ll need to consult local wind maps and government building codes for region-specific information.

Experienced builders don’t settle with just the 90-mph wind speed standard. Experienced builders increase the durability to handle wind speeds around 100 and 110 mph. With wood trusses in Kansas, increases wind speed durability is a major consideration. All trusses must be designed to withstand substantial wind, more than the average structure.

Building usage affects wind pressure calculations

Buildings fall into a number of different usage categories. Specifically, there are three broad categories of building usages:

-Category I: A building that will have a low hazard to human life if it fails

-Category II: A building that presents a substantial hazard to human life if it fails

-Category III and IV: Buildings that are critical facilities or present a substantial hazard to human life in the event of a failure.

Different building exposures affect truss design

Buildings located on empty, flat land are more affected by wind pressure than buildings surrounded by trees and other buildings.

Building codes classify these buildings in four different ways:

Exposure A: Buildings located in downtown areas or city centers.

Exposure B: Urban and suburban buildings that are surrounded by similar-sized buildings and trees.

Exposure C: Buildings in an open area with scattered obstructions.

Exposure D: A building exposed to unobstructed wind for at least one mile over flat land.

Good truss builders take all of these factors into account

Ultimately, truss builders have a lot of responsibility. In Kansas, flat plains let wind travel unobstructed for hundreds of miles. Rural buildings and even many suburban buildings are rarely protected against substantial wind.

To take truss manufacturing to the next level, Timberlake TrussWorks builds wood trusses capable of withstanding strong winds. The key to a sound structure requires the builder to guarantee trusses are fastened tightly against the wall. This is accomplished by installing TimberLOK Screws, which we happily provide.

These screws are hurricane ties – able to withstand the brunt force of harsh winds caused by severe storms. TimberLOK Screws keep trusses and roofs stable and secure during harsh weather conditions experienced on the plains of Kansas.

If you’re shopping for wood trusses in Kansas, then you can’t settle for average. Kansas’s prairie winds chew up average wood trusses and quickly reduce the lifespan of structures. If you’re looking for wood trusses in Kansas that offer a higher level of quality and longer-lasting support, then order from Timberlake TrussWorks today.

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