Timber trusses have been used since the Middle Ages, and their popularity continues to rise. Today, most residential roofs in the US, Canada, and Australia are framed with wood trusses. Wood trusses are also extensively used in Europe and Japan. They’re gaining traction worldwide for industrial and residential uses.
With development in technology and manufacturing, engineered wood trusses made with dimensional lumber and pressed metal plates have proved to be the best combination of strength, value and design accuracy. Engineered wood trusses are popular for structures and objects that require more space, especially for large industrial and office buildings. They provide great flexibility in design planning.
Why use wood trusses?
A truss is a framework that supports a roof, floor, or other structure. It’s assembled in a factory with pre-engineered structures and joints. One good roof truss definition is, “a prefabricated wooden structure that integrates a triangular webbing of structural members to provide support for the roof above while tying the outside walls of the house together.”
Building with rafters, known as stick framing, is the traditional way to build a roof. Each rafter is measured, cut, and fastened together on the job site using dimensional lumber. This type of construction is labor-intensive.
Like roof trusses, floor trusses are also prefabricated, and they can span a greater distance than dimensional lumber alone. Their built-in openings provide space for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical infrastructure. This all-in-one framework helps eliminate squeaks and cut down on framing time. It’s an excellent choice for DIYers, too.
About 80% of builders and contractors choose engineered truss systems these days. If you’re looking for quick construction, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, trusses are the way to go.
Advantages of wood trusses
Wood trusses are usually more cost effective than metal ones. They’re also cheaper to install since you probably won’t have to use heavy machinery. Since they’re relatively light in weight, they can be easily handled and hoisted into place. Also, prefabrication cuts down on construction time and therefore costs.
With wood trusses, there’s very little waste, which is good for the environment and your wallet. You also won’t have to worry about pilferage since wood trusses are engineered specifically for the job and generally can’t be used in other projects.
2. Energy efficient
Wood trusses offer excellent thermal properties, especially when compared with steel. Wood is a dense material that provides superior insulation.
Thanks to its natural cellular structure, wood has a higher insulation rating than either steel or plastic. This means that it takes less energy to heat and cool houses made with wood. According to one study, a hardwood floor installed over a wood subfloor provides the same insulation value as a 22-inch concrete floor.
While they grow, trees release oxygen into the air and absorb CO2. Although that process stops when trees mature or are harvested, wood retains the carbon the growing trees trapped. By weight, 50% of timber is carbon safely tucked away—also known as a carbon sink.
Compared to other materials, timber consumes less energy to process and does not produce as much air and water pollution. Moreover, wood is the only renewable significant construction material.
4. Resistant to heat and electrical conduction
When dried to standard moisture content levels of 7-12% for most species, wood is naturally resistant to electrical conduction. Its strength and dimensions are also not significantly affected by heat. This provides stability to the finished building and has fire safety implications.
Some people are afraid that wooden roof structures are more insecure than metal structures since wood burns. Although this makes intuitive sense, tests don’t bear this out.
Metal structures can collapse after 40-50 minutes of burning. Properly installed wooden structures are actually more fire-resistant because they’re durable up to the critical flammable temperature. Steel quickly loses strength at high temperatures.
5. Flexible and versatile
Wood roof trusses are known for their versatility and how well they work with other structural products. They can be linked to other trusses or combined with components like glued laminated timber (glulam) or steel beams.
The high strength-to-weight ratios of wood trusses permit long spans, allowing flexibility for today’s open floor plans. Wood trusses can also be designed into almost any shape and size. The only restrictions are manufacturing and handling considerations.
6. Strong and durable
Accurate fabrication and constant quality control assure trusses line up with project standards. That helps ensure your building’s structural integrity.
As a building material, wood outperforms steel when it comes to breaking length. In other words, wood can support its own weight well, which not only allows for larger spaces but also fewer needed supports in some building designs.
7. Sound absorbent
Instead of reflecting or amplifying sound, wood absorbs it. Using wooden trusses can help cut down on the noise level for additional comfort. Also, its acoustic properties contribute to minimizing echo in living or office spaces.
8. Aesthetically pleasing
The nearly infinite variety of wood trusses allows you to experiment with the layout and aesthetic features of a building. In fact, many restaurant chains express their corporate identity in the roof design of their buildings.
Choose wood trusses for superior quality
Using wood trusses for roofs and floors is a time-honored building tradition that continues to gain in popularity for good reasons. Wood is an economical, cost-effective, ecologically smart solution for DIYers and professional builders alike.