When having a new property built, you’ll generally need to decide between trusses and rafters for the roof. Both options provide support, but they differ in quite subtle ways. Choosing between them is less about making the absolute right choice and more about finding the ideal option to fit around your own needs and wants, so make sure you understand the differences and why those differences matter.
Rafters were once the only real choice, so they tend to be associated more with period properties than with new-builds. With rafters, dimensional timber is used to support the roof, creating A-frame configurations and taking up quite a lot of space.
One of the most common reasons for using rafters is simply to bring that traditional appearance to a modern home, especially if the rafters are going to be exposed, but that isn’t their only benefit. Rafters are also far better for creating vaulted ceiling spaces, and the fact that they are usually custom made from timber means that they can be more easily worked around smaller or odd-shaped areas. They are also easier to transport to more remote locations.
Even with those advantages, rafters have been slowly eclipsed in popularity by trusses. This is primarily down to expense. Unlike rafters, trusses are created in curved shapes, with an arch of timber able to provide comparable support. This means that less timber needs to be used, radically reducing your upfront costs.
Additionally, trusses are prefabricated and then transported directly to the property. This process involves less labour and expense than you’d be looking at when fitting rafters, and it takes less time and fewer people for them to be installed once they reach your site.
Of course, transporting a prefabricated truss to a more out-of-the-way location can be difficult, especially since heavier machinery will be needed to lift each truss into place. Finally, trusses tend to be difficult to install when dealing with smaller roofs with timber beams.