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Timber trusses VS Rafters. What is the difference and how to choose the most appropriate solution?

Homeowners often find that timber trusses are the same roof construction solution as roof rafters. True – both roof structure solutions serve one purpose, but each type has its own advantages and disadvantages.

One of the most important decisions when planning a home construction or reconstruction is the choice of roof structure. In this case, choosing between the traditional solution, using beams and rafters, or prefabricated timber trusses.

Roof rafters and beams are roof construction elements made out of wood or metal and connected with each other. Roof rafters can be one of the key elements in roof design when they are exposed. The wooden trusses, on the other hand, are prefabricated roof constructions, which, when placed symmetrically, cover the building from one end to the other. The most important difference between the timber truss and roof rafting structures lies in the preparation and installation.

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Why timber trusses are more widely used structure type than rafters ?

The reason why we do not see so many buildings with roof rafters nowadays is the cost. In order to reduce the cost and construction time of building you should use timber trusses. Likewise, the truss solution will be the best option if you plan to install the roof structure yourself – it will save you money because you will not need to invest money in assembly.

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It is advisable to choose rafter roof structure if the building is smaller than 6 meters. For example, if you want to increase your living space or build a house extension.

If you still think that there is no difference between timber trusses and rafters, we suggest looking at the main differences that will help determine which of the roof design solutions will be best suited for your project:

Rafter roof construction

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  • Rafters are installed on construction site and it takes More time and human resources. Experienced professionals are required for installation.
  • Recommended for small-scale construction projects. For installation of roof rafters, projects with span over 6 m requires an inner load bearing wall.
  • For rafter solution it’s not possible to do an inner wall replanning.

Timber truss roof construction

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  • Structures are delivered on site ready for installation. The assembly process is quick and easy. It does not require any specific knowledge.
  • The trusses are suitable for both small-scale construction objects and large-span buildings with spans up to 35 meters between load-bearing walls.
  • Unlimited planning and replanning capabilities for inner walls.

In order to be able to talk about the cost of timber trusses, it is necessary to clerafy the difference between the price and the properties of both roof constructions. Let’s look at an example of a price comparison of one building with the size of 15x8m (160m2) roof construction:

Rafter roof construction (€)Timber truss roof construction (€)
Materials9602270
Installation2400700
IN TOTAL:33603070

Comparing the total cost of construction and assembly, we see that the total cost of timber trusses with installation is 3070 EUR, while choosing roof rafters will cost 3360 EUR.

Despite the simplicity of the construction, professional construction specialists are asking for EUR 15 per square meter, while if the building is more difficult to build, costs can grow up to 25 EUR / m2. For the above mentioned example, we have used 15 eur / m2 for calculating construction costs.

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To connect the components and install a roof rafter solution, you have to spend a lot of time compared to a timber truss solution, and knowing that labor costs are increasing every year, it is more profitable to use pre-made wooden truss solutions, saving both time and financial resources.

It should be noted that manufacturing rafters requires highly skilled roofers to create the most accurate and correct solution for roof construction. In turn, to install timber trusses, there is no need to attract a qualified roofer, as the builder can do the job.

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How should I compare prices between two different timber truss manufacturers ?

If you choose a timber trusses as a roof structure, you probably wonder how can I make the best cost comparison ?

The answer is quite simple – there must be two completely identical projects to compare prices, as usually the truss manufacturers can change the specifics of the building, such as load-bearing walls and other values. To make the most accurate price comparison, we recommend that you send the building drawing to different timber truss manufacturers to find out the best price for the project.

After reading the article, we would like to test your knowledge in roof constructions. Compare both adjacent drawings!

  1. Versionversija 2
  1. Version

versija 1

Both timber truss drawings are for building with width of 9.7m, but one of them is more expensive by 35 EUR than other. 

If you look at the drawings and you are able to find the differences between the two drawings, congratulations – you are enough competent to make an independent decision on the most appropriate roof design choice! However, if you find it harder to find the difference, don’t be afraid to ask competing timber truss manufacturers for price and project solutions, because let’s remember that it is always better to trust a professional!

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