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The Skeleton Of Your House: Knowing The Trusses That Hold Your Roof In Place

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The framework of any house includes the vertical stud boards in the walls and the building trusses of your roof. Every type of roof, from gambrel (barn-like) to box gable, has its very own truss structure. These trusses are designed to support the whole of your roof, plus any extra weight from humans walking or standing on them.

If you ever need to pull some of the trusses out and replace them, would you be able to recognize your home's skeletal structures on sight? Could you purchase them with confidence online and have them shipped to your home? Here is how to know these trusses and know for sure that you can purchase the right ones.

THREE Gable Roof Trusses

There are three truss styles used to create your gabled roof. A tri-bearing truss has multiple extra braces built within its triangular frame to support a particularly heavy roof. The slope and pitch of this truss falls right in between the other two styles of truss, the "room in the attic" truss, and the double cantilever truss.

If you currently have a partially to totally finished space in your attic, you will need the steeper, higher-sloped "room in the attic" trusses to redo your roof.  The double cantilever's rise and run is much lower, almost flat, but still creates a gabled look. The easiest way to find out what you have in your attic is to take a picture of the bare trusses you have and match it to one of these three trusses.

Vaults, Hips, and Scissors

If the ceilings in your home are vaulted, have varying levels from room to room, or are sharply angled and come to a point, your trusses are probably vaulted, hip, or scissors style. Vaults resemble gabled roofs with the exception that one side or the other of the truss is built upward into the truss to accommodate the vaulted ceiling you have. There are also flat vaulted trusses, which create a very flat-looking, low sloping roof over a vaulted room.

Hip trusses are long and flat, with only slight slopes that come down from the very broad and flat center part of the roof. You can often see this type of roof on a trailer home or ranch-style house that does not have a gabled roof. There are also half-hip trusses, for roofs that are more like a lean-to roof than a house roof.

Scissors trusses are built strong, low, and with just enough upward point to look like a roof without being gabled. Half scissor trusses are made if you have a combo roof that uses half scissors connected to other truss structures. If you can imagine opening a scissors all the way so that the blades are fully extended, that is what these types of trusses resemble (hence, their name).


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