How to design a roof truss

Written by corey morris
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How to design a roof truss
The design of a roof truss is crucial in ensuring the longevity of a home. (roof turss image by Greg Pickens from

The roof truss system is one of the most crucial parts to home construction. To do it correctly, a stable design model must be created. Aside from personal preference, the style of the truss must be designed to properly support the roof of the home. A sturdy truss system will help ensure the home's lifespan and safety.

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Things you need

  • Blueprint paper
  • Truss design software

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  1. 1

    Decide on a material to use for building your truss system. Different materials such as steel and timber are commonly used to design roof trusses. The most popular building material for trusses is wood. Wood is chosen because of its affordability and reliability in home construction. Architects typically recommend using a wooden roof truss systems more than other material to aid in support. Lightweight steel beams act as an expensive alternative, but are more fire-resistant and robust when compared to lumber.

  2. 2

    Determining a truss system comes down to how much weight and stress the roof must sustain. With a more defined pattern, the truss system is able to withstand more difficult conditions. Less lumber is cheaper, but may result in a shorter lifespan of your truss frame. Roof trusses can stand up against high winds and hurricane conditions if built correctly. The design is key in preventing a roof construction that fails against increased pressure and stress.

  3. 3

    The truss system design should be outlined on a hard copy document. Use either readily available blueprint sheets or a computer truss design program. Draw the frame of the home, keeping in mind space for the trusses. Ensure the distance is equal between each truss so they all withstand the same amount of pressure. Each truss should dissect the frame directly in half, making a 90-degree angle. This allows for a sturdier frame and lowers the chance of collapsing. A final copy should be shown to your architect.

Tips and warnings

  • The height of the truss is dependent on whether or not an attic will be constructed. Most truss designs today leave no room for a utility space.
  • Keep location in mind. Areas prone to severe weather and high wind, such as coastal regions, may need a stronger truss system than areas where weather is calm.
  • Before deciding on a final roof truss design, learn the local building codes. Some areas may not allow the type of desired truss, such as the common triangular model.

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