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Roof Truss Design Cathedral Ceilings A roof is a vital design consideration for home builders.

It must protect a house from the elements. To design a roof, builders must consider the trusses, a skeletal framework that improves stability and gives the roof extra strength. You can buy roof trusses or make them yourself. In almost 80 percent of new homes, builders support the roof with roof trusses, which are triangulated wood structures made in a factory and then shipped whole to the construction site. A myriad of different roof truss designs exist, ranging from simple to intricate. To avoid a sagging ridge or bowed walls in a cathedral-ceiling structure, first youve got to understand how a typical roof frame works. A plain flat-ceiling gable is actually a procession of light trusses, usually spaced 16 in. o. c. Each truss is composed of two opposing rafters and a ceiling joist. The rafters are in compression, pushing outward on the eaves walls, and the ceiling joists are in tension, pulling inward on the eaves walls. As a first option in enlarging the ceiling space, you can move the ceiling joists up the rafters, making them collar ties, as shown in the drawing above left. The portion of each rafter that extends below the collar tie is actually a cantilever; its stiffness transmits the tension action of the collar tie down to the plate, preventing the walls from bowing. The farther up the collar tie is moved, the longer the cantilever of the rafter becomes. Depending on the stiffness of the rafter stock, a point will be reached where the rafter starts to bend outward below the collar tie. This pushes the walls out and allows the ridge to sag. As a general rule of thumb, when ceiling joists are moved up to become collar ties, they should be moved up no more than one-third the length of the rafter. The next option you can consider in opening up the ceiling frame is to remove some of the ceiling joists or collar ties while leaving the full complement of rafters in place. Typically, this is done by leaving every third collar tie and removing the two in between, as shown in the drawing. You still have rafters 16 in. o. c., so you can easily cover the underside of the roof with drywall and its outside with plywood. But the spacing of the ties is reduced to 48 in. o. c., and the flat ceiling is eliminated. The collar ties can be wrapped with drywall, or a higher grade of lumber can be used and left exposed. In a frame like this, the remaining collar ties are often doubled up, putting one 2x on each side of the rafter. This balances the construction and makes it look beefier. (The channel between the 2xs is a good place for concealed track lighting; light can be bounced off the sloped ceiling down into the room.) Bolts are the best fasteners for the rafter/ collar-tie connection. If you nail the collar tie to the rafter, use plenty of 16d commons and angle them toward the center of the building; this will cause them to dig in as the rafter pushes out. The final option for opening up the ceiling space would be to hang all the rafters on a structural ridge beam supported at each end by a wall, as shown in the drawing below left. This beam must be capable of carrying half the weight of the entire roof. The other half is carried by the eaves walls. The nice thing about this approach is its simplicity. The not-so-nice thing is getting such a large beam up there in the first place. In your case, a 26-ft. long beam is going to be mighty hefty. If youve got a crane handy, you could use a one-piece beam such as a steel I-beam or a wood glulam. If youre relying on muscle power, youll probably want to set up pipe scaffolding so that you can sandwich the beam together in place from smaller members. These might include 2x lumber, 1-3/4 in. thick Micro-Lams or steel flitch plates

Scissor truss roofs create a unique sloped ceiling inside the structure. The pitch of the roof defines how steeply the ceiling will slope. This is a very common type of roof truss used in residential home construction. In areas where there are extreme weather conditions or where the soil is unstable, this type of roof is particularly useful because it can increase the stability of the building. It is also often combined with other types of roof trusses in a home. A scissor truss is often used to design cathedral ceilings since this type of roof truss does not require a bearing beam or wall to support the roof and it has a greater load limit than many other types of trusses. In order to form these trusses, two inside beams are placed to rise up to meet the middle forming a scissor effect. This gives the vaulted appearance of the ceiling in the home. These should not span more than 48 feet however. The Cost of a Scissor Truss Roof One of the benefits of a scissor truss roof is that they are less expensive than a conventional roof. There are no framing supports necessary and the truss is flexible allowing the builder to determine how steep the slope should be. Unlike many other types of trusses, roof fillers are also not necessary to seal the gap between the truss and the roof. Therefore there are no special skills necessary during installation reducing the final cost. The Benefits of a Scissor Truss Design In many types of roof trusses, water or moisture damage is the biggest maintenance problem. Because a scissor truss is more open and does not use fillers, water cannot collect and moisture dries out more easily. This means they are less likely to suffer structural damage and cracking over time. In exposed beam ceilings, repairs are also simpler. This is because they have a simple layout with clearly marked joints. Anyone with an understanding of basic woodworking can perform any necessary repairs. Other Considerations for Scissor Truss Another benefit of a scissor truss is that it can be customized to meet a variety of roof designs. Only scissor roof trusses can be modified to change the design of the roof. This is done by increasing or decreasing the slope. They can also be installed quickly and be ready in about a day. However, there is a drawback to this type of truss as well. Because there is less unused space, there is not as much room for insulation as in other roof truss designs. Conclusion Scissor roof trusses are a beautiful addition to the architectural style of a home and they can be put together quickly. They are frequently used in entry ways or great rooms to create height, dimension and visual interest. In addition, the Scissor Truss is ideal for areas with heavy snowfall since they are structurally engineered specifically to withstand the additional load weight.