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The Ultimate Guide to Roof Trusses & Their Types

Posted on March 18, 2024

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The Ultimate Guide to Roof Trusses & Their Types

When constructing or renovating a roof, one crucial element to consider is the roof truss. Roof trusses play a significant role in the roofing system by providing structural support and distributing the weight of the roof evenly. Understanding the different types of roof trusses that are available can help you make informed decisions when it comes to your roofing project. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of roof trusses, exploring the different types, and how they function to support the roofing system as a whole.

What Are Roof Trusses?

Roof trusses are an essential part of a building’s structure. They provide the necessary support to the roof and transfer its weight to the walls. They are typically crafted off-site and then installed once delivered, making the construction process more efficient and faster. 

Roof trusses are available in different materials such as wood, steel, or engineered lumber. Wood trusses are popular because they are affordable, versatile, and easily customized. Steel trusses, on the other hand, offer superior strength and durability, making them suitable for buildings with long spans. Engineered lumber trusses are a combination of wood and steel, providing both strength and flexibility.

Types of Roof Trusses

Now, let’s explore the various types of roof trusses commonly used in construction projects:

1. King Post Truss

King Post Truss

The king post truss is a traditional type of roof truss, which has been in use for centuries. This roof truss design is composed of a central vertical post, commonly referred to as the king post, which is supported by two diagonal rafters that extend from the bottom of the post to the outer sides of the roof. 

This arrangement creates a triangular shape that distributes the weight of the roof evenly, making it an ideal choice for small to medium-sized roofs. The king post truss is a popular choice for residential structures, as it provides ample support while remaining simple and cost-effective.

2. Queen Post Truss

The queen post truss is a type of roof truss that provides enhanced support and stability compared to the standard king post truss. Rather than featuring a single central post, the queen post truss employs two vertical posts known as queen posts. These queen posts are connected to the bottom chord of the truss, providing additional strength and durability. This makes the queen post truss ideal for use in larger roofs where extra support is necessary. 

3. Howe Truss

Howe Truss

The Howe truss is a type of truss structure that is easily identifiable by its unique X shape, which is formed by diagonal braces intersecting at the center of the truss. Providing superior strength and stability, this roof truss design is an ideal choice for spanning long distances with minimal additional support. 

In addition, the Howe truss is a popular truss design choice for a range of construction projects, including bridges, industrial buildings, and large residential roofs due to its compression strength.

4. Pratt Truss

Pratt Truss

The Pratt truss, unlike the Howe truss, is characterized by diagonal braces that slope inward towards the center of the truss. The vertical members or posts, on the other hand, are oriented in the opposite direction. 

The unique design of this truss facilitates the efficient and even transfer of weight, making it ideal for long-span structures such as warehouses. Due to its exceptional load-bearing capacity and stability, the Pratt truss is widely used in modern construction. 

5. Gambrel Truss

The gambrel truss, also known as a barn truss, is a type of roof design that is recognized by its two-sided and symmetrical structure. In addition to its unique appeal, it is characterized by two slopes on each side of the roof, which creates a distinct and aesthetically pleasing appearance. 

This type of roof truss is particularly useful in maximizing the available space in the attic or upper floor, making it a popular choice for residential buildings such as barns, garages, and sheds.

6. Scissor Truss

The scissor truss is an outstanding design that catches the eye for its unique two bottom chords that intersect at an angle, forming what looks like a pair of scissors. This configuration produces a vaulted ceiling space beneath the truss, which offers more headroom and architectural flexibility. Scissor trusses are highly desired in residential roofing as they can create open, airy living spaces that are practical and visually attractive.

Roof Truss Materials

Roof trusses don’t just come in different styles, but different materials as well. Each offers unique benefits and characteristics, so let’s explore the primary materials used in constructing roof trusses

1. Wood

Wood is one of the most common materials used in the construction of roof trusses. It offers a combination of affordability, versatility, and ease of customization, making it a popular choice among builders and homeowners alike. Softwoods such as pine, spruce, and fir are generally used for wood trusses due to their strength-to-weight ratio and availability.

Moreover, wooden roof trusses are engineered by assembling individual pieces of lumber into triangular shapes using metal connector plates or wooden gusset plates. This assembly process can be done off-site, allowing for faster and more efficient installation on the construction site. 

2. Steel

Steel trusses are another popular option for roofing structures, particularly in commercial and industrial buildings where strength and durability matter. Steel offers superior load-bearing capacity and resistance to fire, pests, and rot, making it ideal for long-span structures and harsh environmental conditions.

Steel roof trusses are generally engineered from welded steel tubes or hot-rolled steel sections, providing excellent structural integrity and stability. While steel trusses may cost more upfront than wooden trusses, they offer long-term savings due to their durability and minimal maintenance requirements.

3. Engineered Lumber

Engineered lumber has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its durability, consistency, and eco-friendliness. These trusses are formed by bonding together multiple layers of wood veneer or lumber pieces using adhesive and pressure.

These trusses have several advantages compared to natural wood, including higher load-carrying capacity, dimensional stability, and resistance to warping and splitting. They can be customized to meet specific design requirements and are often used in large-span structures where traditional wood trusses may not be enough.

Contact A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing For Your New Roof Installation 

If you are planning to install a new roof on your home or office, contact A. Fricker Roofing & Waterproofing in Tulsa, OK. The roofers at the company are proficient at handling any roofing project, be it a new roof installation or a complete roof replacement. Give us a call today at (918) 402-7167 and consult with one of our roofing professionals.


A. Roof trusses offer several advantages over traditional rafters, including faster installation, superior strength, and reduced labor costs.

A. Yes, roof trusses can be customized to accommodate various roof designs, including gable, hip, and mansard roofs.

A. The lifespan of a roof truss depends on various factors, including the quality of materials used, climate conditions, and maintenance practices. However, properly installed and maintained roof trusses can last for several decades.