Timber vs Steel Roof Trusses: Which Is Right For Your Project?

Posted on: 22 January 2021

A roof is an important structural and architectural element of any building. It protects the interior of a building from inclement weather conditions but also contributes to the overall aesthetics of the building. 

Before installing a new roof on your building, you'll need to figure out which roof framing system is right for your needs. You have two main options to choose from — traditional stick-framed systems and trussed roof systems. 

Roof trusses are the go-to option if you want to expedite the roof installation process. These roof framing systems are put together at an off-site location and delivered to your site for final assembly. However, not all roof trusses are created equal. You'll have to choose between timber trusses and steel trusses. 

Here's some useful information to help you decide between the two options.

Timber Trusses

Generally less expensive than steel trusses, timber trusses are revered for their cost-effectiveness, strength, energy efficiency, and sustainability. These trusses aren't stronger than their steel counterparts, but they can provide enough strength to ensure the structural integrity of residential buildings. The timber used to manufacture roof trusses locks up carbon, which would have added to harmful greenhouse emissions. 

Timber is a natural thermal insulator. This property contributes to the energy efficiency of buildings, as less heat is lost or gained through the roof structure. Insulation also works best when it is installed on trussed roofs.

What's more, the timber used to manufacture roof trusses is harvested from managed forest plantations. The controlled harvesting of trees helps reinstate the forest cover. On the downside, timber is a natural material that can warp, decay, and get eaten by insects. This can shorten the lifespan of timber roof trusses.

Steel Trusses

Steel trusses cost more upfront than timber trusses, but they provide greater strength and last longer. These qualities make them ideal for large roofing projects that require increased strength and durability.

While steel is resistant to cold weather, it heats up rather rapidly. As a result, a lot of heat can be gained or lost from buildings with steel trussed roofs. This undermines efforts to keep buildings as energy-efficient as possible.

Steel is also susceptible to corrosion, hence regular care is required to prevent corrosion damage. This adds to the cost of using steel trusses. 

So, which type of roof trusses is best for your project? The answer depends on your particular needs and budget. If you can't decide, ask a professional for advice.


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