Trusses vs. Rafters: The Real Cost Breakdown

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Trusses vs. Rafters: The Real Cost Breakdown

You have probably heard at some time or other that trusses cost less than rafters as a roof framing option.  Is this really true?  If so, how much less do trusses cost?  More importantly, why is there such a cost differential between trusses and rafters, and given that this difference exists, why do people choose rafters over trusses in some situations?

Why People Choose Trusses Over Rafters–and Vice Versa 

People most often choose trusses over rafters for three reasons:  durability, ease of installation, and cost.  Trusses are built to withstand much greater forces than many rafters, making them ideal for areas with high winds or other adverse weather conditions.  Furthermore, trusses are very easy to install; often, a truss roofline can be completed in a single day, even on a relatively large home or office building.  Finally, trusses are almost always cheaper than rafters in overall cost.

However, there are some applications in which builders believe rafters may be a better option.  These are often custom roofing jobs in which the spaces are hard to reach or the roofing must be handmade to fit an oddly-shaped space, or in which there are last-minute changes to a plan that necessitate “on the fly” roofing.  However, in most cases, trusses can be built to accommodate almost any roofline, so pre-ordering trusses is almost always the better option.

Trusses truly save money over rafters in a number of ways.  The reason that trusses cost so much less include:

  • Trusses use less material. One of the biggest problems with stick-built rafters is that they use far more material than pre-made trusses.  Waste can become a huge issue at building sites.  Not only does the builder have to buy more material to account for waste, but the cutoff material must then be disposed of, often at additional cost.
  • Trusses use less labor. Labor costs are a significant portion of any building budget, and trusses can save tremendously in terms of the hours needed for installation.  This can end up saving the builder a significant amount of money over the life of the project.  Because trusses can be installed by fewer workers, labor costs are reduced; furthermore, the skill level required to install trusses is generally less than that required to build rafters, allowing skilled crafts people to spend their time elsewhere on the job.
  • Trusses require no storage. Builders can easily avoid storage fees and other costs associated with protecting and storing materials on the job site over a long period of time by buying trusses.  Trusses are built to order and delivered on demand, allowing the builder to choose the time and place.  This lets the builder have control over inventory without the need for expensive storage options.

At Stone Truss, we have spent decades producing quality truss roofing and flooring products for our San Diego area customers.  With years of experience, our company has come to represent a trusted name in trusses throughout southern California and beyond.  We deliver well-built products on time to your building site, and our professionals can support you throughout the process with timely and knowledgeable answers to your questions or concerns.  Give us a call today to learn more about the Stone Truss difference!

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