Which is Better Roof Trusses or Stick Framing Part 4: Summary & Conclusion

This is the fourth article in the series about the age-old debate of which is better: Trusses or Stick Framing. In this article we will summarize what we have discussed previously and come to a conclusion on this subject.

We have looked at trusses vs. stick framing based on:

  • Cost effectiveness
  • Quality
  • Flexibility

Here is what we found:

Cost effectiveness:

  • Structures can be erected considerably quicker with trusses and, therefore, an appreciable amount of labor cost can be cut from the job.
  • Complicated roof designs can be built into trusses enabling the framers to set trusses and move on to the next step. Stick framing requires numerous steps to get to the same point in the job, especially when you add any ceiling conditions such and vaults, trays, or inverted hips.
  • Trusses can clear span large distances much more economically than a stick framed application. With a stick framed roof, most likely you would have to use some type of interior bearing and multiple beams.

Trusses get the nod on the cost effectiveness topic.

vault-trusses

Quality:

Both methods can produce high quality products. We looked at the similarities and differences between the two when trying to create a high quality product.

Similarities:

  • Good quality lumber is used.
    • Straight
    • Relatively few knots
    • Small amount of wane and crook.
  • Connections between members are tight. Fastened correctly.
  • Members are sized correctly for the loads.
  • Members are cut consistently to produce a uniform structure.
  • Attention to detail when setting members in place.
    • Plumb and square.
  • Structure is braced properly.

Differences:

  • Trusses built-in controlled environment.
  • Many truss plants operate within a quality control program and in some cases are inspected by a third-party organization.
  • Lumber moisture content / exposure to weather.
  • Automated saws cut members in truss plants.
  • Trusses built on tables with jigs.

Trusses got the nod in this category.  Being able to build the trusses in a controlled environment that can produce consistent and accurate members is what pushed it over the top. Additionally, the fact that trusses are an engineered product adds some additional weight to their case.

inverted-vault

Flexibility:

How successful are trusses and stick framing with adapting to new, different and changing requirements?

  • Trusses are a manufactured product – so once they are built – they are built.
  • Trusses can be modified in the field, but this can be involved and does require an engineer’s seal.
  • Stick framing is done on site and built to match field conditions.
  • Stick framing can be easier to adjust in the field if design changes come up.
  • Framer can have some freedom to how the framing is done. Does not need to have an engineer’s seal in many cases and just need to pass the framing inspection.

Stick framing got the nod on this front.

attic-hip-corner

Conclusion:

Based on the information discussed on the previous articles, we can say that trusses are the preferred method for framing. I believe that the cost-effectiveness and quality that you get with trusses outweigh any flexibility you may get from a stick framed structure.

Building with trusses does require some up front work before producing the trusses for the project. Coordination with the architect, builder and framer goes a long way to ensure a successful truss job.

No doubt that this debate will continue through the years with parties from both sides making their case. We hope you have found this discussion useful and that it added some more information to the knowledge “bank” on this subject.

As always, we look forward to hearing from you. Which one do you think is the best option?

Read Part 1 in this series here.

Read Part 2 in this series here.

Read Part 3 in this series here.

Bill Hoover – Design Professional

Gould Design, Inc.