A wooden truss is a structural support element used for constructing roofs and floors. It consists of a series of wooden triangles fit together with metal plates and other fasteners. Wooden truss systems are pre-engineered and built in factories. They provide a precisely-constructed alternative to wood joists, which are built on site by installers using lumber and fasteners. Wooden trusses are found on the majority of residential structures in North America and Europe, and can also be found on a variety of commercial structures.
A wooden truss system is often chosen because of the many advantages this system offers over other types of structural framing. Because they are precisely engineered, wooden trusses are capable of spanning greater distances than traditional joist framing. This results in more design flexibility and fewer intermediate supports, such as columns. The open triangle structure of a wooden truss also makes it easy for installers to fit mechanical and electrical components within the floor or roof framing.
Trusses are engineered to specific sizes. This means that every truss will have exactly the same dimensions, making it easy for installers to fit the trusses to the surrounding structure. There are fewer surprises during construction, and the job can be completed much faster. This is particularly advantageous during roof construction. A wooden truss system allows roofers to get the building closed in quickly, which keeps building materials and workers protected from rain and other weather conditions.
Many builders who use wooden truss systems choose to leave the trusses exposed. This allows the truss to become part of the building's aesthetic design, and is widely used in buildings with a rustic or traditional style. A wooden truss can be built to almost any shape and design to fit any architectural plan. They can have a low-profile design for flat roofs and floors, or a gabled style for sloped roofs. Trusses can even be designed to create a cathedral or arch-shaped roof.
One of the most widely recognized advantages of a wooden truss is the reduced cost of this type of framing. Because of their precise engineering, trusses require less material than joists constructed on site. This leads to lighter loads for wall framing and foundation systems, which can cut costs and help speed up the project. These trusses can be installed much more quickly than wooden joists, and require less skilled labor, resulting in significant labor cost reductions.