What Do You Call The Wood That Holds The Roof?

Have you ever wondered what the wood that holds the roof is called? Well, you’re in the right place! In this article, we will explore the answer to this question and dive into the fascinating world of roofing structures. From the importance of this vital component to the various types of wood used, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get started and uncover the mystery behind the wood that holds the roof!

Wood used to support the roof

Whether you realize it or not, the wood that holds the roof is an essential component of a building’s structure. It provides support, stability, and strength to ensure that the roof remains intact and secure. In this article, we will explore the different types of wood used for roof support, the role and importance of this wood, the factors that influence the choice of material, and alternative options available. We will also delve into the maintenance and care required for roof support wood, professional roofing terminology associated with it, and the historical and cultural significance of using wood in roof construction.

Different types of roof support wood

When it comes to roof support, various types of wood can be used depending on the design, structure, and specific requirements of the roof. The most commonly used types are:

Common rafters

Common rafters are horizontal wooden beams that span from the ridge of the roof to the eaves, providing structural support for the roof decking and other components. They are typically evenly spaced and play a crucial role in distributing the weight of the roof evenly.


Purlins are horizontal beams that support the rafters, providing additional strength to the roof structure. They are usually placed parallel to the ridge and help distribute the weight of the rafters and roof covering to the load-bearing walls or other supporting structures.


Trusses are pre-fabricated wooden frames that consist of interconnected members designed to distribute the weight of the roof and support the overall structure. They offer excellent strength and are often used in modern construction due to their efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Related articles you may like  Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles?

Collar ties

Collar ties are horizontal beams or boards that connect opposing rafters near the top of the roof. They help to prevent the roof from sagging or spreading apart under the weight of heavy snow, wind, or other external forces.

Valley rafters

Valley rafters are diagonal beams that are used to support the intersection of two sloping roof planes forming a valley. They help to maintain the structural integrity of the roof and effectively divert water away from the valley, preventing leaks and water damage.

Role and importance of roof support wood

The roof support wood plays a crucial role in maintaining the structural integrity and overall stability of a building’s roof. Here are some key aspects highlighting its importance:

Structural integrity

The wood used to support the roof ensures that the weight of the roof, including the roofing materials and any additional load, is distributed evenly to the load-bearing walls or supporting structures. It provides crucial support and prevents the roof from collapsing under its own weight.

Weight distribution

Roof support wood helps to distribute the weight of the roof evenly, preventing excessive stress on any particular area. This ensures that the load is properly transferred to the foundation or structural elements, reducing the risk of structural failure.

Resistance against weather elements

Wood used for roof support is typically treated or selected for its ability to withstand the impact of weather elements such as rain, snow, wind, and sunlight. It is important to choose wood that can resist rotting, warping, or decay caused by long-term exposure to moisture or extreme temperatures.

Factors influencing the choice of roof support wood

When deciding on the type of wood to use for roof support, several factors come into play. These include:

Roof design and pitch

The design and pitch of the roof can greatly influence the choice of wood. Different roof designs and slopes may require specific types of wood to ensure optimal structural support and load-bearing capacity.

Budget considerations

Budget is an important factor when selecting roof support wood. The cost of different wood types can vary significantly, so it is crucial to consider the budget constraints and choose wood that provides the necessary strength and durability within the allocated budget.

Building codes and regulations

Building codes and regulations dictate certain specifications and requirements for roof support materials. It is essential to ensure that the chosen wood complies with the local building codes to meet safety standards and receive necessary approvals.

Common materials used for roof support wood

Roof support wood can be classified into three main categories: softwood, hardwood, and engineered wood products. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, making them suitable for different applications.

Related articles you may like  Silicone Coating Roof Ravenswood, WV


Softwood, such as pine, spruce, or fir, is commonly used for roof support due to its strength, affordability, and availability. It is lightweight and easy to work with, making it a popular choice for both residential and commercial roofing projects.


Hardwood, such as oak, maple, or mahogany, offers superior strength and durability compared to softwood. It is often used for heavy-duty roof support structures and in areas where the wood needs to resist decay or insect damage. However, hardwood is typically more expensive and less readily available than softwood.

Engineered wood products

Engineered wood products, such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL) or glued laminated timber (glulam), are manufactured by combining layers of wood veneers or strands with adhesives. These products offer enhanced strength, stability, and resistance to warping or splitting. They are commonly used when long spans or heavy roof loads need to be supported.

Advantages and disadvantages of different wood types

Different wood types offer specific advantages and disadvantages. Here are some key considerations for each type:

Strength and durability

Hardwoods generally offer superior strength and durability compared to softwoods. They can withstand heavy loads and resist rot, decay, and insect damage more effectively. However, softwoods can still provide ample strength for many roofing applications.


Softwoods are generally more cost-effective than hardwoods. They are readily available and tend to be less expensive. Engineered wood products can also offer cost advantages due to their efficiency in manufacturing and consistent quality.


Both softwood and hardwood can be considered sustainable options if sourced from responsibly managed forests. Softwoods are known for their fast growth and renewability, making them an environmentally friendly choice. Engineered wood products also often utilize smaller, lower-grade trees or wood waste, reducing the impact on forests.

Resistance to pests and decay

Certain hardwoods, such as cedar or redwood, are naturally resistant to decay and insect infestation. These woods are often used in areas where moisture, termites, or other pests are prevalent. Proper treatment and maintenance can also improve the resistance of other wood types to decay and pests.

Maintenance and care of roof support wood

To ensure the longevity and performance of roof support wood, regular maintenance and care are essential. Here are some key considerations:

Regular inspections

Periodically inspecting the roof support wood for signs of damage, decay, or pest infestation is crucial. Look for cracks, rot, or sagging areas and address them promptly to prevent further damage.

Preventive measures

Applying appropriate coatings such as water repellents or preservatives can help protect the wood from moisture, UV rays, and pests. Regular cleaning and clearing debris from the roof can also prevent water pooling or excessive weight on the structure.

Related articles you may like  Is Being A Roofer Hard On Your Body?

Repair and replacement

If any damage or deterioration is identified during inspections, immediate repair or replacement of the affected wood is necessary. Engaging professional contractors or roofers experienced in working with roof support wood is recommended for proper repairs.

Alternative materials for roof support

While wood is a traditional and widely used material for roof support, several alternatives exist that offer different benefits and characteristics. Here are a few alternative materials:

Steel beams

Steel beams provide excellent strength, durability, and load-bearing capacity. They can accommodate longer spans and larger roof loads, making them suitable for commercial or industrial roofing projects. However, steel beams may be more expensive and require specialized expertise for installation.


Concrete can be used for roof support in the form of columns, walls, or precast panels. It offers exceptional durability, fire resistance, and load-bearing capacity. Concrete structures can require more time and effort during construction and may be limited by design considerations.

Composite materials

Composite materials, such as fiberglass or carbon fiber, are lightweight, strong, and resistant to corrosion or decay. They offer flexibility in design and can be custom-made for specific roof support requirements. However, these materials may have higher upfront costs and require specialized knowledge for installation.

Professional roofing terminology for roof support wood

Understanding the terminology associated with roof support wood can be valuable when communicating with professionals in the roofing industry. Here are a few common terms:

Rafter tails

Rafter tails refer to the ends of the common rafters that extend beyond the supporting walls. They can be left exposed or concealed, adding architectural detail to the roofline.

Hip rafters

Hip rafters are diagonal wooden beams used to support the external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.

Jack rafters

Jack rafters are shorter wooden beams that run at an angle from the wall plate or hip rafter to a ridge. They support the sheathing or decking between the common rafters.

Historical and cultural significance of roof support wood

Wood has long been utilized in roof construction, holding significant historical and cultural significance. Here are a few points to consider:

Traditional timber framing

Traditional timber framing techniques date back centuries and are still preserved in many cultural architectural styles. These techniques involve intricate joinery and craftsmanship to create elaborate and durable roof support structures.

Cultural influences on roof design

Different cultures and regions have influenced roof designs, leading to various shapes, angles, and structural elements. The choice of wood and construction methods often reflects the cultural heritage and environmental conditions of a particular area.

Roofing styles throughout history

Roofing styles have evolved over time, influenced by advancements in technology, design preferences, and societal needs. Wood has played a vital role in preserving the authenticity and character of historical roofing styles, ensuring their longevity and cultural significance.

In conclusion, the wood that holds the roof is a critical component of any building’s structure. With various types of wood available for roof support, it is essential to consider the specific requirements of the roof design, budget constraints, and compliance with building codes. Regular maintenance and care are necessary to ensure the longevity of roof support wood, and alternative materials may be considered for specific applications. Understanding professional roofing terminology and appreciating the historical and cultural significance of wood in roof construction adds a deeper dimension to this crucial element of a building.