What Is Roof Framing Called?

Roof framing, commonly referred to as “rafters,” plays a crucial role in the construction of a roof. It provides the structural support necessary to withstand the weight of the roofing materials and external elements. Understanding the terminology surrounding roof framing is essential for homeowners and aspiring builders alike. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of roof framing, including its purpose, types, and key components. Get ready to embark on an enlightening journey into the world of roof framing and discover the key terminology associated with this vital aspect of construction.

What Is Roof Framing Called?

Roof framing is the structural framework that supports the weight of the roof and transfers it to the walls of a building. It is an essential component of any construction project and plays a crucial role in providing stability, strength, and durability to the overall structure. There are several different methods of roof framing, each with its own unique characteristics and advantages. In this article, we will explore the various types of roof framing and discuss their definitions, types, advantages, and disadvantages.

Roof Trusses

Definition of Roof Trusses

Roof trusses are prefabricated triangular structures that consist of interconnected members, such as beams and joists. These components form a rigid framework that supports the weight of the roof and distributes it evenly across the walls.

Types of Roof Trusses

There are several types of roof trusses, including the king post truss, queen post truss, Fink truss, Howe truss, and Pratt truss. Each type has its own unique design and is suitable for specific applications based on factors such as span, load-bearing capacity, and architectural requirements.

Advantages of Roof Trusses

Roof trusses offer numerous advantages over other roof framing methods. Firstly, they provide excellent structural integrity, ensuring a stable and durable roof. Additionally, roof trusses are relatively quick and easy to install, making them a cost-effective option for builders. Furthermore, they allow for open and spacious interior designs by eliminating the need for load-bearing walls or columns, thus maximizing usable space.

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Disadvantages of Roof Trusses

While roof trusses have many advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider. One important aspect is the reduced flexibility in architectural design compared to other roof framing methods. The standardized nature of trusses may limit the options for unique roof shapes or architectural features. Moreover, modifications or alterations to the roof structure can be more challenging and costly with trusses compared to other systems.


Definition of Rafters

Rafters are inclined structural members that run from the eaves to the ridge of the roof, supporting the roof deck and transferring the weight to the walls or beams of the building. They form the basic framework of traditional roof construction.

Types of Rafters

There are several types of rafters, including common rafters, hip rafters, valley rafters, and jack rafters. Each type has a specific function and is used in different areas of the roof to ensure structural stability and proper water drainage.

Advantages of Rafters

Rafters offer several advantages, particularly in terms of architectural design flexibility. Since they are custom-built on-site, they can accommodate various roof shapes and configurations, allowing for greater creativity. Rafters also provide greater accessibility for maintenance or repairs compared to other roof framing methods.

Disadvantages of Rafters

Despite their advantages, rafters have certain limitations. One drawback is the increased complexity and labor involved in their construction compared to prefabricated roof trusses. Additionally, the installation of rafters may require skilled carpenters and take longer to complete, potentially increasing construction costs. Moreover, the lack of a rigid framework in rafter systems may result in a less stable structure compared to roof trusses.


Definition of Purlins

Purlins are horizontal structural members that are placed on top of the rafters and support the roof covering materials. They play a vital role in distributing the load from the roof to the rafters and preventing sagging or bending of the roof deck.

Types of Purlins

There are different types of purlins, including solid purlins, spaced purlins, and composite purlins. The selection of the purlin type depends on factors such as the span of the roof, the weight of the roof covering materials, and the structural requirements of the building.

Advantages of Purlins

Purlins offer several advantages, including increased roof stability and improved load-bearing capacity. By providing additional support to the rafters, purlins help distribute the weight evenly, reducing the risk of structural failure or damage. Moreover, purlins can enhance the overall insulation and energy efficiency of the roof, resulting in reduced heating and cooling costs.

Disadvantages of Purlins

One disadvantage of using purlins is the added complexity in the roof construction process. The installation and alignment of purlins require precision and careful planning. This can increase labor costs and prolong the construction timeline. Additionally, the presence of purlins limits the usable space in the attic, making it less suitable for living or storage purposes compared to other roof framing methods.

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Collar Ties

Definition of Collar Ties

Collar ties are horizontal members that connect opposite pairs of rafters near the ridge of the roof. They help to prevent the roof from spreading apart under the horizontal forces exerted by wind or other external factors.

Types of Collar Ties

There are various types of collar ties, including regular collar ties, rafter ties, and twisted collar ties. Each type serves to strengthen the roof structure and maintain its stability under different load conditions.

Advantages of Collar Ties

Collar ties provide several advantages, particularly in areas prone to high winds or seismic activity. They enhance the overall structural integrity of the roof, reducing the risk of roof collapse or damage during extreme weather events. Collar ties also allow for greater design flexibility, as they can be incorporated into different architectural styles while maintaining the structural integrity of the roof.

Disadvantages of Collar Ties

One potential disadvantage of collar ties is their potential interference with the usability of the attic space. Depending on their placement, collar ties may limit headroom or obstruct the installation of utilities or storage platforms in the attic. Moreover, the installation of collar ties may require additional labor and materials, increasing construction costs.

Scissor and Attic Trusses

Definition of Scissor Trusses

Scissor trusses are a type of roof truss that feature sloping or curved lower chords, resulting in a vaulted or cathedral ceiling. This design creates a visually impressive and spacious interior, making scissor trusses popular in residential and commercial construction.

Definition of Attic Trusses

Attic trusses are roof trusses that combine the benefits of trussed roof construction with the provision of an open attic space. These trusses allow for improved attic accessibility and usability while maintaining structural integrity and aesthetics.

Advantages of Scissor and Attic Trusses

Scissor and attic trusses offer several advantages. Firstly, they provide an open and expansive interior space, creating a sense of grandeur and flexibility in design. This makes them particularly suitable for areas where height or open views are desired. Additionally, these trusses can increase the overall value of a property by creating unique and visually appealing living or storage spaces.

Disadvantages of Scissor and Attic Trusses

One disadvantage of scissor and attic trusses is their increased complexity and cost compared to traditional roof framing methods. Their design and construction require specialized engineering expertise and may involve larger, more expensive timber members. Moreover, modifications or alterations to these trusses after installation can be challenging and costly.

Hip and Valley Rafters

Definition of Hip Rafters

Hip rafters are inclined structural members that connect the corners of a building to a central ridge. They support the weight of the roof and provide stability and strength to the hip sections of the roof.

Definition of Valley Rafters

Valley rafters are inclined structural members that join two intersecting roof planes along a valley line. They transfer the load from the valley section to the exterior walls or other supporting members of the roof structure.

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Advantages of Hip and Valley Rafters

Hip and valley rafters offer several advantages in terms of overall roof stability and architectural design possibilities. They provide additional support and reinforcement to the roof structure, preventing sagging or shifting of the roof planes. Moreover, these rafters can create visually appealing roof profiles and add architectural interest to the building.

Disadvantages of Hip and Valley Rafters

Despite their advantages, there are some disadvantages associated with hip and valley rafters. One consideration is the increased complexity and labor involved in their installation compared to simpler roof framing methods. The angles and connections of hip and valley rafters require precise calculations and skilled craftsmanship. Additionally, the presence of hip and valley rafters can make roof repairs or modifications more challenging and costly.

Cantilevered Roof Trusses

Definition of Cantilevered Roof Trusses

Cantilevered roof trusses are a specialized type of roof framing system that extends beyond the support walls or beam, creating an overhang. This design allows for additional covered space and can enhance aesthetics or serve functional purposes, such as providing shade or shelter.

Advantages of Cantilevered Roof Trusses

Cantilevered roof trusses offer several advantages, particularly in architectural design and outdoor living spaces. They can create unique and visually striking roof configurations, adding aesthetic appeal to a building’s exterior. Additionally, cantilevered roof trusses can provide shade or shelter to outdoor areas, increasing the usability and comfort of spaces such as patios, balconies, or entranceways.

Disadvantages of Cantilevered Roof Trusses

One disadvantage of cantilevered roof trusses is their structural complexity and potential for increased construction costs. The design and construction of a cantilevered system require careful engineering and specialized techniques to ensure stability and proper load distribution. Moreover, the additional materials and labor needed for a cantilevered roof can contribute to higher construction expenses.

Gable Roof Framing

Definition of Gable Roof Framing

Gable roof framing is a widely used method that features two sloping roof planes that meet at a ridge, forming a triangular shape. This style is common in residential and commercial buildings due to its simplicity and functionality.

Advantages of Gable Roof Framing

Gable roof framing offers several advantages. Firstly, it is relatively straightforward and cost-effective to construct, making it a popular choice for builders. Additionally, the sloping roof planes facilitate water drainage and prevent the accumulation of snow or debris. Gable roofs also provide ample attic space and ventilation opportunities, which can contribute to improved energy efficiency and comfort.

Disadvantages of Gable Roof Framing

While gable roof framing has its advantages, there are some drawbacks to consider. One disadvantage is the increased vulnerability of the roof to high winds. The triangular shape of gable roofs can create uplift forces during severe weather conditions, potentially leading to roof damage or failure. Moreover, gable roofs may limit design possibilities, as their symmetrical shape may not be suitable for all architectural styles or preferences.


In conclusion, roof framing plays a crucial role in the stability and strength of a building’s roof structure. The different types of roof framing, such as roof trusses, rafters, purlins, collar ties, scissor and attic trusses, hip and valley rafters, cantilevered roof trusses, and gable roof framing, each offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The choice of roof framing method depends on various factors such as architectural design preferences, structural requirements, budget constraints, and local building codes. By understanding the characteristics and implications of each roof framing system, builders and homeowners can make informed decisions to ensure a durable, safe, and aesthetically pleasing roof for their buildings.