For many builders, trusses have replaced rafters as the go-to for roof support. Trusses provide a myriad of benefits that traditional rafters can’t. They’re strong, and they help offset the load on a building’s interior walls by transferring the weight to its outer walls.
Steel and wood are the most common building materials used for trusses. For modern trusses, steel has become a popular choice—particularly for commercial and industrial construction. But should you pick steel over wood for your commercial building? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Steel Trusses Used For?
Trusses are triangulated systems of interconnected structural elements—most commonly used for roof support. Steel trusses, in particular, are carefully designed to support a considerable amount of weight over a long span. This makes them ideal for many warehouses, event arenas, aircraft hangars, airport terminals, auditoriums, and other large-scale buildings.
If you’re considering steel trusses for your building, you’ll probably come across the following terms. Here are just a few types of trusses and where each type of truss is commonly used:
- Pratt (bridges, aircraft hangars, long-span buildings)
- North Light (industrial workshops)
- Warren (gantry/crane girders, long-span buildings)
- Fink (homes)
- Scissor (churches, museums, homes)
- Hip (areas with high winds and heavy snowfall)
- Flat (flat roofs of commercial buildings)
What Are the Benefits of Steel Trusses?
While steel trusses can be a lot more costly and more difficult to install than timber trusses, steel offers several advantages that wood can’t. Steel is lightweight, it can be installed quickly (but can require high-skilled installers), and it’s made of recycled materials. In contrast to wood, steel is also fire- and pest-resistant and won’t rot. It requires little maintenance over time and is 100% recyclable at the end of its lifespan.
Steel trusses can also withstand strong winds, heavy snow loads, and intense pressure. They can be fabricated to withstand high wind uplift, as well. Steel will typically last longer than wood, since wood naturally decays over time and is susceptible to termite damage.
Do I Need To Use Steel Frames?
While you need frames to be able to structurally develop your building, wood is just as durable and is actually a more affordable option. Unless you live in a region where you experience extreme weather—such as hurricane-force winds—or you’re building a very large structure that requires powerful support, you shouldn’t need steel trusses.
Timber trusses are strong, stable, and much more economical. Wood is also flexible, durable, secure, and has good sound insulation. If you live in Iowa or the Midwest, timber trusses are a much more affordable solution for your commercial building. They’re commonly used for constructing beautiful commercial spaces, educational facilities, custom homes, sheds, barns, and more.
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