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Expert Advice: Choosing the Right Truss Style

Photo: Canadian Timberframes
When it comes to the structural integrity of a timber frame home, trusses play a strong supporting role — literally — by providing crucial support to the walls and roof. Aesthetically, trusses also serve as the crowning jewel in timber frame construction.
Because of their unmatched impact on the strength and beauty of a structure, it’s important to choose your trusses carefully. Fortunately, there are no right or wrong answers when selecting a style, according to Dan Trimble, a 20-year timber framing veteran and regional project manager for Woodhouse, the Timber Frame Company. “It all comes down to preference and the character and emotion you want to have in your home,” he says. “Trusses are a lot like a picture frame; they’re the frame that fits around your life in the home.”
While he affirms that virtually any of the four most common truss types — king post, queen post, hammerbeam or simple —  can be made to work in any home, as each style can have multiple variations, he offers these guidelines to help inform your selection:
  • A king post truss with straight knee braces fits a rustic, barn vibe. “It’s a straightforward design with simple lines,” he says.
  • For an elegant approach, consider the more intricate queen post truss. “It has a little extra drama,” he explains. For added softness, Dan suggests incorporating curved braces.
  • To create uninterrupted views to an end-wall window display, an ornate hammerbeam truss fits the bill, due to its central opening. Ideal for large great rooms, it’s able to span lengthy distances, as the rafters rest on short beams that project from the wall rather than on a single timber spanning the entire truss.
  • A simple truss has a limited span (usually 30 feet) but is an ideal fit for a cozy, cottage-style home, as it won’t overwhelm the space visually. This style also can serve as a cost-effective  way to add wood flair to a less public area, like a master bedroom.
No matter what style of truss you choose, it’s essential to consider the overall design of the home, including the size and shape of the structure, as well as factors like window placement. “Every element of the home should work together,” declares Dan. “If you focus on that, you’ll get it right.”

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