Steel Roofs on Engineered Trusses

In our search for affordable house parts we turned to designing roofs that can be built with engineered trusses. These trusses cost much less than a hand-framed roof; they use shorter lengths of smaller dimensioned wood; and they speed up the building process. Trusses provide a “greener” alternative to conventional roof framing.

Trusses are built in the manufacturer's plant and delivered to the site on a truck where they can be raised into place by hand or with a small crane. Gable ends can be finished and painted on the ground, leaving out only the window for later installation; this strategy minimizes time spent on ladders, which is always welcome in building.

We design with skip sheathing (1"x6" pine on 16" centers) instead of poisonous OSB (oriented strand board) to further reduce costs and pollution – and to minimize danger to carpenters and roofers who can use it to secure themselves while working. However, sheet goods are necessary for any roof that is less than a 4/12 pitch.

Roof trusses can be designed to make built-in attics or rooms. We recommend spending a little more for room trusses so the space can be finished later if desired.

Clay or slate tiles are used the world over – but today in the US, only very upper-end housing gets this beautiful finishing touch. Asphalt shingles are standard here, regardless of their short lives and environmentally destructive manufacture and disposal.

Asphalt shingles have, however, shown recent improvement in durability and are now advertised to "last a lifetime"; the expert opinion of our roofer is that they may actually last 40 or 50 years – which is a big improvement – although he believes their looks will wear poorly because of staining, causing replacement of otherwise still-sound roofs. He recommends steel roofing because it cost less, has so many fewer call-backs for leaks, and can be expected to last over a century.

We use 26 gauge 36" wide "Galvalume" which is a galvanized steel roof made by Union Corrugating.

Steel roofing comes in an assortment of colors – which adds about a third to its cost. We are fond of the ordinary metal color that dulls over time and looks like the sky.