Difference Between Rafters and Trusses (With Table)

Multiple triangular webs render trusses sturdier than rafters. Moreover, they are factory assembled structures that simply need to be installed. While rafters are assembled on-site and can be hassling. Prefabrication makes trusses better supportive structures than rafters.

Rafters vs Trusses

The difference between rafters and trusses is that while trusses provide more support to the structure of a roof, the support provided by rafters is comparatively lower.

The framework of a truss comprises multiple triangularly webbed panes, which boost the strength of the framework to offer enhanced support to the rooftop. Alternatively, rafters are made with sloping outer beams that offer reduced support to the rooftop.

Comparison Table Between Rafters and Trusses

Parameters of ComparisonRaftersTrusses
Support OfferedRafters offer lower levels of support to rooftops.Trusses offer enhanced support to rooftops.
Number of BeamsComprise of only 2 beams.Comprise of multiple triangular webs of beams that boost the structural integrity of the framework.
Cost of InstallationHigher costs of installation.Lower costs of installation.
Time and Expertise NeededTime-consuming installation process that needs to be supervised by experts.Installation is completed in a short period of time with the help of the instruction manual provided.
Assembling the StructureThe structure is assembled on-site.The structure is prefabricated and factory assembled.
QualityQuality may be compromised as it is assembled on-site.Quality and accuracy of design are unparalleled because trusses are manufactured using computer-generated blueprints.
Ease of Future ModificationIt is easy to make changes in these structures.Making modifications in these structures can be a little complicated.
Aesthetic AppealNominal aesthetic appeal.Aesthetically more appealing.

What are Rafters?

Rafters are one of the most commonly used roofing systems in the world. Rafters have been used for generations and are classed as a part of the traditional modalities of rooftop frameworks. In a rafter framework, two beams slope from the central ridge to the topmost part of the rooftop.

Rafters are distinguished from other rooftop framing structures because they are assembled on-site. Hence, this method is also known as the stick framing method. The accuracy of construction needs to be extremely precise as otherwise the framework will offer compromised support.

This method of installation requires expert supervision and manual labor. It can take a while to complete the process of installing a rafter framework. All this adds to the cost of installing this variety of rooftop support. However, they are often favored due to the ease of making future modifications in the existing framework.

What are Trusses?

Trusses are another popular roofing system used frequently around the world. Hailed for their ease of installation and their cost-effective designs, trusses consist of multiple triangular webbed structures that offer enhanced support to the rooftop. Trusses are known for their ability to tie together the exterior walls of the building.

These prefabricated structural frameworks eliminate the need for on-site assemblage from scratch. They are manufactured using computer-generated blueprints that render them more accurate and reduces the potential for errors. Trusses are also well-known for the additional aesthetic beauty they add to houses.

Moreover, they are often a favored choice due to their comparatively hastened process of installation that is made available at a lower average cost. The multiple beams of a truss help equally distribute the load of the rooftop, thus making the structure sturdier than rafters.

Main Differences Between Rafters and Trusses

  1. The main difference between rafters and trusses is that while the former is a more supportive rooftop framework, the latter offers comparatively lower levels of support to rooftops. The extra triangular webs included in trusses enhance their structural integrity much more than the sloping beams of rafters.
  2. Rafters comprise of solely two main beams that support the rooftop as compared to the multiple beams that offer manifold support to the rooftop in a truss structure.
  3. The cost of installing trusses is comparatively lower than the installation costs associated with rafters. Installation of rafters can be a time and labor-intensive process. The extra labor expenses can be avoided by installing trusses rather than rafters.
  4. Rafters have to be assembled on-site, while trusses are shipped only after being completely assembled at factories. This reduces the hassle of installing trusses and also adds to their structural integrity.
  5. The aesthetic appeal of trusses is more pronounced than rafters, making them a favored choice for most.
  6. Installing rafters requires a lot of time and expertise. This prolongs the process of their installation. As trusses are prefabricated, their installation does not require much time. The instructions provided with the framework can be followed meticulously to quickly install the structure.
  7. Due to the interconnected beams in a trusses structure, making changes to the rooftop structure in the future may be tricky. Rafters are more conducive to future alterations.
  8. As rafters are produced on-site the quality and accuracy of the finished product may be compromised. But trusses are manufactured on the basis of computer-generated designs enhancing their accuracy potentials.


Rafters and trusses are structures that offer support to the rooftop of houses. Each of these structures has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, each is quite different from the other. The quality of support, aesthetic appeal, cost, and ease of installation of each is fairly contrary when compared to the other.

The choice between these two must always be based on a thorough evaluation of the pros and cons of each. One must also keep in mind the kind, size, budget, and expected result of the project at hand.

Overall the trusses are a better choice than rafters as they offer enhanced support at a comparatively lower price point. The only drawback with trusses is the difficulty associated with making future alterations to the frame.

If you think making future modifications to the rooftop frame will be an important component of your selection evaluations, then rafters may be a better-suited choice for you than trusses. Moreover, the support offered by rafters is not colossally different from that offered by trusses. Hence, they can also be a potent choice if budget constraints are not an issue.


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