Floor Trusses vs Floor Joists – Trusses Will WOW You
Last week, I was downloading some photos from my fancy digital camera and I stumbled across hundreds of forgotten photos I shot while my daughter’s new home was being built on Mt. Desert Island in Downeast Maine.
I was there every day for the first few months capturing the framing of the home as well as installing all the plumbing, radiant floor heating, and electric in the home. I did my best to capture each aspect of the construction. It was snowy, cold, and windy but that just reminded me of all the cold days I had worked on my jobs. We didn’t have heated jackets back then and kept warm by constantly moving.
Does Ceramic Tile Work Better on Floor Trusses?
One of my favorite aspects of the construction of the home was the use of floor trusses vs floor joists. I specified floor joists for quite a few reasons not the least of which they produce amazing flat floors with no bounce. My daughter wanted tile floors throughout the home because of a dust allergy and flat floors with no bounce are a must for large-format tile.
Where Do You Get Floor Trusses?
Floor trusses are ordered at a traditional lumberyard. The companies that make roof trusses are the same ones that make floor trusses.
You may not even realize you can get floor trusses. I’m certain you’ve seen common roof trusses so you’re familiar with how smaller dimensional lumber like 2x4s can be cobbled together in such a way to be as strong or stronger than common dimensional larger lumber.
Are Floor Trusses Like Road Bridges?
Floor trusses borrow the same engineering principles bridge builders have employed for decades. There’s a very good chance you’ve driven across a Pratt truss bridge in your lifetime. This bridge is designed just like a floor truss or vice versa. It’s got a flat top and bottom chord with lots of triangles in between.
Just as a bridge can span a river resting on two piers, one on each shore, floor trusses can do the same in your new home or room addition. The ends of the floor trusses rest on the parallel exterior walls. There’s no need for interior bearing walls in the center of your home. Imagine the possibilities of an open floor plan when you get silly bearing walls out of the way!
Have You Installed Floor Joists?
Let’s talk about the humble traditional floor joist for a moment. I’ve installed thousands of them in my lifetime. I used them in the last home I built, a stunning Queen Anne Victorian home that had a maze of bearing walls throughout the house because of the traditional design.
Do Floor Joists Have Pesky Crowns?
Floor joists are sawn from logs. They often have inconsistent crowns to them. A crown is a hump in the floor joist. Humps and floor tile don’t play well together. You have to be careful with the size and placement of holes you might drill into a joist to run pipes and ducts. Even if you use the strongest and highest-grade lumber floor joist, you can’t come close to the distance you can span using a floor truss.
Do Firefighters Dislike Floor Trusses?
Floor joists are favored by firefighters. It takes a while for a fire to burn the lumber to a point it’s unsafe to be inside trying to knock down a fire. Floor trusses fail faster. If a fire is raging to this degree in a home, there’s a good chance burning plastics in the house that create poisonous toxic smoke have already caused fatalities of anyone not able to escape the inferno.
Fire departments can work with building departments and as the truck is on its way to a fire, the crew leader in the passenger seat can look up to see if the address has joists or trusses. He/she can then decide to not go inside to fight the fire. It just becomes a slightly larger insurance claim in the event firefighters do the right thing by extinguishing the fire by staying outdoors and staying safe.
Will Floor Trusses Save Money?
Another reason I favor floor trusses is how much money you will save when plumbers, electricians, and HVAC people discover how easy it’s going to be to install all the utilities in your new home. The open web design gives each trade copious amounts of room to run all the pipes, ducts, and cables with ease. Electricians will think they died and went to Heaven. They don’t have to drill any holes!
Is Drywall Easier to Hang on Floor Trusses?
Drywall hangers love floor trusses too. The drywall sheets meet on the bottom of a 2×4, not a narrow 1.5-inch-wide floor joist. There’s no need to install silly 1×3 furring strips as is common in some parts of the USA. Those things are a waste of money and time as far as I’m concerned.
How do you Minimize Floor Bounce?
Realize that you can work with the truss designer and make the floors as stiff as you want so there’s no bounce. To minimize bounce, the truss height is usually increased a few inches.
Should Floor Trusses be Used with Panelized Walls?
If you couple floor trusses with factory-built walls you can minimize construction time and get your house under roof faster. The precision of these factory-built components is remarkable. I can assure you the workmanship is far better than most you’ll get from carpenters stick-building your home.
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