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San Antonio Roofing: Article About Rafters and Joists

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The outer surface of a roof is vital to protecting a house against the elements. It also plays a big part in displaying the house's character and style. Choosing the right roofing material can be a difficult decision. For example, choosing between shingles or metal involves several factors. Cost, longevity and appearance all come into play. Then comes the time to choose the color, and the decision making process begins all over again. Homeowners can turn to a San Antonio roofing professional for guidance regarding the advantages and disadvantages of each style of roofing. Understanding a roof's basic components can help homeowners make their choice.

Rafters are the supporting beams of sloped roofs. They usually begin at the peak of the roof and slope downward to where they overhand the outside walls by a couple of feet. Depending on the size of the structure and the distance between the rafters, they can be constructed of 2 x 4, 2 x 6, 2 x 8 or 2 x 10 lumber. Spacing can be in increments of 12, 16 or 24 inches with 16 being the most common.

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This is because for every 4 foot section of sheathing, there will be two supports in the center section rather than only one when 24 inch spacing is used. Rafters support the weight of the sheathing and outer surface of the roof. They must be strong enough to stand up against strong winds as well as the extra weight of rain, snow and other elements.

Rafters are connected to ceiling joists that run horizontally and connect the rafters on opposite sides of the house to each other to form a triangle shape. This gives the structure strength and stability. Because the rafter and joist assemblies are attached to the walls, the walls will not spread. The bottoms of the joists become the parts of the construction to which the ceiling is fastened. The space between the top of the joists and the rafters constitutes the attic. People who use the attic for storage often nail sheets of plywood to the ceiling joists to make flooring on which to store their items.

Roof joists are used on roofs with a very low slope. They typically run from one side of the house to another and are often supported in the middle by interior load bearing walls. In choosing the construction material, consideration must be given to the weight of the ceilings they support.

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