Tiny houses are a growing trend in the home market and are gaining popularity among a wide array of demographics.
Generally, the accepted size range for a tiny house is 100-400 square feet of space.
They are a good project for do-it-yourselfers and those who want to do something active to limit their footprint.
In this article, we will discuss the key steps in creating tiny house roof framing, including rafters and trusses.
Although pre-made house kits are available, you can choose to avoid kits in favor of a custom build.
This both creates an opportunity to connect with your building, as well as make it easier to customize to your experience and location.
If you plan on transporting it with a vehicle, there are certain rules that will need to be followed.
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Disclaimer: Always follow safety requirements when carrying out building work. Our article only contains examples and you should consult a professional before carrying out any work.
How do you frame a tiny house roof?
The framing of the tiny house roof comes when the walls are all set up.
There are rules in place for tiny houses, so it is important to note that they cannot exceed thirteen feet in height in some countries, nor go much wider than a trailer.
There are plans you can consult out there if you need an image to follow, but here is a list of materials and basic steps.
Start with your tools, and make sure they are good ones.
These include hammers, saws, screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers.
New, if possible, or used/borrowed ones in good condition (free of rust or missing pieces, etc).
You will also need a set of basic construction materials, including multiple pieces of 2×6 lumber, at least one larger piece, sections of ¾” thick plywood, and enough square footage of both tar paper and shingles to cover the finished project.
In addition to the wood and coverings, you will need a significant assortment of screws and roofing staples.
The following steps are if you want to build a gabled roof, but there are options as well, if for instance you just wanted a flat roof for your tiny home.
Tiny house roof framing steps for a gabled roof and similar:
- Make sure your walls are square.
- A good starting point is to measure the frame of the outside wall to ensure it is square to itself, then each wall to each other. This creates the needed foundation for the roof.
- To start laying the gabled roof supports, cut several pieces of 2×6 lumber and form a triangle. Repeat.
- If putting windows in the gable, cut more 2×6 pieces and put a double stud in the window slot.
- These triangles will go on the facing ends to bracket the roof.
- Fit the gable frames to the top of the walls at either end.
- Lay the Top Ridge (the larger piece of wood) and fit it across the frames.
- This helps establish the endpoints when laying the rafters, and as a spine for the roof.
- Lay the plywood pieces on just the outside of the triangular endpoints, cutting out window slots if necessary.
- Start building the rafters. Measure and cut both ends of the wood pieces at 45-degree angles.
- The angled ends are to fit against the Top Ridge.
- Secure them with screws.
- Make a notch in one end of each piece of rafter lumber.
- Place the rafter pieces, one on each side, equally spaced. Attach the remaining plywood pieces to close the roof.
- Lay the tar paper on top, with roofing staples.
- Finish with shingles or another type of covering.
Tiny house roof rafters explained
You may want to add rafters to create storage space or reinforce the tiny house roof framing. Here are the steps. Take the lumber pieces and put them in place.
Attach with nails and screws at certain intervals.
You can also use hurricane straps to attach the lumber pieces to the wall. You can then attach hangers or additional pieces of wood to create storage space. Using the straps is the best practice.
When you go to put the finished roof on, the plywood is used for sheathing. You can even add some extra trim for a little flair.
A best practice is to measure and pre-cut the slots where the lumber will be sitting together to form the rafters.
Here’s a video showing how roof rafters are planned, measured, cut and secured to your tiny house roof:
As shown in the video, special rafter screws have been used to fix each rafter to the wall top plates.
They are long nails that are made from steel alloy and hold the rafters in place.
You can get them here.
Alternatively, hurricane ties are used to fix rafters or trusses to wall tops.
Some argue that they are more sturdy and will allow your tiny house to withstand more lateral force.
They may be worth considering if you’re happy to install them on each rafter.
Tiny house roof trusses explained
Trusses are a good way to create a shortcut in constructing the tiny house. A truss system is a network of premade double-loped beams attached to a bottom brace, instead of a ribbed system like traditional rafters.
Trusses come pre-engineered and can be installed instead of the aforementioned constructed rafter pieces.
The design of the trusses will vary depending on which type of roof you will be building, and those include flat, gabled, and saltbox types.
Make sure that you have help when installing these for safety and good placement.
How do you make a mini truss?
A mini truss is a key alternative to standard-sized trusses.
A mini truss is a smaller version of trusses, and can be used for certain tiny house roof frames.
They are made from wood, but certain commercial aluminum trusses can be bought instead.
This is a way to engage in the concept known as Optimizing Value, which is a mindset and system to reduce cost. A builder can do this by using more affordable pieces, for instance, or reducing the number used.
Using the OV system can therefore lead to mini truss designs for a tiny home.
That has been how to frame the roofs when building a tiny house.
You will want to custom-build it rather than piece together a kit. Some of the best practices include creating customization when placing the skeleton for the rafter.
You will need good tools, a large selection of 2×6 lumber, plywood boards, and additional pieces like screws and straps and shingles or other covering.
Make sure everything is set and aligned correctly, as something at the wrong angle could cause leaking.
Remember when handling power tools to practice safety first, and have a spotter when lifting lumber pieces into place. And be sure to follow the Golden Rule in construction: Measure Twice, Cut Once.