Upend Your Hip End Truss Sales


Upend Your Hip End Truss Sales

Lay-On Gables are an opportunity for component manufacturers.

Lay-on gables can be an efficient way to provide a connection between trusses in hip end roof designs and can make an installer’s life easier in the field.

That field efficiency has led to their prevalence in some markets where labor skill and/or availability is tight, to the extent that hip roof truss packages almost always include them in those regions. However, this is not the case in every market, and in some they see minimal use. So there may be room for component manufacturers (CMs) to increase sales within their markets by emphasizing the benefits of lay-on gables to both installers and general contractors.

Remaining Flexible in Designing Lay-on Gables

One big benefit is that the design of lay-on gables is mostly an automatic process with today’s design software. Truss Technician Karl Ropp of Atlas Components, Inc. keeps the installer’s needs in mind, adding and subtracting elements that he knows will make things easier for framers in the field.

For example, Karl will often place ears on the main girder in a manner that reduces hassle for a framer (See Figure 1 below). Karl says, “We depress the flat top of the girder and leave the ear such that the height of the jack truss and the height of the ear on the girder are identical. That’s something where you don’t have to get your tape measure out to check. So it’s a visual cue, it’s like, ‘Hey, I see the ear on the girder, that’s where my hip is, and that’s where my jack is supposed to be.’…So this provides the [framer] a visual cue and a vertical reference that establishes the height of the jack all the way along the girder.”

Figure 1: Lay-on Gable Detail Used By Truss Technician Karl Ropp

Figure 1: Lay-on Gable Detail Used By Truss Technician Karl Ropp

He emphasizes that in order to give the framer flexibility when things are not as exact in the field, he only places the ears on the main girder, “Further up the roof…I leave the corner off…I’ve found it’s more forgiving for buildings that are slightly out of square or trusses that are maybe out of plumb or something like that. [The framers] can still make it work – keep the roof flat without having to fight multiple geometries.”

In the end, Karl emphasized that the important point is communication and a willingness to accommodate the design needs and preferences of the installer. Karl says, “If I have a chance, I’ll talk to the framer. I’ll say, ‘Hey, we do it this way, what do you think about that? We don’t do the ears [beyond the main girder],’ and they [may] say, ‘Oh no, we love the ears…do it this way.’…I say okay, no problem, and I’ll do it that way because it’s my job to serve them, and for something as minor as that, it’s a non-issue. We have automated jigging, we have automated saws, and it’s not a problem. We can adapt to a variety of different methodologies to keep the framer in their comfort zone.”

Promoting the Benefits of Lay-on Gables vs. Stick Framing

Why do many framers like lay-on gables? It speeds up field installation, decreasing overall cycle times.

In most building designs, truss spacing is specified to be 24 inches on center in accordance with the strength rating of sheathing panels. This is the case in the design of hip roofs featuring sloped hip ends as well. When slope is accounted for in these designs, the trusses forming the slope are farther from each other than 24 inches on center. Framers who choose to sheath these slopes using conventional stick framing are required to install extra framing that the sheathing can be safely attached to. To do so, framers are required to install purlins that run vertically down the entire length of the hip end to create secure and stable attachment points for sheathing.

This process requires hours of labor and subjects framers to prolonged risk of potential hazards. For a large hip section, stick framing may require installers to measure, cut and attach ten, 14' long 2x4s. The attachment process involves extensive time at high elevation, increasing the risk of falls. Moreover, hip trusses can be difficult to work with because the chords of the trusses are not aligned. In contrast, lay-on gables are most often single, pre-designed pieces that fit the roof’s geometry and are easy to secure quickly.

If you don’t see lay-on gables used in your market, understanding why installers are resistant to or simply unaware of them can help in effectively making the case for their benefit. Communicating the overall benefits of the safety, efficiency, and added stability that lay-on gables provide may be all that’s needed to convince a customer to try them.

About the Author: Kevin Kutschenreuter digs into the building code to help component manufacturers gain greater market acceptance of their innovative products. National Framers Council Executive Director Chris Tatge, SBCA Director of Code Development Larry Wainright and Andrew Morrow also contributed to this article. Morrow provides engineering and design support to the SBCA membership.