Building with Steel Trusses

Steel trusses are commonly used in commercial construction. They are pre-manufactured to order and are made in an open web design.

The advantage of using steel trusses for building is that they are stronger than wood, and greater open space inside a building is possible. They are ideal for barns, large storage buildings and commercial construction.

Steel Trusses in Construction

Trusses are used to build more than buildings. Some bridges use a truss design which is clearly visible since the trusses in bridges are usually left uncovered. Steel bridges made with a design that forms triangles are called truss bridges and work on the same principles as roof trusses. These trusses are used to span large spaces or to create tall free standing structures. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is an example of truss construction which demonstrates the strength and durability of the design.

Building a Roof with Steel Trusses

As a rule, A steel truss is used in steel frame buildings and are not compatible with wood framing. They are available in a wide variety of roof styles including gable, gambrel, pent and even dome. In general, the specifications for the trusses are sent to the manufacturer and software design programs for steel trusses are available to perform the necessary calculations. It is also possible to design steel trusses using computer assisted truss design software (CAD).

DIY Steel Construction

In most cases the average person does not have the expertise to design steel frame buildings, but a variety of prefabricated small steel building kits are available for sheds, barns and garages. These kits include steel framing and trusses with detailed directions for assembly. Larger structures require that trusses be installed by experienced workers with expertise in steel construction since incorrect installation will impact the structure’s integrity.

Repair and Maintenance of Steel Trusses

As a rule, steel trusses do not require repair or maintenance, but they are subject to rust if exposed to water or moisture. With this in mind, periodic checks for roof leaks and prompt roof repairs should be all that is required for maintenance. Most manufacturers offer a 15 to 20 year warranty on the steel trusses they provide to builders.

Special Equipment for Installation

Like all roof trusses, steel trusses usually require special equipment for handling. Although they are usually lighter in weight than wood trusses, a crane is required to move them into place in large or tall structures. Proper installation of trusses is critical if the trusses are to maintain their strength and bear the forces of tension and compression they are designed to carry. With the exception of small prefabricated buildings, installation of steel trusses requires experts.


Steel trusses provide greater strength than wood trusses and allow greater flexibility in building design. They are not commonly used in the construction of single family dwellings, but are used in the construction of multi-family residential structures and commercial buildings. Steel trusses are manufactured to order and are widely used through the construction industry.