Timber Roof Trusses – To Paint the Rafters or Not

Painting timber roof trusses

Roof trusses and rafters for houses, sheds, and garages are generally made from timber or steel. And when it comes to finishing, they can be left natural or painted.

Many people love the idea of getting an exposed look while keeping them looking clear and natural, but others would rather not bother with the upkeep and would just as soon paint them.

So, what are the pros and cons of each strategy? And what should you ideally choose if you are getting new trusses and rafters installed?

In this post, I will discuss both options to help you decide what to do with your newly installed timber roof trusses.

Painted Roof Trusses

When you install wooden roof trusses, you will anyhow need to finish them. Do not keep the exposed timber raw, as the external elements will gradually damage it.

The best way to protect your investment is to either stain or paint the wood which will give them a more uniform look. If you choose to go with a different color than the rest of your house, it can also add a bit of contrast and interest.

Another big advantage is that the paint or stain will make the trusses much easier to clean. When you finish the roof trusses with paint or stain, they will act as a sealant, which means dirt and grime will not be able to penetrate as easily.

On the downside, painting your roof trusses will require some maintenance as you will need to repaint them every few years to keep the color looking its best.

Moreover, if you decide to paint or stain your roof trusses, you need to use high-quality exterior paint/stain that is designed to withstand the elements. Also, take care when painting around windows or skylights to avoid getting any paint on the glass.

painted trusses

Natural Looking Timber Trusses

If you have that “lovely natural wood” instinct, you can put up a clear natural finish such as polyurethane, lacquer, or a shellac varnish on your exposed timber trusses.

Unlike painted or stained, varnished trusses will allow the wood grains to “pop out” and give the timber a beautiful natural look.

If you decide to keep your roof trusses looking natural, you will find that they require very little maintenance as you won’t need to repaint or restain them every few years. The sealant you put in will still look new for decades with minimal maintenance.

One of the drawbacks of leaving your roof trusses looking natural and transparent is that they can start to look dull and weathered over time if you have any windows or skylights – the direct sun rays can cause the wood to fade.

So, if you have a lot of sun exposure, it’s better to consider painting your roof trusses and keep them looking their best by giving them a fresh coat of finish in at least 2-3 years.

Whitewashed Timber Trusses

Another popular option is to whitewash your wooden roof trusses to protect them from weathering. This can be either kept in its natural state (white) or sealed with a tinted coating.

Whitewashing gives the wooden trusses a rustic look while allowing some grains to show through. Also, if you have a dark-colored home, whitewashing your roof trusses can help to make it appear lighter and airier – it helps to brighten up a dark space.

The main drawbacks of whitewashing the timber trusses are that it can be challenging to achieve an even finish, can be time-consuming to apply and it doesn’t offer the optimum level of protection.

Unlike, oil-based paints, stains, or natural varnishes like lacquer, whitewashing is a water-based finish that is not very durable and long-lasting.

What if My Exposed Rafters are Steel?

Steel is also a solid go-to material for exposed rafters as it has a clean, modern look that can complement any home style.

The reason why it’s becoming so popular for trusses and rafters is its ability to withstand the elements without needing any finish (paint, stain, or varnish).

The only downside to using steel for your exposed rafters is that it can be expensive. And over time, it can rust, tarnish, or get dull. If not, you may get bored of the monotonous look of the natural steel.

If that’s the case, getting the steel rafters repainted is your option. But let me be frank, the process will not be very easy.

The first stage will be to clean the old steel rafters to remove the dust, oils, or rust that may accumulate. Depending on the condition of the steel, you can use methods like sanding, scrubbing, brushing, or media blasting (which will require a skilled technician and special equipment).

Once you have achieved the adequate surface for the new paint to adhere to, you can paint over the steel roof trusses in the second step.

A coat of zinc primer (comparable to galvanization) followed by epoxy two-component paint is usually a good fit for exposed steel roof trusses subjected to high humidity. But depending on the kind of look and finish you desire to achieve, you can also use acrylic paints, enamel, or intumescent coatings.

Here’s Why You Should Prime & Seal Drywall Before Painting?
prime new drywall

When you put up new drywall, it may seem that all you need to do is add two coats of Read more

How Much Paint Do I Need for Covering 1000 Square Feet?
how much paint

Estimating the amount of paint you will need to paint your house is not rocket science. But it can be Read more

Does Paint Dry Faster in Heat or Cold?
paint dry faster

To dry appropriately, paint uses four components; Additives, Binder, Filler, and Solvent. The effectiveness of all four will depend on Read more

Should I Paint My Wood Trim White? (Pros and Cons)
Wood Trim White

Painting your house is always a big deal, with lots of questions and decisions to work on. Though every house Read more

About | Contact | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use

error: Content is protected !!