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Lakefront Log Home Project: Log Home Diary Entry #23, And Now the Roof

Diligent works ensure the structural integrity of the sheathing overhead.
by George and Marlyn Curnow

And Now the Roof

Log Home Diary Entry #23

Credit: George and Marlyn Curnow image | Open Space
The roof couldn’t come too soon for our liking. The gables are up, and 2-by-4 bracing creates a web of support to protect the gables from strong winds. We already experienced bracing preventing one windstorm from doing damage prior to the second-floor beam system installation. But we found it hard to get comfortable until everything was structurally tied together, and it takes a roof system to make that happen.

Quickly after the second-floor beam system was complete, a new crew of about six roofing specialists showed up. We think these are the tightrope walkers of the construction trade. It was sun up until sun down and a brisk work pace in between. The older guys stayed on the ground and did all the angular cuts that a roof requires, along with staging the pieces to be lifted into place. The younger guys performed the high-wire work and called down the measurements for the next cut.

Depending on the log-home design, the roof system is framed with rafters or manufactured trusses. Our log home called for rafters. Rafters are supported at their lower end by connecting them to the exterior walls. Rafters at the peak are supported by either a nonstructural ridge board or a structural ridge beam. In our case, both are used. (See picture.)

The second floor of our log home houses the ridge board. The key to proper construction using a ridge board is to be sure each rafter on one side of the ridge board is directly aligned with the rafter on the other side. This gives the roof structure strength and eliminates the need for support posts.

The cathedral ceiling over the great room of our log home was designed with a ridge beam. A ridge beam requires a support post or a wall at either end, and is manufactured to highly engineered specifications.

Our particular ridge beam weighed an estimated 800 to 900 pounds. Normally, a crane would be used to lift such an unwieldy load. Unfortunately, the available land around our home site was not adequate for such a crane. The roofing crew and our contractor decided that, with eight men, they could manhandle this beam. So, with floor-to-ceiling scaffolding at the wall of the great room, this behemoth was hoisted into place. If the great pyramids could be built by hand, this beam was nothing. Nevertheless, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the strength and agility of these men. Don’t let shortness of stature be confused with lack of strength.

We did not actually get to witness this event, as the crew chose to do it early in the morning with everyone fresh and rested. It’s just as well. They didn’t need to hear the sounds of gasps from spectators below.

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