Remember Paul Simon’s song “One Man’s Ceiling Is Another Man’s Floor?” Well, in most log homes, because of the popularity of high ceilings in great rooms and the lack of attics, the ceiling is also the roof.
The roof support system is a ridgepole and either rafters, which run perpendicular from the top of the walls to the ridge, or purlins, which run parallel to the ridge. A common arrangement is a rafter-and-purlin system, which combines purlins and rafters.
Besides providing support for the roof, rafters and purlins add to the interior beauty, so you often see log purlins and rafters that match the wall logs. This arrangement is especially desirable to create overhead drama in a great room lacking trusses, although trusses may be used for support and looks.
In homes with full second floors, the main-level ceilings often use log beams for overhead looks and to support the ceiling, which is also the upper-level floor. With this layout, the upper level, which is typically framed construction, rather than log, the ceiling-slash-roof can use rafters and purlins to add log elements.
Purlin Roof Example
Runs parallel to the ridgeline
Rafter Roof Example:
Photo: Joseph Hilliard
Runs perpendicular from the top of the walls to the ridgeline
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