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Correcting Out-of-Code 2x6 Rafters: Strong Backs and Purlins to the Rescue!

April 10, 2023
Correcting Out-of-Code 2x6 Rafters: Strong Backs and Purlins to the Rescue!

In the world of construction, building codes have evolved over time to ensure the safety and durability of structures. One common issue that homeowners may encounter during remodeling projects is finding out that their roof rafters are out of code, specifically when 2x6 rafters are spaced 24 inches on center (OC) and span over 10 feet. Although this may seem daunting, there is a solution to reinforce these rafters without the need for a complete roof replacement: using strong backs or purlins and kickers. In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of adhering to code, the purpose of strong backs and purlins, and how to properly install them to maintain the structural integrity of your home.

Understanding the Importance of Building Codes

Building codes are essential guidelines that ensure structures are built safely and to a certain standard. During home renovations and remodeling projects, it's important to comply with these codes to prevent potential hazards. When 2x6 rafters are spaced 24 inches OC and span over 10 feet, they may no longer meet current building codes, potentially resulting in insufficient support for the roof. This can lead to sagging, leaks, and even structural failure in extreme cases. Therefore, it is crucial to address this issue and bring your rafters up to code.

Reinforcing Rafters with Strong Backs and Purlins

Instead of undertaking a costly roof replacement, a more cost-effective and efficient solution is to reinforce your 2x6 rafters during your remodeling project by installing strong backs, also known as purlins, on the back side of the rafters. Purlins help distribute the load more evenly across the rafters, reducing the likelihood of sagging or failure. Additionally, they provide lateral support and help prevent twisting or bowing of the rafters.

To further enhance the support provided by purlins, you can use kickers (also called braces or struts). Kickers are diagonal supports that extend from the purlin to a load-bearing wall. Typically, kickers are installed at a 45-degree angle to ensure optimal support. However, it's important not to attach the kicker directly to the ceiling joists, as this may cause sagging in the joists and lead to damage to the sheetrock and the structural integrity of your home.

Proper Installation of Purlins and Kickers

To correctly install purlins and kickers during your home renovation, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the location of the purlins: Purlins should be evenly spaced along the length of the rafters, preferably at the one-third and two-thirds points.
  2. Install the purlins: Attach the purlins to the rafters using appropriate fasteners such as nails or screws. Ensure that they are level and securely fastened to prevent shifting.
  3. Locate the load-bearing wall: Identify a load-bearing wall that will support the kickers. The wall must be strong enough to bear the additional load transferred from the purlins.
  4. Install the kickers: Cut the kickers to the appropriate length and angle, and then attach them to the purlins and the load-bearing wall. Ensure that the kickers are securely fastened and provide adequate support.

If you discover that your 2x6 rafters are out of code due to their spacing and span during a remodeling project, don't panic. By properly installing strong backs or purlins and kickers, you can reinforce your rafters and maintain the structural integrity of your home. Always consult with a professional contractor or engineer before attempting any structural changes to ensure that your