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Old 07-23-2012, 03:21 PM   #1
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Convert ranch to vaulted ceiling?


I have a 1960s era ranch with a very simple layout. The house is about 22' wide and 58' long. The load bearing wall runs down the center, dividing the house in half lengthwise and the 2x6 ceiling joists span from the load bearing wall out to the front and rear walls. It's one story of course and the attic space is unfinished/unconditioned. The roof is ridge/rafter construction with a 2x8 ridge and 2x6 rafters, so the rafters are nailed to the ridge board, the top plates of the outer walls, and the ceiling joists. Collar ties were only placed about every 5th or 6th rafter. There are also two king posts (2x4s) spaced evenly, about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way across the attic that extend from the load bearing wall up to the ridge board.

What I'm trying to determine is whether or not the house would be a candidate for a vaulted ceiling at all. I know that I'll have to consult a licensed contractor/engineer and all of that. I'm just curious at this point. We just want to open up a space about 16'x22' (the living room and the kitchen) in the house to make the space feel bigger and to make it a more open layout. I am hoping that if collar ties are placed on every rafter and additional king posts are used at either end of the room, supporting the ridge, that the roof would be just as strong if not stronger. I'm wondering if anyone here has undertaken a similar project with a simple ridge/rafter roof before?

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Old 07-23-2012, 06:05 PM   #2
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Convert ranch to vaulted ceiling?


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Originally Posted by Badfish740 View Post
I have a 1960s era ranch with a very simple layout. The house is about 22' wide and 58' long. The load bearing wall runs down the center, dividing the house in half lengthwise and the 2x6 ceiling joists span from the load bearing wall out to the front and rear walls. It's one story of course and the attic space is unfinished/unconditioned. The roof is ridge/rafter construction with a 2x8 ridge and 2x6 rafters, so the rafters are nailed to the ridge board, the top plates of the outer walls, and the ceiling joists. Collar ties were only placed about every 5th or 6th rafter. There are also two king posts (2x4s) spaced evenly, about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way across the attic that extend from the load bearing wall up to the ridge board.

What I'm trying to determine is whether or not the house would be a candidate for a vaulted ceiling at all. I know that I'll have to consult a licensed contractor/engineer and all of that. I'm just curious at this point. We just want to open up a space about 16'x22' (the living room and the kitchen) in the house to make the space feel bigger and to make it a more open layout. I am hoping that if collar ties are placed on every rafter and additional king posts are used at either end of the room, supporting the ridge, that the roof would be just as strong if not stronger. I'm wondering if anyone here has undertaken a similar project with a simple ridge/rafter roof before?
This is done all the time. We call them clipped ceilings. The collar ties/rafter ties would be set at a specific height so that you don't need a ridge beam and no posting down anywhere.

If you wanted a true cathedral ceiling and no rafter ties, what we do is set a beam directly underneath the existing ridge. This will hold up the ridge and rafters from spreading. All this has to be engineered.

With your roof where I'm from the 2x6 rafters have to be packed down at the bottom to a minimum of a 2x8 for insulation reasons. Your span isn't that big. I did this to my cousins house and he had a large span with 2x6 rafters. I put the beam underneath the existing ridge but the architect also call for collar ties underneath the beam along side every rafters were so long.

You have some good options here.

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Old 07-23-2012, 06:16 PM   #3
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Convert ranch to vaulted ceiling?


Joe Carola has summarized several options quite nicely, no need to repeat. I will point out that collar ties are intended to equalize uplift pressure on the roof, and actually have limited structural value. Certainly you CANNOT use collar ties to substitute for floor joists, which in addition to supporting the floor actually keep the walls from spreading due to lateral load exerted by the rafters on the exterior walls.

In addition to the option mentioned by Mr. Carola of installing a ridge beam underneath the existing ridge board, it is possible to replace the ridge board with a properly supported ridge beam. Typically the rafter connections to a ridge beam are very different than to a ridge board. When using a ridge beam, the connections are almost always done using Simpson or equivalent brackets which are specified based on the roof load. When a ridge beam is properly designed and installed, there is no need for collar ties.
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