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Ceiling Joists – What Are They?

These usually hidden members in your roof may seem like they are doing very little in the way of structural integrity. But make no mistake, joists are extremely important for your home. Please follow along and leave a comment if you loved the article!

  1. Get a completely free quote for any roofing jobs (no obligations).
  2. What is a ceiling joist and is it necessary for your roof?
  3. What are the types of ceiling joists?
  4. What is the size of a ceiling joist?
  5. How far apart should ceiling joists be?
  6. What is the difference between joists, beams and rafters?
  7. Can you cut a ceiling joist and what are the dangers?
  8. What is the easiest way to find a ceiling joist?

What is a ceiling joist and is it necessary?

A ceiling joist is a horizontal member that spans across your ceiling, used in framing to span an open space. These run between beams and transfer the load from your roof to the vertical members or studs.

Ceiling joists can fulfill an aesthetic element for your house on top of being an integral part to the integrity of your build. Exposed ceiling joists can look great in done right adding a layer of complexity to the look of your home.

Joists are often made out of wood, but can also be made out of steel or engineered wood (often called composite wood). For your typical wooden joists, these are positioned with the longer face positioned vertically for the structural integrity, giving it the ability to hold heavier loads. Steel joists have quite a variety of shapes, such as an ‘I’ or ‘C’ shape.

So are ceiling joists even necessary? Well yes, yes they are! Very necessary. The ceiling joist is essential to the health of your building. Without these, the pressure and the weight of the roof pressing down on your walls will cause a large amount of stress on the building and could cause your walls to shift. As per building code, ceiling joists are required for the building to be signed off as habitable.

Types of ceiling joists.

When building a roof, there are two major types to choose from, they are:

Exposed ceiling joists

Having these showing on your ceiling can be aesthetically pleasing to the eyes and have a layer of complexity to a house, giving a rustic look and feel. If done right it can also be a modern and transparent design. This is one of my personal favorites and I would recommend taking a look at having this in your home.

Hidden ceiling joist

This would be the standard that is definitely in most homes. Used for the practical aspect only and covered up by ceiling boards. This is common in most homes and almost always looks good no matter what style of house you have. It makes it easier to hide wiring and the like, where you would need to get a little creative with exposed ceiling joists

What is the size of a ceiling joist?

There is no set standard for sizes, however the most common size used in homes today that you will find in homes is 2 inches by 6 inches. These sizes can vary between 2 inches by 4 inches and 2 inches by 12 inches.

Depending on the size of the area you are trying to span and whether or not you are wanting to add a second floor to your property you would want to use different sizes as well as different types of wood for extra strength. It is recommended that you talk to a professional before you make these decisions. I’d like to point you towards the generous offer we have received from Networx. Simply Click Here and fill out your details and they will send you a quote. There are no obligations and this service is provided without costs to readers of EZPZ Roofing.

How far apart should ceiling joists be?

The standard to the spacing between your ceiling joists is 16 inches or 24 inches. This makes it easy for you to find them with a measuring tape and a stud finder. Once you have found the first one, the rest is a piece of cake to locate.

Depending on the size of the area you are trying to cover or the size of your room you will either have a spacing of 16 inches or 24 inches on center.

What is the difference between joists, beams and rafters?

While all of these are structural members that are used to take a load off your roof or another floor, it does seem like you could use these interchangeably and you would not be completely wrong. However, the way to differentiate between them is not difficult at all.

beam would usually be used to support joists spanning the opposite way of the joists. Baring a heavier load these would be quite a lot larger than the many joists that you see in your roof.

joist is quite a lot smaller and there are usually quite a lot of them spanning across your ceiling all in the same direction. These ease the stress that your roof would put on your walls. If not installed correctly your walls may shift or worse, collapse.

rafter comes in a series of sloped members that are in place to support primarily the roof deck and any of its associated loads, such as tiles or fiber cement.

Can you cut a ceiling joist?

While you can cut one or two ceiling joists without too much hassle, if you are wanting to install a ladder to access your attic or for an attic fan, it is recommended that you get an engineer to walk you through the process on how to best transfer the pressure load from your roof.

PRO TIP: If you are going to proceed to cut it yourself it is imperative that you install headers that will bridge the adjacent joists and evenly distribute roof load. This is a little out of the scope of this article, but if you would like to learn more, I will help/potentially write an article covering this topic more in depth.

Special Offer: Get a Free Roofing Quote (United States Only)

Networx has kindly offered to provide all my blog readers a free quote on all your roofing needs. I would highly recommend you take advantage of this generous offer by clicking here and getting your free quote for installing or repairing your ceiling joists. You will not be charged at all for the quote! 🙂

A simple way to find a ceiling joist.

Finding a ceiling joist is not too difficult with the right know-how and the right tools. A simple flashlight may even be enough to locate them, however, if this method does not work, a stud finder is not too expensive and can speed up the processing of locating the joist.

Flashlight method.

Step 1: This method is very easy if you can get it right. Standing on a ladder you can hold a flashlight at an obtuse angle to the surface of your ceiling so that the light is running nearly horizontal to your ceiling boards. Look out for dimples in the paintwork, where you see a dimple, this is the location of a nail that is holding your ceiling board to your joists. Once you have found one, using a measuring tape you should easily be able to find the rest.

Step 2: If you are not sure if your joists are spaced 16 inches apart or 24 inches apart, measure from the nail and a right angle across your roof 16 inches and lightly hammer a nail into your ceiling, if there is a lot of resistance you have found your next joists. If not try again but measure 24 inches. If you still have not found a joist you may be measuring the wrong direction and should try running the tape measure the other way.

Stud finder method.

Step 1: First, you want to calibrate your stud finder. Follow the manual that you got with your product for this step. To calibrate your stud finder you will need to hold it on your ceiling board just a few inches away from the wall where you know there will not be a joist. Doing this will calibrate the depth so that the stud finder can locate the density of the joist.

Step 2: Measure 16 inches from the wall with a tape measure and run the stud finder over that area, when it lights up, you have found your ceiling joist. If it does not light up try again 24 inches from the wall. Continue to do this across your roof to find all of them.

So in conclusion, ceiling joists are undoubtedly extremely important for the health of your building. You can use this to your advantage though. Why not get a FREE quote on getting exposed ceiling joists? These look great in most homes and look very appealing to the eyes as well as give a beautiful modern feel to your home. Have a look above to take advantage of the generous offer provided by Networx to all my blog readers.

Please feel free to leave any comments below if you just enjoyed the article, or if you have had some experience with the above and would like to share it with our community.

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