07:36AM | 08/12/03
Member Since: 08/11/03
1 lifetime posts
I currently have a contract down on a new home (built 2003) that is complete. I had an inspection and the inspector told me that among other things the roof rafters were finger-jointed lumber that was not certified. He also found that the main ridge board was three seperate pieces that have not been properly braced or spliced. When the builder was confronted about this he stated that the entire roof structure was up to code and there was nothing wrong with it.

I have contacted another builder which told me that all roof rafters and ridge boards should be one solid peice of wood with no joints. I currently am trying to contact the city code enforcement to find out what the actual city code is, but they are being unresponsive and I don't feel that I will be able to get much out of them before my option period ends.

Any help/opinions would be greatly appreciated.


01:37PM | 08/12/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
I'm not a builder, but I don't like the sound of this either. You wouldn't happen to be in snow country would you? Snow can be VERY heavy!


08:09PM | 08/12/03
Member Since: 01/28/03
694 lifetime posts
"Fingerjointed" lumber is not a 'structural' lumber....and any builder worth half his ass or brain knows that.

"Fingerjointed' lumber can ONLY be used on non-bearing walls according to code...NEVER for rafters....NEVER for ridge boards...

You got 'screwed' big time.

Hope your local code bears it out....


02:07AM | 08/13/03
Member Since: 01/14/03
265 lifetime posts
That's not necessarily true. Finger jointed lumber is, indeed, made for and used interchangebly with sawn lumber for structural purposes...if and only if it has been manufactured and graded for such use. As the wood materials themselves are the very same as used for sawn lumber, the difference in the grading of finger jointed lumber comes mainly from the type(s) of adhesives used and the way the joints are cut, although the joint cutting varies very little.

If you go to 'Google' and type in 'finger jointed lumber' and then do an advanced search for 'rafters', you'll find a lot of information on the subject(s). Here's a couple of links to start.


07:18AM | 08/13/03
Member Since: 06/06/03
1250 lifetime posts
Interesting. I can ALMOST believe their claims.

OK, I'm not an engineer or anything; just someone who'd be asking the same questions as "shotts" buying a home.

I can believe lab testing can "almost" replicate "real world" conditions--stresses of heat, cold, expansion, etc. I can believe finger-jointed for studs (vertical pressure) but I'm skeptical for rafters. I hope I'm wrong, but I just can't buy the fact that adhesives can make up for years and years of expansion, shrinkage, snow loads, wind stresses, etc. Unless the roof structure is seriously over-engineered to allow for all that somehow. It just seems like the wrong place to be looking for saving money to me. I mean, the roof structure's lifespan should be measured in decades--not just for the time it takes a builder to sell a house.

I also am not sure I buy that "it's up to code" statement either. There are plenty of houses that somehow get certified that have all kinds of things wrong with them. I'm dealing with shortcuts myself--taken by builders over 20 years ago--that I don't know how they ever got past inspectors. Bribes, perhaps.

Good luck, please keep us posted.


11:00AM | 08/13/03
Member Since: 01/14/03
265 lifetime posts
The fact that the industry can make claims that the finger jointed material can be used interchangebly with sawn lumber doesn't necessarily mean that it's up to code everywhere. I'm more than sure that there's many jurisdictions out there, and many plain folk like us, who might find that hard to swallow and be just a little more than skeptical.

After spending time today doing a little research, I'm not all that convinced that the material will work as well as claimed in tension or compression. The test results found on the web show similar test results to the old adage that the 'weld is stronger than the steel itself'. That's steel. This is wood. And there's a big difference.

Interesting that there a quite a few sites that advertise the stuff for molding and such, but nothing more. Either they haven't heard about the structural claims, or they don't believe them and won't stock the material.

I've yet to see someone actually try to use this material in load-bearing capacity. But the claims are out there. And it has been used. No record of insurance claims due to failure, though....yet.


07:08PM | 08/16/03
Member Since: 01/28/03
694 lifetime posts

I should already know better than to never say 'never'....

I stand corrected.

Although I have occaisionally seen finger jointed studs only in my region, I have never seen finger jointed lumber engineered specifically for joists or rafters.

In fact, the LAST time I even SAW finger jointed studs used in my region was 4-5 years ago. The FJ studs were ALWAYS more expensive than standard dimensional studs, so for cost reasons alone, the lumber was never embraced as a viable building alternative around here.

Goes to show you, however, that engineered lumbers and plywoods of all types can be built equal to or better than naturally occuring products.

For OSB, cost is about half that of conventional plywood for us. FJ studs cost more than standard dimensional
cost still seems to be the limiting factor to their acceptance, however.

Appreciate treebeard taking the time to set the record straight...Thanks.

[This message has been edited by homebild (edited August 16, 2003).]


05:16AM | 08/17/03
The thing you need to check on is if in fact the lumber in question is stamped and graded. If it is graded for structural use then I agree with the builder, it most likely is up to the building code. Due to the large volume of inspections many building inspectors are required to do this fact could have easily been overlooked during the framing inspection.

Your home inspector however stated that the lumber is not certified. This means to me that it is either not stamped or the stamped grade is not rated for structural use. If you can see the rafters I would suggest you look for any stamping on them and see what the grade actually is.

One of the biggest advantages to finger jointed lumber (that has not been touched on here) is that it does not warp and twist nearly as much as a solid piece of cut lumber. This can be a big benefit when you are trying to build a structure that will remain straight and true. I have done work on existing buildings that have finger jointed rafters in them. I have seen no evidence of the joints opening or failing. Only time will tell if that remains the case.

The new glues and adhesives are very strong and I do not believe they are a problem. The problem I see as a possibility is the manufacturing process. Is there sufficient quality control to insure that sufficient glue is being applied to all the joints? Poor quality control seems to be the biggest problem with finger jointed moldings I have used in the past. I am not a fan of finger jointed moldings because of this. I would think the quality control requirements for a structural grade lumber would be much stricter so long as it is enforced.


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