ceiling storage in a pole much is too much?

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Forum topic by shelly_b posted 11-07-2012 11:46 AM 16920 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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850 posts in 2143 days

11-07-2012 11:46 AM

My shop is in a 30×40 pole barn. I would like to put storage up in the trusses, and have some of the shelves that hang from the ceiling also(really there is no ceiling right now, just the trusses and roof). The trusses span the 30ft and I am worried about putting to much weight on them. I really would rather not have any supports in the middle of my floor…I was wondering if I could just sister up to the truss with some 2×6s or bigger to strengthen them…or should I just limit my upper storage?

22 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4999 posts in 2519 days

#1 posted 11-07-2012 11:51 AM

This thread is of interest to me. I have a pole barn about that size and was wondering the same thing. In mine, the trusses are 8’ apart making it even harder to store anything. The barn isn’t my shop, but could be a lot more useful if I had overhead storage.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View junebug's profile


101 posts in 2430 days

#2 posted 11-07-2012 01:01 PM

really depends on your truss design. Did you have the barn put up, or was it an existing structure when you bought the property?

Most post frame trusses in my area are only designed to hold 5 or 10 pounds per square foot…. enough for drywall

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2501 days

#3 posted 11-07-2012 01:15 PM

shelly_b, You wonder if you could use the truss as attic storage but I think that you are correct to question this. Trusses are engineered which is a good thing, but, they are engineered to minimize cost weight etc with a calculated safety factor. 30’ is a long clear span and overloading could cause failure so I would propose the question to a truss manufacturer. Likely you will need some columns to lend additional support.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2997 days

#4 posted 11-07-2012 01:27 PM

Can a truss be built that will span 30ft and carry additional attic load? YES

Would any builder do this if not specifically required to do so? NO

Adding sister members to the lower chord might help or it might hurt. Has to be engineered to know.

The only “non-engineered” way to add capacity for sure without risking collapse is to add posts at the points of additional loading.

View EEngineer's profile


1103 posts in 3639 days

#5 posted 11-07-2012 02:19 PM

Oddly enough, I have been pondering the same thing. I wired and redid my garage shop this summer. I had already used the roof trusses for a lot of storage for long lumber, etc and had noticed some sag. In general, the research I did shows:

1. No, just sistering the trusses will not add much additional strength.
2. In my case, the trusses were 8 ft apart, also. I will have to add additional trusses to bring that down to 2 ft apart to support much load. I am also going to add extra bracing to the simple 2X6 cross-members that my garage was built with. All that they do is keep roof loading from pushing the sides of the garage out. With the span I have (18ft 2X6) load capacity is not even sufficient to support drywall ceiling.
3. When it is all said and done, I won’t get nearly the extra storage space or capacity I thought I would. We are not talking engine blocks here, just simple 1 to 2 layers of board and plywood storage.
4. There are lots of resources on the Web for these things. Do your research and run the math or you might end up with the entire thing on your head!

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View Handtooler's profile


1578 posts in 2158 days

#6 posted 11-07-2012 06:46 PM

I’m certainly not a structural engineer, but have observer some beam barn and dock constructing of recent months. If they were constructed of LVL,(Laminated Veneer Lumber), across the span they can withstand a considerable load. If not maybe some additional LVL can be scabbed to, some not all , of the spaning members of the building and give you the necessary load capacity. My neighbor just had a two boat dock built and he uses just two LVL members to support his lift systems lifting boats of 5500 and 3200 lbs while using 6 additional 2X 8 trusses I think 8 ft apart. Search LVL and there are several engineering sources to provide info of strength of spans. Weyhouser being one. Do any of you, LJ’s have further experience in this matter. I’m also interested.

-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2098 days

#7 posted 11-08-2012 10:52 PM

Pictures of your existing trusses would help identify what kind of load they were engineered to hold.

-- Who is John Galt?

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2143 days

#8 posted 11-09-2012 01:55 PM

I will take a picture when I get home. I beleive they are 4ft apart, and are constructed of 2×4s. Adding more trusses with LVL sounds like a great idea. We built it last spring…so I will keep researching(and looking for an engineer) and if there are any more ideas let me know!

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3111 days

#9 posted 11-09-2012 02:44 PM

You did not mention the clearance to the bottom of the beams. To eliminate the center post in one garage, we
put a lam beam down the center supported on each end by posts. If you have plenty of head room, and money
you could put a small lam beam under each truss supported on each side by posts, but with your trusses at 4’
you might have to add a support beam every 2’ to give plenty of support to a floor, or to keep wood stored up
there from bowing between trusses.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2143 days

#10 posted 11-10-2012 10:21 PM

Here are some pics of the roof. I beleive they are 4 ft apart…
A few big strong laminated beams sound like a good idea…I don’t know that we would have to add a support on the ends, I think just to the roof, though I am no engineer lol

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2143 days

#11 posted 11-10-2012 10:22 PM

And don’t mind the mess….I am working on the orginization lol.

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2869 days

#12 posted 11-11-2012 04:27 AM

Shelly, Pole barn trusses are usually engineered to meet the specified snow load for your area and no more. If the roof is insulated or a ceiling installed, the trusses are built stronger to handle the extra weight. Putting an additional and asymmetrical load to a roof system having 2”x4” bottom cords on 4’ centers with a 30’ span and a 3-4 pitch in Western NY would be a bad idea. Might be different in your area. Talk to the builder or the folks that sold/made the trusses. -Jack

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850 posts in 2143 days

#13 posted 11-13-2012 01:25 PM

Ok, thanks:) I didn’t think they looked very strong…

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2098 days

#14 posted 11-13-2012 06:43 PM

I don’t see an easy way to modify the trusses to hold any real load in the way you want to use them.

I do see adding lvl’s across at each post to create a joist system for storage. Would even be able to deck portions of it. You have full beams, it appears, on to of the posts that the trusses are set on, you could set the lvls in hangers, knotch for the roof, and end up storing alot. A knotch, and an angle cut would keep you from reducing the height of the shop that much and land your joist ties even with the truss ties for easy decking.

If you are interested I can do a hand drawing, and give an idea how tall and wide the lvls would need to be.

I have laid engineer designed “hanging floor trusses” in a similar type of space, but I think lvls would be cheaper.

-- Who is John Galt?

View shelly_b's profile


850 posts in 2143 days

#15 posted 11-14-2012 01:43 PM

joeyinsouthaustin-a drawing would be great, thank you! i agree, i think this is the only way to have overhead storage without damaging the roof. thank you:)

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