Wood shakes are an alternative to traditional, asphalt shingles. Wood roofing was prevalent in early America because there was plenty of timber and because wood shingles and shakes could be produced and shaped relatively easily with common hand tools. These days, of course, asphalt shingles are the most common type of residential roofing product. But shakes are available and can provide a distinctive, beautiful, rustic option for your roof. Plus, they’re eco-friendly, as they are biodegradable and made from wood – a renewable resource.
A home getting a new wood shake roof.
A wood shake roof is normally made of red cedar, spruce or pine and treated with a fire-retardant. It can provide added insulation because of its thickness, and can last 30 years. Wood shake roofs can give your home or business a unique look, but they do come with some drawbacks.
Shake roofs are expensive because the installation process is much more labor intensive than for asphalt shingles. A shake roof installation can cost up to $900 per square – as much as six times the cost of an asphalt roof. Also, it may be more difficult to obtain fire insurance coverage with wood shakes, although most of these products are manufactured and treated to meet minimum fire code requirements. With respect to maintenance, all roofs should be cleared of debris regularly, but wood shakes require additional attention because accumulated debris restricts water from flowing off the roof. This can accelerate deterioration of the shake, and the retained moisture promotes the growth of fungi that can destroy the wood.
If you want a “shake look” for your home but don’t want the downside of actual wood, there are many vinyl and metal roofing products that imitate wood shakes. Regardless of which option you pick, make sure that the contractor you choose for the job has expertise in that specific application.