What Is a Wood Shake Roof?

A Wood Shake Roof.

What is the difference between wood shingles and wood shakes?

If you are planning to use wood for a roofing material, you will need to decide between wood shingles and wood shakes. Both are, of course, made from wood, but wood shake roofs are hand cut from lumber rather than machine cut from wood blocks like wood shingles. Wood shakes are also thicker than wood shingles and usually have an uneven surface. Shakes are also installed differently than shingles. They require overlapping layers of roofing felt between each layer of shakes. On the other hand, wood shingles are installed on wood strips fitted over a layer of roofing felt, which helps the shingles dry quickly after it rains. Both types of roofs are very durable.

The most popular type of wood shake roof in the U.S. is cedar shake. If you are interested in installing cedar shakes, give the roofing professionals at Alliance Roofing a call at 860-633-7243.

Wood shake roof pros and cons

If you are thinking about installing a wood shake roof, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons before making the decision. 

Wood shake roof pros:

  • Very attractive: One of the big draws of wood shake roofs is their natural beauty. 
  • Durable: These type of roofs are highly durable. They last about 10 years longer than other roofing materials, in particular asphalt shingles, so you’ll have your wood shake roof about 30 to 40 years or more before it will need to be replaced.
  • Weather resistant: Wood shake roofs hold up really well in severe weather. They can endure hurricane-force winds, as well as heavy rains and snow, and hail storms.
  • Energy efficient: You get natural insulation with this type of roof. They are about twice as energy efficient as an asphalt shingle roof.

Wood shake roof cons:

  • Cost: Initial installation costs can be high, especially in comparison to asphalt shingle roofs.
  • High maintenance: Wood shake roofs generally require a little more maintenance than other roofs, especially when it comes to preventing moss, mold and mildew growth. 

Wood shake vs asphalt shingles

When choosing wood shake roof installation over asphalt shingles, most people choose wood shake roofs for their aesthetic appeal, especially if they are going for a natural design. While asphalt shingles tend to have a uniform shape, they come in a variety colors that fit with almost any design style. Probably one of the biggest differences between wood shake and asphalt shingles is the initial cost of installation. For an average-size home, a wood shake roof would cost somewhere in the range of $18,000 to $22,000, whereas an asphalt shingle roof will cost around $5,000 to $8,000.

Although initial installation costs are high, wood shake roof tend to last longer than asphalt roofs. What is the life expectancy of a wood shake roof? With regular maintenance, you can expect a wood shake roof to last 30 to 40 years or more, as compared to the 20 or so years that you will get out of an asphalt shingle roof. Though both can endure severe weather pretty well, wood shake roofs tend to hold up better when it comes to extremely high winds and hail.

Energy efficiency is also a major concern when installing a new roof. Wood shake roofs are known to be highly energy efficient. Another way to improve energy efficiency is through new window installation.

How to maintain wood shake roof

For a wood shake roof to last its lifetime, it requires regular maintenance and care. Regular maintenance should include the following:

  • Trimming overhanging branches: Trimming branches keeps leaves and branches off the roof, and prevents damage from branches.
  • Cleaning debris: Clearing the roof and gutters of debris helps protect the roof. Cleaning gutters especially helps prevent water damage and leaks.
  • Maintaining ventilation: Make sure the attic and roof assembly are ventilated year round.
  • Installing zinc and copper strips along the ridge and across the middle long slopes: These srips protect the roof from moss, mold and mildew growth.
  • Regular cleaning: Although power washing is not recommended, washing the roof with a garden hose or pump sprayer will help clear it of dirt and debris. Lichens and mosses can be scraped and scrubbed away with a solution of 1 quart of bleach, 1ounce of detergent and 3 quarts of warm water.

Are cedar shake roofs a fire hazard?

Cedar shake roofs can pose a fire hazard in arid climates and in areas prone to wildfires. In some areas of the country ordinances ban wood shake roof installation because of the associated fire hazards. While the potential for fire is there, modern cedar shake roofs can be treated with fire retardants that are highly fire resistant. 

How do I know if my cedar shake roof is bad?

Because of the way cedar shake wood ages, it can be hard to tell if your roof is bad enough that it needs to be replaced. As with other types of roofing systems, wood shake roofs will exhibit common problems like loose or missing shakes, warping and cracking, and moss and lichen growth that may indicate it’s time for the roof to be replaced. This kind of damage often causes leaks. But, even with this type of damage, you should have a professional roofer like those at Alliance Roofing to check out the roof. In some cases the damage can be repaired without your needing to replace the whole roof.

Wood Shake On a Sloped Roof

What wood is used for shingles?

Cedar is the most common and most popular wood for shingles and shakes. Cedar shakes and shingles are generally made from western red cedar. Other woods that are popular are redwood, pine and cypress. Some manufacturers also use woods like teak.

Are you considering a wood shake roof installation in Glastonbury and Hartford, CT? The professionals at Alliance Roofing can give you all the information you need and install the roof as well. Call us at 860-633-7243 to learn more or to schedule services.