Wood shingles and shakes have been used as roofing materials for centuries, prized for their natural beauty and durability. If you’re considering a wood roof, there are some key factors to weigh regarding the different types of wood, sizes, shapes, and installation. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about wood shingles and shakes to make an informed decision.
Types of Wood for Shingles and Shakes
The type of wood you choose impacts the look, durability, fire resistance, and cost of your roof. Here are the most common woods used for shingles and shakes:
- Red Cedar: Red cedar shingles and shakes have a distinctive reddish-brown color. Cedar is naturally resistant to water, rot, and insects due to its natural oils. It’s the most expensive wood option but also the longest-lasting. Expect 30-40 years from high-quality cedar.
- White Cedar: More affordable than red cedar, white cedar is pale brown or reddish-white when installed. It’s durable but not as rot-resistant as red cedar. Lifespan is 20-30 years.
- Redwood: Red-toned like red cedar, redwood is moderately rot-resistant. It may need chemical treatments to increase longevity. Expect 15-30 year lifespan.
- Cypress: Light brown when installed, cypress is a rot-resistant wood from Southern swamps. Comparable lifespan to redwood of 15-30 years.
- Pine: The most affordable option, pine lacks natural rot resistance so it requires chemical treatment. Lifespan is 10-20 years for treated pine shingles.
No matter which wood you choose, always look for the highest grade with the fewest knots and defects for enhanced longevity. Edge-grained wood is also preferred over flat-grained for stability.
Sizes and Shapes of Wood Shingles vs. Shakes
Wood shingles are sawn on both sides to create a smooth, uniform appearance. Shakes have one natural, split surface and one sawn surface for a more rustic look. In terms of size:
– Shingles are 3/8 to 1/2 inches thick, 16 to 24 inches long and come in standard widths of 6 or 8 inches.
– Shakes are thicker – 1/2 to 1 1/4 inches thick and up to 18 inches long. Widths are random.
Shingles have a tailored appearance, while shakes have an uneven, textured look. Shingles are recommended for roof slopes of 3:12 or greater, while shakes can be used on slopes 4:12 or greater.
For decorative accents, fancy-cut shingles are available in special shapes like hexagons, diamonds and more. Hip and ridge caps in pre-cut shingle or shake bundles can save installation time.
Installation and Maintenance
Proper installation is key to wood shingle/shake performance. Refer to the Cedar Bureau’s manuals for detailed instructions. Use corrosion-resistant stainless steel nails and leave a 1/4-1/2 inch gap between shingles or shakes. Install a breathable underlayment like cedar breather paper.
Annual inspections are advised to spot any damaged shingles that need replacement. Built-up debris should be cleared from the roof and gutters cleaned twice per year. Every 2-3 years, deep clean the roof with a power washer and mild detergent (no pressure above 800 psi). Refinish the roof every 5-7 years with penetrating wood preservatives and re-coat with UV inhibitors as needed. With proper care, a wood shingle or shake roof can last 30-50 years.
On average, wood shingles cost $600-800 per square (100 square feet), while shakes can range from $700-1200 per square installed. Cedar is the most expensive, followed by redwood and pine as the most affordable. The grade, size, and installation difficulty also impact the overall cost. The pricing overlaps with asphalt shingles ($100-600 per square), making wood a competitively priced option.
Key Benefits of Wood Shingles and Shakes
If the higher upfront cost fits your budget, a wood shingle or shake roof offers these rewards:
- Natural Curb Appeal: Wood roofing has an inherently beautiful, rustic look that enhances home value. It adds texture and warmth that alternatives like asphalt lack.
- Fire Resistance: Wood shingles/shakes have a Class B or C fire rating, on par with common asphalt shingles. Proper installation and maintenance are key.
- Eco-Friendly Choice: Wood is biodegradable and renewable. Modern pressure-treated woods use non-toxic chemicals.
- Noise Reduction: Wood absorbs sound better than most roofing materials. The extra mass dampens noise from rain, wildlife, appliances, etc.
- Insulating Ability: Wood has moderately good insulating properties compared to metal or asphalt roofs. Less heat transmission means energy savings.
- Longevity: Properly maintained wood roofs can last 30 years or longer, making them a smart long-term investment for homeowners.
Before investing in wood shingle or shake roofing, consult with qualified roofing contractors on the best options for your specific home and climate. But if you seek natural beauty plus durability, wood is a roofing material that endures the tests of time and nature.