There are hundreds of roofing materials out there to choose from. Among those materials is one of the oldest and most trusted forms of roofing: wood. For centuries, humans have used wood as part of their homes, and even today, from cabins in the mountains to upscale homesteads in the suburbs, wood plays a role in architecture. But should you consider wooden shingles and shakes for your roof? How will it hold up?
If you have been thinking about a wood roof, there are a few things you need to know before you make your decision, such as the different types of wood materials and how long they last. Here is everything you need to know about wood roofing.
Wood Shingles vs. Shakes
There are two different styles of wood roofing materials: shakes and shingles. Shakes are the older form of wood roofing. Essentially, wooden shakes are also shingles, but they are cut from blocks of cedar or redwood and coming in various sizes and shapes. Wood shakes have a more rustic aesthetic than other shingle types. Shakes are thicker than wood shingles and installed by overlapping one another, creating a waterproof barrier.
During the age of Industrialization, sawmills made it possible to cut wooden shakes more uniformly, giving rise to the thin yet sturdy wooden shingle. Therein lies the main distinction between the two: shakes are chopped by hand; shingles are made by sawing.
Yet, no matter which one you choose, you get a roof that can last for up to 50 years with proper maintenance.
Pros and Cons of Wood Roofing
Let’s have a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of wood shingles and shakes:
- Gorgeous curb appeal
- Superior performance against high winds and hail damage
- Great insulation – wood is a poor conductor, so your house will be cooler during the hotter months and warmer in fall and winter
- Resistant to swelling and shrinking
- Treated with a fire retardant
- Sustainable choice
- Susceptible to rot, mold, and termite damage if not routinely maintained
- Not fireproof (may be unavailable in areas prone to wildfire)
- Requires commitment and time
Purchasing Wood Roofing
Wood shakes and shingles are sold from retailers by a bundle that covers around a third of a roofing square. A single roofing square is equal to 100 square feet. The average cost of a single bundle is around $130, depending on your location. That means every square foot of roof costs around $4.00, excluding installation and labor. Factor in installation fees, and it costs around $6.00-$6.50 per square foot.
While installing a wood roof costs a little more than asphalt shingles, consider that an average wood roof will easily last 30-50 years. Wood shakes and shingles also have a high impact rating and wind resistance. Add in the natural beauty, and it is a worthwhile investment.
Maintaining Your Wood Roof
As with any roof, maintenance plays a role in increasing the lifespan and preventing weathering and rot from taking hold. Wood shingles and shakes need a little more attention than asphalt shingles, but keeping up with routine maintenance ensures your roof lasts for many, many years.
Here are some tips to help you maintain your wood shakes and shingles:
The best way to prevent moss, fungus, and mold from growing on your wood roof is to apply chemical solutions. These are first applied during installation and should be reapplied every few years, depending where you live and exposure to moisture.
The other liquid solution for your roof is pigment. Any pigment that can help absorb UV rays will help reduce damage caused by the sun.
Lastly, oils. Cedar, the most common wood used for roofing, has natural oils that keep it safe from mold and moisture and pestilence. However, that oil will need replenishing. Avoid petroleum-based oils, since that will make the wood flammable.
The easiest way to keep a wood roof looking decent is to clean it regularly. Use a ladder to get to the valleys of your roof, where pine needles, leaves, twigs, and other debris will accumulate throughout the year. Any time there is debris on your roof, it increases the chance of pooled water, which then causes moisture to soak into the wood, where fungus and mold can grow. Manufacturers recommend power-washing your roof at least once per year. Afterwards, apply a preservative (as mentioned above).
Don’t forget to trim back tree branches and keep ivy and other climbing plants away from your roof.
In the end, choosing the best roof material for your home comes down to two factors: how much you are willing to spend and the amount of time you have to do routine maintenance. Wood roofing is a beautiful alternative to the more common asphalt shingle and has a lifespan that is just as long, if not longer. If you want your home to have a rustic aesthetic and superior protection from wind and hail, then a sustainable wood roof may be just what you are looking for.
Unsure if a wood roof is right for you? Have questions that weren’t answered in this article? Get in touch with us by filling out the contact form or giving us a call. Our professional team has been assisting homeowners like you for many years. We’re always happy to answer your questions, provide or quote, or schedule an inspection.