Answers To Your Questions About Wooden Shake Roofs

If you've lived in a home with asphalt shingles all of your life, then moving into a home with wooden shakes, or having a wooden roof installed on your home, may raise some questions in your mind. Wooden shakes are not as common as asphalt shingles in North America, and they do require a little bit different maintenance and care than asphalt. Thus, it's important to explore these answers before you take the plunge and get a wooden roof.

How long do wooden shakes last?

This depends on the climate in your area. The typical lifespan of wooden shakes is approximately 20 years, but yours may not last this long if you live in an area that receives a lot of direct sunlight or a lot of precipitation. Cedar is the most common wood used for roofing because of its long life expectancy. Asphalt shingles typically last 20 – 30 years, so the lifespan of the two roofing types is comparable.

What maintenance is required for wooden shake roofs?

A wooden roof does not require any maintenance for the first 10 years that it's on your home.  After your roof has been on for 10 years, you should have it inspected by an experienced roofing contractor every 2 years. He or she can look for shakes that are beginning to split or curl, and replace them with new ones before you end up with leaks or a major problem. When the cost of replacing the damaged shingles each year begins to rise as more and more shingles wear out, you can make the decision to replace the entire roof rather than keep making repairs. If your roof begins growing any moss or mold, you'll need to have it sprayed with chemical preparations that fight these organisms.

Are wooden shakes a fire hazard?

New and well-maintained wooden shakes are not particularly dangerous. However, when the roof ages and dries out, it does become more prone to fire. No, the roof will not spontaneously combust, but it will burn more easily than as asphalt roof if there is a fire in the home. Some insurance companies will not offer coverage for homes with wooden roofing, and some will charge higher rates than if you were to have an asphalt roof. This is something to consider before choosing a wooden roof over an asphalt or metal one.

The decision to have a wooden shake roof installed is a big one. While wooden shakes are attractive and do coordinate well with some home designs, they do require some maintenance. Talk to your roofing contractor to get a second opinion as to whether wooden shakes are the right choice for your home and lifestyle.


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