Wood Shake Roofs: Traditional and Alternative Styles
The wood shake roof is one of the oldest styles of the roof still in use today. Traditionally made by splitting wood logs, these materials offer a deeply natural and rustic look. Their hand-made construction gives them a deliberately non-uniform color and texture that is both durable and charming.
In recent years, the popularity of wood shake has declined. Synthetic materials that can adequately mimic the aesthetic of wood shake without the potential drawbacks are proving to be a more practical choice for many homeowners.
Nonetheless, the aesthetic appeal of true wood shake and its relative affordability make it a viable option for roofing projects in many areas.*
*You will want to check with a local roofer who is familiar with your region’s building codes. Some areas, especially in the mountains, may have restrictions regarding wooden roofs.
What Is Wood Shake?
Wood shake differs from wood shingles in that it is hand split against the wood grain, resulting in its signature look. Wood shingles, by contrast, are manufactured to be uniform in size, shape, and color. They are also a beautiful option but lack the whimsical, handmade aesthetic of wood shake.
Cedar tends to be the most popular wood used in wood shake coverings in the United States. It is a wood that is both durable and flexible, and relatively cost-effective since it is native to the US. It also has a pleasant scent and, with proper maintenance, can have a lifetime greater than standard asphalt shingles (30 years or more).
Other woods that may be used include teak and wallaba. Teak is a highly durable wood sourced from Southeast Asia and offers superior longevity and resistance to rot and mildew. It is the most expensive type of wood shake, but can last up to 80 years. Wallaba is another exotic wood derived from trees in South America. It is also more expensive than cedar, but can last up to 50 years and has enhanced resistance to humidity and pests.
What Are the Benefits of a Wood Shake Roof?
In addition to aesthetic appeal and durability, wood shake roofs are also an environmentally-friendly option. Unlike traditional asphalt shingles, which are unable to be recycled in many states (including Colorado), wood shake materials are completely biodegradable.
What Are the Drawbacks of Wood Shake Roofs?
Wood shake is, admittedly, difficult to maintain. Without routine inspection and treatment, it can be prone to rot, insect damage, mold/mildew, cracking and warping. Since wood is also inherently combustible, wood shake also needs to be regularly treated for fire resistance.
What Are Some Alternatives to Wood Shake Roofs?
You may be surprised to learn that a great alternative to traditional wood shake is metal roofing. When many of us picture a metal roof, we may imagine some highly industrial-looking corporate covering, glinting in the sun like aluminum foil. But metal roofing has become extremely sophisticated in recent years, with many manufacturers offering lines of designer tiles that perfectly mimic the look of wood shake, wood shingle, and even Old World clay.
Other Benefits of Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is also surprisingly light and affordable. It is not subject to rot or infestation and is non-combustible. It is an increasingly popular choice among homeowners looking to create the rustic, natural appearance of hand-split wood without the required maintenance or potential fire hazard.
In addition, metal roofing materials are fully recyclable and are often made from recycled materials themselves.
How Long Does Metal Roofing Last?
Metal roofs are designed to last between 50-70 years. By comparison, asphalt shingles typically need to be replaced every 15-20 years. The longevity of a metal roof tends to mitigate any increased upfront costs for homeowners since the headache and expense of having to replace the entire roof will not be for a long while.
J&K Roofing Is Here to Help
J&K Roofing services the Denver Metro, Front Range, Colorado Springs, and Northern Colorado regions. If you are in one of these areas and looking to install a traditional wood shake roof or want to look at some alternatives, give our office a call. We work with the highest quality vendors and are certified in all materials we use. Our team can knowledgeably assist you in choosing the best material for your home or corporate project.