Cedar Shingles (wood shakes)
Wooden shingles are an excellent roofing material generally made from Western Red Cedar. In North America shakes are typically made from Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata), while in Scandinavia and Central Europe they are more commonly made from pine (Pinus sylvestris). Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character. Because of variations like color, width, thickness, or cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever be the same.
Wood offers some energy benefits, too: it helps to insulate the attic, and it allows the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles lay.
A wood shake roof, however, demands proper maintenance and repair, or it will not last as long as other products. Mold, rot, and insects can be a problem. Cedar is resistant to rot and decay. The lifecycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can’t be recycled. They require a lot of attention and care as their appearance has to be maintained properly and that means regular cleaning.
Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes. Many use wipe or spray-on fire retardants which offer less protection and are only effective for a few years. There are pressure-treated shakes, however, that are impregnated with fire retardant and meet national fire safety standards. Made by companies like Chemco, this pressure treating extends the life of wood shingles and provides better fire safety performance. More and more people are avoiding cedar shingles because of the fire risk that they possibly create. In spite of this factor, cedar shingles have a royal look that the other materials can’t seemingly match up to.
Installing wood shakes is more complicated than roofing with composite shingles, and the quality of finished roof depends on the experience of the contractor as well as the caliber of the shakes you use. The best shakes come from the heartwood of large old cedar trees. Care should be taken when selecting shakes as the quality varies significantly from different shake mills. It comes in two types depending on the manufacturer. There is a hand split, and tapered shingle called a shake, and a shingle that is sawn. They come in three categories – one, two and three. A number one is the best for roofing.
There are various types of shakes, the main differentiating feature between shakes and other forms of shingles is that shakes are split while most shingles are sawn on all sides. They often come in different sizes. Shakes can be made in 24-inch lengths – the most common, 18-inch barn shake, or even 48-inch shakes, which are typically used for siding. Likewise, wooden shingles are manufactured in differing lengths, 15-inch, 18-inch – common, and 24″ which are known as heavy. Both shakes and wood shingles are typically cut from salvage logs, dead trees which were left from previous logging operations, or selective logging of dead trees; this depends on area licensing.
Below is a list of advantages and disadvantages of Cedar Shingles:
* natural look weathering to a soft grey
* offers some insulation value
* blends in with the environment
* easy to repair or replace
* long lasting if maintained (30–50 years)
* usually requires professional installation
* high maintenance
* tends to rot, split, mold, and mildew
* poor fire rating unless pressure treated