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Wood Shake Roofing

A Properly Maintained Wood Roof Should Last 25-50 Years or More

Wood is a classic roofing choice that's as durable as it is elegant. With regular upkeep, a wood shake roof can last as long as its asphalt counterpart. And in terms of looks, asphalt doesn't come close to the natural beauty of wood.

Why Wood Shakes?

Wood shakes are typically made from western red cedar, which is highly resistant to water damage, rot, and mold. Other woods are available for shakes - including Alaskan yellow cedar and eastern white cedar - but western red cedar is generally the wood of choice.

While many people use the terms "shakes" and "shingles" interchangeably, the two are in fact different. Wood shakes are made from logs that have been split, while shingles are sawn. When splitting wood for shakes, great care is taken to eliminate imperfections in the grain and each piece is carefully checked for knots or burls which can limit the durability of the wood. Shakes are also thicker and rougher than shingles.

One thing to keep in mind with wood shakes is that they require regular maintenance for long-term durability, especially if your roof is in the shade during part of the day. Green and black algae develop on wet, shaded areas after several years and can cause problems if left untreated. Although red cedar resists algae growth very well, its natural defense wears out over time. Hiring a roof cleaning company every year or two is a simple and inexpensive way to rid a wood roof of mold and algae and maximize its lifespan.

Wood Shakes vs. the Competition

Wood shakes have a number of advantages over other roof coverings, including the following:
  • Cost: Wood shakes are quite economical when compared to other roofing options. Although they may not last as long as slate or ceramic tile roofs, it's possible to install two wood shake roofs for the same price as one of these high-end roofing options.
  • Sustainability: Asphalt shingles are made from petroleum, a nonrenewable source. Environmentally conscious logging companies plant two trees for every tree that they harvest, making wood shakes, in most cases, a sustainable roofing choice. To be absolutely certain that the wood used for your roof is eco-friendly, choose wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
  • Aesthetics: Wood shakes provide homes with a rustic charm that increases over time as the wood weathers to a grayish tone.

Wood Shake Roofing Costs

Wood shake prices vary according to the area of the country you live in; locations near active logging sites tend to have lower costs. The following prices assume a new installation on an average-sized 1,500 square foot roof.
  • Wood shakes cost $6 to $9 per square foot installed (or $9,000 to $13,500 for a 1,500 sq. ft. roof).
  • Removal and disposal of existing roofing costs roughly $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the type of roofing installed and the number of layers (some older roofs may have 2 or 3 layers of shingles).

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