Wood has been used as a construction material for thousands of years; even today, many houses in Canada and the US still rely on a strong cedar shake roof for protection against the elements. It is a popular roofing material for homeowners who wish to give their houses a natural, rustic look.
There are two types of wood roofing—shingles and shakes. Neither boasts the practicality of a modern roofing material like asphalt shingles, but it’s difficult to deny traditional wood’s aesthetic appeal. In fact, many other roofing products try to simulate look of wood shingles and shakes. Made from cedar, spruce, or treated pine, wood roofing is especially appropriate for older homes and those based upon historical styles.
Wood shingles are machine-cut and tapered for a trim, crisp appearance. By contrast, wood shakes look more rustic, as they are hand-split on one side. Each has its own specific installation requirements, but generally speaking, wood roofing is more difficult to install than some other common roof types. Though susceptible to discoloration, wood products last about as long as asphalt (up to 30 years), plus they’re biodegradable and derived from a renewable resource.
Shakes and shingles are usually made from redwood, pine, or cedar. Among them, Alaskan Yellow Cedar is reputed to be one of the best roofing materials around, offering decent durability, flexibility, and resistance against the cold. Despite the name, this type of cedar is also found in British Columbia, Washington, and California. The rarity of the material means that only a few reputable companies and online retailers like WoodRoof.com can offer them and install them for interested customers.
Thankfully, other types of wood roofs are also recommended and ordinary homeowners can carry out basic maintenance on their shingles and shakes. By applying the proper treatments and preservatives, a cedar shake roof can be keep free of insects, moisture, and discoloration, thereby extending its lifespan.
On the downside, wood requires regular maintenance if you wish to preserve its beauty and form for a long period of time. Regular checkups are necessary to make sure that small problems don't turn into huge issues that would lead you to replace everything. Even though you can perform the basic maintenance steps, make sure to contact a reliable roofer from time to time to give you correct appraisals on damage that you may not be able to see.
(From The Basics: Wood Shingles and Shakes, Bobvila, undated)