Wood has been used as a roofing material for centuries, especially where other traditional materials such as slate were in short supply. The two most common forms of wood roofing are shakes and shingles. Shakes are typically thicker than shingles and are prepared by splitting off sections of material. This results in a rougher texture and requires building paper to limit the risk of water intrusion. Shingles on the other hand, are sawn from wood blocks and tend to be thinner and more uniform. Both materials provide long, reliable lifespans when properly installed and maintained.
While all materials eventually degrade, effects can be partially offset through periodic maintenance. It is helpful to understand what can damage a shake or shingle roof though. The number one reason for deterioration is weathering, which is a combination of damage from sunlight, rain, and wind. Sunlight causes the wood’s surface to become weaker while rain and wind can wear away the wood on the surface. Additionally, repeated wetting and drying can also lead to physical changes in the shake or shingle due to swelling and shrinking.
Other common factors that can degrade wood is fungi, mosses, and lichens. Fungal spores tend to decay wood from the inside while primitive plants grow on top of the roof, accumulating soil and other debris. The overall durability of your wood roof is closely related to the temperature and amount of rainfall to which the wood is exposed. In areas that have higher amounts of rain and warmer temperatures, you can expect a shorter life span than that of a cooler climate with less humidity.
Maintenance is essential for the performance of wood roofing systems and involves cleaning off debris, removing vegetation that hangs over the home, cleaning gutters, and surface cleaning. Many professional roof maintenance companies such as Charles Martin & Son Roofing, provide maintenance plans targeted towards your specific needs. If you need your wood shake or shingle roof maintained, repaired, or replaced, contact us for a free estimate.