What is the Difference Between Wood Roof Shingles and Shake?
The terms wood shingles and shake are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Wood roof shingles are sawn on both faces, are thinner, and uniform in thickness and tapering. Shake is thicker and split either by hand or by machine, resulting in a rough, uneven face.
Durability of a Wood Roof
Wood roof shingles or shake are usually longer lasting than asphalt, around 30 years on average. However, their lifespan is highly variable depending on your local climate, the type of wood used and the thickness of the cut. Generally, the thicker the wood roof shingle, the longer lasting. White Cyprus is probably the longest lasting, with cedar following closely behind. Spruce and pine have been used less successfully, however some varieties are available with added chemicals as a preservative.
Due to the fire risk associated with wood roofs, they have fallen out of favor. However, many wood roof shingles or shake are now treated with fire retardant, making them an attractive option again. Wood roofs are also suitable for high wind areas and for roofs with a steep pitch.
Wood roofs lend a special quality to a home. | @ iStockphoto.com / dbvirago
Grades of Wood Roof Shingles
Wood roof shingles come in a variety of grades, largely based on where the wood is cut from.
Blue Label Wood Rood Shingles
Blue Label or Premium Grade refers to wood roof shingles or shake cut from heartwood, or the center of a tree. This is the strongest part of a tree. It must be 100% clear, meaning no knots or imperfections, and have 100% edge grain, meaning it is cut across the grain, radiating out from the center of the tree.
Red Label Wood Roof Shingles
Red Label refers to wood roof shingles or shake that contain some sapwood (found on the outer parts of a tree), and some flat grain (shingles cut with the grain, parallel to the center of the tree.) Red Label is inferior to Blue Label, but can be used in conjunction with the premium product.
Black Label Wood Roof Shingles
Black Label refers to utility grade wood roof shingles or shake, and should not be used on residential homes. It has an unlimited amount of sapwood and flat grain allowance.
When it comes to wood roof shingles or shake, buy for quality, not for economy. Replacing your roof in a few short years will be far costlier than having a quality wood roof installed in the first place.