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The Ultimate Guide to Shake-Style Roofing

Published on Thursday October 19, 2017

Shake-Style roofing.

Roofing has changed a lot since the wooden shake shingles of the old days. Today’s homeowners looking to complement their cottage or rustic-style homes should look at the plethora of modern shake roof options available to them.

What Is Shake-Style Roofing?

What are shake shingles? Back in colonial America when shake-style roofing was first popular, wood materials were abundant, making it the most practical material to use for residential and commercial buildings alike. The old version of shake-style roofing was made by splitting a log, and the term “shake-style” simply meant “wooden shingles” for a long time. 

Today, shake roofing shingles are asphalt and fiberglass-constructed shingles designed to deliver the charm and character of hand-split wood shakes at a more affordable price point. 

What are Wooden Shakes?

Wood Shakes

Made from hand-split wooden logs (typically California redwood or western red cedar), a shake is a wooden shingle individually applied to create a roof. Shake roofing was particularly popular in the United States during the Colonial period, thanks to the new nation’s abundance of lumber. The National Park Service explains:

“Because trees were plentiful from the earliest settlement days, the use of wood for all aspects of construction is not surprising. Wooden shingles were lightweight, made with simple tools, and easily installed. Wooden shingle roofs were prevalent in the Colonies, while in Europe at the same time, thatch, slate and tile were the prevalent roofing materials.”

Shake-Style vs. Wooden Shakes

Modern shake roofing is the ultimate in style and protection. It replicates the look of wood shakes, while offering the high fire and wind resistance of asphalt shingles. They’re thicker than regular asphalt shingles and are more resistant to wind, snow and ice, which is why they’re growing in popularity. In fact, most new and replacement roofs that you see today are constructed with shake-style roofing shingles.

Wooden Shakes Pros and Cons

Wooden shakes are prized for their durability and aesthetic aging appeal—they transform from a bright, warm red and brown tones to a distinguished gray color over time. They’re also energy efficient, can be recycled into mulch and chips, and are durable.

The downsides with wooden roof shakes is that they are high maintenance. They tend to show wear-and-tear easily—exposure to the sun and rain, poor ventilation, mold, mildew, rot, and even fungus growth can all take a serious toll on wooden shakes.

Without proper and regular maintenance, they split, they curl and they can undermine the overall integrity of the entire roof system.

Then, of course, there’s always the risk of fire. “If you live near a wildfire zone, you pay a lot [in insurance] if your roof is (made of) cedar shakes compared to asphalt shingles that are flame-retardant, or a metal roof that doesn’t burn,” Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America told Bankrate.com.

“Some companies won’t even insure certain roof types, such as wood shakes, in high fire-risk areas.”

One other drawback: as one would expect from a material that is so labor intensive—wooden shakes are very expensive. They can cost three or six times the cost of an asphalt roof!

So, is there an affordable shake roof alternative that combines style and protection?

Shake-Style Pros and Cons

Shake-Style Roofing

Homeowners wishing to extend the life of the roofing system or provide lower energy costs, should definitely consider today’s modern alternative: shake-style roofing shingles. 

Unlike wood, shake-style roofing shingles are virtually maintenance free. They won’t rot or decay like their natural wooden shake counterparts.

Made of a woven fiberglass base mat, covered with a waterproof asphalt coating and topped with ceramic granules that shield the product from harmful UV rays, shake-style roofing shingles are energy-efficient, Class A fire resistant, and have longevity.

Lightweight and fade resistant, shake-style roofing can last longer, is backed by a long-term warranty, and comes with Energy Star certification. Some premium lines of shake-style roofing tiles are even algae-resistant for up to 10 years.

Some of the cons of shake-style roofing shingles include the fact that they are a non-recyclable material. They also don’t tend to be as energy efficient as some other roofing options, such as metal roofs.

Additionally, poorly installed asphalt shake-style roofing doesn’t hold up to high winds, hail, and other storms quite as well as some other roofing options.

Is it the Right Choice for Your Home?

For homeowners concerned about losing that Old World charm and attractiveness of a traditional wooden shake roof—there’s no need to worry.

Today’s shake-style roofing shingles feature intricate, detailed design work for a truly sculpted, multi-dimensional appearance that is nearly indistinguishable from wooden shakes. Some are so realistic that they have been approved for use in historic preservation.

Shake-style roofing shingles are available in a diversity of colors that complement any trim, stucco or siding and are designed to replicate the shade, texture and rustic design of cedar roof shakes.

The variety of colors and designs of shake-style roofing options allow shingles to be blended and layered to create a custom roof in a distinctive style, giving your house a lot more depth and upping the overall curb appeal.

Contact Long About Shake-Style Roofing

A well-constructed roof made of quality roofing materials is guaranteed by warranty to withstand 50 years of cold and snow, heat and sun, wind and rain — that is, when you get a roof replacement from Long Roofing.

If it’s time to replace your shake roof before the winter season sets in, contact Long Roofing online to request an estimate. The Long family has served the home improvement needs of families for over 7 decades.

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