Wood Shake Roof: Installation, Maintenance, Repair and Cost

Wood Shake Roof: Installation, Maintenance, Repair and Cost

What is Wood Shake Roof?

Wood shakes roof is a type of wood shingles roofing, being used in tiling and siding huts and houses for centuries now. They use slender and elongated wooden logs; split from one side and sawn from the other to give homes a rugged and natural aesthetic in the modern world though it is indeed true that a wood shake roof requires more maintenance than modern roofs because of the lack of waterproofing and weather-friendly features in it.

Aside from being an old school method of roofing, it increases the yearly roof repair cost as well. Most people that opt for this roofing method do so because of architectural reasons. They are also given preference in rural areas of any country as they are cheaper than new roofing prospects.

Wood shakes used in roofing are categorized in different grades as per their quality. We have briefly discussed these grades to help you decide which one of them is suitable for you. Note that these grades are for shingles made from Cedar that is the most preferred wood type for this purpose:

  • Extra Grade: This is the premium quality grade in which not even a single defect is tolerated. Knots, wane, holes, sapwood, and rot are not allowed to be part of this grade.
  • Clear Grade: Some defects like holes of 1 inch in diameter are visible in this grade. Also, the restricted appearance of knots, rot, and wane can be tolerated in this grade.
  • Secondary Walls Grade: The limitations on defects appearance loosens further in this grade. For instance, coarse knots can appear in diameter of 1 inch, and they shouldn’t be in more than 6 inches vicinity from the butt end of the shingle.
  • Clear Walls Grade: As the grade goes down, the restrictions on defects keep minimizing. Sapwood that was permitted to be around 1 inch in second grades plunged to having no limits in this grade.
  • Utility Grade: All defects are permitted in this grade if they do not hinder the basic functionality of the shingles.

Now, that we know what kind of shingles should one use to fashion shakes for roofing, the next step is to learn about basic shake types. These are categorized based on what method is used to make them:

  • Hand split Shakes
  • Taper sawn Shakes
  • Taper Split Shakes
  • Straight Split Shakes

The information we’ve shared so far on shakes’ quality and types should be enough to give you an idea of what suits your budget and preference. Now scroll down to know about the installation process of wood shake roofs.

Few Easy Wood Shake Roof Installation Methods

1. Spaced Sheathing:

The recommended size for shakes and shingles is one by 4 inches for spaced sheathing. Just place these boards side by side on rafters horizontally with enough surface exposed among them that guarantees quick-drying and improves performance later.

Note that taper sawn and split shakes are interlaid on rafters differently. They use ply application of maximum third level to ensure rain and snow doesn’t get inside your house through the roof. The ply application for taper sawn is three, and for split shake is two, and it requires felt interlay to stay together in harsh weather.

On the other hand, shingles don’t favor felt interlay with a three-ply application as it causes them to rot, which eventually minimizes their durability.

2. Solid-Deck Sheathing:

Such a roofing method is great for areas subjected to high winds and similar harsh weather. Plywood of ¾ inches is recommended to be laid first in the rafters then the sub-categorized methods of solid sheathing like rain screen or nailing strips is used to finish it off.

The width of the plywood is recommended as such to hold the nails firmly in their place to increase the service life of the shakes.

On the other hand, if the solid deck sheathing is being used in humid areas then the direct application is preferred by the experts but not without using preservatives.

Here, it is essential to know why plywood is the preferred choice of sheathing in this method:

  • It can hold nail longer and better
  • It can transmit water evenly throughout the sheathing
  • It dries quickly and without rotting

As stated earlier, the following are the three methods used in solid sheathing to put shakes in your roof favorably.

  • Rain Screen
  • Horizontal Nailing Strips
  • Direct Application

3. Fasteners:

It is similar to nailing strips, but this installation method uses anti-corrosive blunt-tipped nails to fasten shanks on the rafters. Know that those nails you think are best for asphalt shingles, can’t be used to nail wood shakes.

Furthermore, do not hit the nails too hard to drive them inside the shakes as well as avoid overdriving the nails as it causes the backside of the wood to fall off from the rest of the shake. Following are the few things you need to pay mind to while selecting shake fasteners:

  • They should be resistant to corrosion and erosion
  • They should be galvanized as per ASTM A 153/D
  • Another preferred material for these fasteners is stainless steel

4. Metal Strips:

If you want to make your installation durable and long-lasting, try using strips base made from either zinc or copper. These strips are effective against moss, algae, and mold that grow around ventilation outlets often.

By interlaying these strips, you can make sure no such growth ruins the aesthetics and functionality of your wood shake roof. These strips should be interlaid at a constant distance from one another and shouldn’t be too far apart from another to avoid inefficient protection.

The recommended distance among these strips is 2m that is 6 foot though some old installation guides might suggest 4m. But 4m turned out to be an ineffective distance to resist the growth of algae and mildews. You can use these strips around vents, ridge caps and chimneys to maximize the lifespan of your roofing.

Furthermore, make sure that the strips are galvanized and corrosion resistant, and if the stainless steel is included while interlaying them, then it’s better for your roof.

5. Finishing:

Finishing over any product maximizes its lifespan and durability exponentially. Apart from protecting a product from rusting, harsh weather and chipping, it also gives it a more refined look.

The finishing on your wood shake roof makes it last longer against weather inconsistencies and harsh environmental conditions. Some wood types are naturally durable. They don’t need the last finishing touch. But if you are using utility graded shakes, then you’ll need the best kind of finishing in the market possible.

Following are the few finishing types and their efficiency mentioned in detail:

  • Water Repellent-Preservatives:This is an umbrella term for everything that is used as a preservative against water and moisture. It can be applied at the end of the roofing process, but mostly it is done at the beginning by dipping all wooden shakes in them before sheathing them on the roof.There are various preservatives in the market, and each of them uses a different formula to ensure your shakes do not rot or rust easily. Organic solvents, UV stabilizers, and other kinds of additives are used in their formula to maximize their efficiency.It is advised that after dipping your shakes in WRPs, make sure that their surface is evenly coated with them by brushing the excess finish off.
  • Semitransparent Stains:Just as its name suggests, this finish doesn’t conceal the surface of the shakes entirely. It still lets the grain of the shakes show as there isn’t much pigment included in its formula. Furthermore, it is low on organic solvents and a few other additives that were part of several WRPs’ formula in excess.There are stains that are rich in preservatives used for wood as well as other materials. Most stains don’t penetrate the surface of the wood much and are more used for decorative purposes.But if these stains’ formulas include WRPs and other solvents in excess, then it can penetrate the surface of the shakes more conveniently. Increased penetration means more protection for your shakes as it prevents not only erosion but also the transmission of water.
  • Factory Finishing:One can always buy finished shakes from the market or a reliable contractor easily. You won’t have to spend extra strength in doing something that can be purchased from the market conveniently.Make sure that the finishing used on these shakes can penetrate the surface of the shakes far enough to provide a satisfactory level of protection.
  • On-Site Finishing:This is the finishing where preservatives and pigments are applied before their installation. This means more work for you, but if you do it after installation, then the chances of your installation getting damaged are higher.

Convenient Wood Shake Roof Maintenance Strategy

It is essential that the fiber of your roof’s shakes is retained or else they will start falling apart sooner than you think. The initial signs of aging that your roof will show are creaking, and you will feel it brittle under your foot when you walk on it.

Furthermore, you’ll see them cracking and loosening here and there as time passes. Therefore, it’s necessary to power-wash these shakes every now and then to keep them in good condition. Most people take their maintenance routine too far by either power-washing too aggressively or too frequently.

It is recommended to hire a professional washing service as they are trained to take care of such problems. We have already discussed how you can avoid fungal attacks, growth of algae, mosses, and mildews over the shakes’ surface by using nailing strips.

Moreover, finishing and plywood base work well against problems like weathering and water penetration inside shakes. You can refinish and repaint your shakes now and then to secure their durability.

Damages and Wood Shake Roof Repairs

The repair methods depend on the nature of the damage your roof is suffering. For instance, if some shakes are getting loose, then you can either fix them up by interlaying more connectors and replacing fasteners. But if a shake is rotting from the core, then it is best to replace it with a new one.

How to remove a damaged shake:

  • Use a hammer to split the shake
  • Hit the shake at a slanted angle to make it break off from the roof
  • If there are fasteners and nail heads stuck to it, then use a hacksaw to make them lose their grip

Once you remove the damaged shake without disturbing the others around it, you can measure the gap it left behind to cut a new shake to install in its place. You can either use old fasteners or nails if they are in good condition or you can buy new ones.
You can fill up the spaces around the shakes if there are any gaps among them by using a composite compound.

The Estimated Wood Shake Roof Cost

The cost of a wood shake roof depends on what type and grade of a wood you are using to put it together. The higher graded timber is more expensive, and wood types like Alaskan-yellow cedar are also costly as they are more durable than the others.

For Installation:

The cost of installation depends on the size of your roof and varies accordingly. The bigger your roof is, the more material you’ll have to use to put together your roof.

Ideally, for a 3,000-sq.ft space, you’ll have to spend a maximum of $20,000 on average. If you want to use only high-quality material to install your shake roof, then the figure can go past $25,000 quickly. The lowest budget for such roofing is around $15,000, and it can’t go lower than that.

For Maintenance:

Most preservatives can last for a maximum of seven years, yet it is advised to keep retouching the wood shakes with either finishing or additives. It takes barely $200 to do so.

For Repair:

This again depends upon the extent of the damage you must repair. If you’re repairing a few damaged shakes, then the expense will fall under $300, but if the damage is extensive, then the cost can go beyond $1000.

Rossy Occum

I am working in general home contractor and for last 3 years making projects related to house roofing. After all, roof house makes me learn again and i am passionate.