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What Kind Of Life Expectancy Do Wood Shakes Have?

What Kind Of Life Expectancy Do Wood Shakes Have?

When considering various roofing materials, one of the most common questions homeowners have is, “How long will it last?” Roof materials have different lifespans. Tile and slate are known to be particularly long-lasting options. Metal can outlast asphalt shingles. But what about wood shakes?

Often, people assume because they are wood, cedar shakes won’t last very long. This assumption is not accurate. The cedar used for wood shakes is resistant to rot and has other properties which give it longevity. In fact, a cedar roof can last just as long as an asphalt roof if cared for properly.


How Long Will Wood Shakes Last?

A wood shake roof will last approximately 30 years under average conditions. Some roofs last longer than this, while some need to be replaced a little sooner. This lifespan is comparable to the lifespan of architectural shingles, most of which are rated for 30 years. 

If you want a really long-lived roof, then tile, slate, and metal are the top options to consider. However, these roof materials are much more expensive than asphalt tiles, and some people do not find them attractive. They might also not fit with the architectural feel of the home or building that is being roofed. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to asphalt with a comparable lifespan, then cedar shakes are a top option to consider. 


What Makes Wood Shakes So Durable?

It may surprise you that a piece of wood could last 30 years on top of your home. But wood shakes are not your average wood. They’re made from cedar, which is far more durable and less prone to rot than other woods. The cedar contains natural oils which thwart bacterial and fungal growth. These oils also repel wood-chewing insects, such as termites and carpenter ants.

The way the shakes are cut also contributes to their longevity. Shakes are chiseled off the ends of cedar logs. They are cut with the grain of the wood, which makes them better at shedding water. So when it rains, the water quickly drains off the roof, which minimizes rot.


Factors Which Affect Lifespan

There are a few key factors that affect how long a cedar roof will last. Some of these can be modified, and others cannot.


An improperly installed shake roof may fail within a few years, but a properly installed one can last decades. Shakes, applied properly, shed water, and resist damage. They must also be installed over a proper, waterproof underlayment and with the correct amount of overlap. Hire an experienced, reputable roofer to install your cedar shake roof, and it will last longer. Installing a cedar roof is not a good DIY project.


Shade from a nearby tree can shorten a cedar roof’s life. Moss and algae thrive on wood roofs that receive too much shade. If there’s a tree overhanging your roof, consider having it removed or trimmed back to increase your roof’s lifespan.

UV Exposure

Some sunlight is good as it dries out the roof after a rainstorm. However, too much UV exposure can make the shakes more brittle and shorten their lifespan. There is not much you can do about the amount of sun your roof receives. Just be aware: wood roofs in sunny areas don’t last quite as long as those in more temperate climates.

Gutter Functionality

A wood shake roof must be paired with an appropriate gutter system. Gutters ensure water drains properly off the roof. Have your gutters cleaned at least twice a year, and repair any leaky or damaged gutters properly. This is especially important in the winter to prevent ice accumulation. 


Proper, adequate attic insulation helps protect your cedar shakes from fluctuations in temperature. This can extend the life of the overall roof. Insulation also helps prevent the buildup of damaging ice in the winter. 


Benefits of Wood Shake Roofing

Since wood shakes last about as long as asphalt shingles, why would someone choose wood over asphalt roofing? As it turns out, wood shakes have some unique benefits.

Wood shakes are a natural material. They’re made from a renewable resource, and they’re eco-friendly when you dispose of them. The wood will break down and become soil again without contributing to the pollution problem.

Wood shakes also have a specific, historical look. They coordinate well with certain architectural styles, such as the Craftsman style and Tudor style. Cottage owners also tend to like the way cedar shakes look on their cozy homes.

If you’re looking for a more natural, eco-friendly roof material with a lifespan similar to that of asphalt shingles, then cedar shakes are a great option to consider. Just make sure you have your roof installed by reputable, experienced roofers. Contact Stevens Roofing Corp if you’re looking for roofers in the Richmond or Norfolk areas. We’re experts on wood shake roofing and will install a roof you’ll be proud to call your own.

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