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Wood Shake and Shingle Roofs

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25 Years of Experience in Wood Shake and Shingle Roofs

A shake is a basic wooden shingle made from split log "bolts." Shakes have traditionally been used for roofing and siding applications around the world. Higher-grade shakes (tighter grain) are typically used for roofing purposes, while the lower grades are used for siding. In either situation, properly installed shakes provide weather protection and a rustic appearance, though they require more maintenance than some other more modern weatherproofing systems.

The term shake is sometimes used as a colloquialism for all wood shingles, though shingles are sawn rather than split. In traditional usage, "shake" refers to the board to which the shingle is nailed, not the shingle. Split wooden shingles are referred to as shag shingles.

Modern wooden shingles, both sawn and split, continue to be made, but they differ from the historic ones. Modern commercially available shakes are generally thicker than the historic hand-split counterpart and are usually left "undressed" with a rough, unfinished grain surface. The rough-surface shake is often considered to be more rustic and historic, but in fact, this is a modern architectural evolution.

Some modern shingles are produced in pre-cut decorative patterns, sometimes called fancy-cut shingles, and are available pre-primed for later painting. The sides of rectangular shingles may be re-squared and re-butted, which means they 've been reworked so the sides are parallel and the butt is square to the sides. These are more uniform and are installed more neatly as a result.

Shingles are less durable than shakes, particularly in wet climates; shakes are finished with a drawknife or similar tool which leaves a smooth surface that resists water penetration, and this in turn slows the softening of wood by microorganisms. Also, the method of splitting shakes rather than sawing ensures only straight-grained pieces (which are much stronger and less likely to warp) are used.

In North America, shakes are typically made from Western Red Cedar, which is becoming increasingly hard to source; nowadays a good portion of the cedar shakes on the market are imported from Canada and Alaska. California redwood and white cedars were historically used due to the rot-resistant properties of the wood, but the trees are now rare and the wood is no longer available.

The main differentiating feature between shakes and other types of wood shingles is that shakes are split while most shingles are sawn on all sides. In North America, shakes are usually made in a 24-inch size. Wooden shingles are manufactured in differing lengths in North America: 16-, 18-, and 24-inch.

Are Wood Shake Roofs Legal in Colorado?

Because wooden shakes and shingles have been around for so long, you might be surprised to find out that there are many laws curtailing their use. Especially in places like Colorado, where we have high winds and hot, dry weather—perfect conditions for wildfires. As you might expect, wooden roofs aren't fire-resistant.

Because of this, certain counties have made it more difficult to install, repair, or replace wood shake roofs. Even out on the plains, it can be tough to get permits to work on wooden roofs. Some Front Range counties, including Boulder and Douglas, don't let you repair your wood roof at all. If there's damage, you'll have to replace it.

To find out if wood shake roofs are legal where you live, get in touch with your city or county. You can also contact us and we'll find out for you.

Do Insurance Companies Insure Wood Roofs?

This is another issue that our customers run into. Because of the fire hazard, some insurance companies will increase the price of your property insurance if you have a wood shake roof.

Other companies won't insure them or will even cancel your homeowners policy if you have one. In addition to the fire hazard, this is partly because of the cost of wood shake roofs; replacing them with like-kind shakes or shingles can cost the insurance company a huge amount of money.

Find Out More About Wood Shake Roofs and What We Can Do for You

Whether you have a wood shake roof, want wooden shingles on your house, or just have questions about wood roofs in general, we're here to help. We're experienced in repairing and replacing these roofs and we know the laws around Colorado.

Our employees have a great deal of experience in inspecting and settling insurance claims involving wood roofs, too. If your wood shake has been damaged, get in touch with us before you submit the claim to make sure it's worth your time.

Give us a call at 303.332.3107 today for a free consultation!

If you want the beauty and classic styling of wood shake without all the drawbacks, be sure to check out Decra tile shake roofs.