This week’s question comes from Jeremy in Tampa, FL.
“Why does no one use legitimate cedar or wood shake shingles anymore?…didn’t some of the older houses begin that way?”
Good question Jeremy!
I love the look of wood shingle roofs and despite what a lot of folks might think wood shingle roofs can last just as long, if not longer, than asphalt shingles.
Shakes are hand-split shingles and regular shingles are saw-cut. Shakes are generally thicker and much more expensive than sawn singles because they can last longer and withstand the elements better.
Depending on materials, climate and installation a wood shingle roof can last 20-40 years comfortably while you’ll rarely get more than 25-30 years out of asphalt shingles.
Two Reason’s Wood Shingles Aren’t Used Anymore
First, they are more expensive. Wood is a finite resource and quality shingles have gotten more expensive as the decades have progressed.
Second, is the risk of fire. In Florida (which is the lightening capital of the world) a wood roof is a big fire hazard. Increased risk of fire means increased homeowner’s insurance costs, if they will even cover you at all.
Due to the fire risk a lot of local building codes won’t even allow wood shingle roofing as an option anymore.
Wood shingle roofs are still available, but due to their cost and dangers, they have generally fallen out of favor. Even if they are one of the most character rich roof coverings you can have.
Founder & Senior Editor
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.