Roof shingles are one building material that absolutely needs to be tough. Though wooden roof shingles are almost as old as roofing itself, the truth is that these shingles still aren't exactly impervious to damage. Even the best wood shingles will end up in need of repairs and replacement. Getting shingles made from quality wood is the best way to prevent premature failure, but what wood is the best for the job?
If you ask most roofers about the wood of their choice for shingles, chances are that you will hear one of three answers:
Figuring out which wood will be the best for your roofing project can be difficult, but a little research can make the whole process easier. Let's see what features make each wood type a great choice.
The Top Three Woods For Roof Shingles
One could argue that almost any type of hardwood could be used for roofing, and they wouldn't be wrong. Most woods could work well in the right conditions. However, there are three woods that seem to be better than the rest.
By and far the most popular shingle wood out there, cedar offers a low price tag, insect repellant properties, and excellent mold resistance. When treated well, cedar can turn into a resilient, humidity-friendly shingle material. Red cedar, in particular, is popular as a shingle wood.
If red cedar isn't your cup of tea, you can also find yellow cedar and other cedars being used with pretty epic success. However, these woods might be slightly more expensive.
Is there nothing teak can't do? Teak is great for shower benches, and it also happens to be one of the most water-resistant woods known to man. Since it naturally contains chemicals that make it resistant to pests, mold, and disease, teak wood is often considered to be the gold standard. With that said, many people ask for it by name just because of the elegant and unique appearance it offers.
If you want to buy teak shingles, be forewarned: it gets expensive. Taking a look at the wood siding prices for teak can give you an idea of what to expect.
In a lot of ways, wallaba is the lesser-known cousin of teak. This wood is famous for its ability to withstand hurricane-style weather, and for having a water-resistant build. This reddish-brown wood is the most water-resistant of all three, making it an ideal wood for people who live in high rainfall areas.
People often choose wallaba wood as a shingle because it is viewed as a cheaper alternative to teak. This South American wood is a truly gorgeous pick!
What Other Wood Types Can Be Used For Shingles?
If you can't spring for cedar, teak, or wallaba, there are other options that you can use to make the shingles you want. Other popular wood types include:
- Osage Orange
- White Oak
- Yellow Poplar
- Rock Elm
- Black Locust
- Honey Locust
With many of these types, you will need to treat them with a protective coating before you add them to your roof. Otherwise, they might not be able to work well in the long run.
What Is The Difference Between Wood Shakes And Shingles?
If you've been reading up on wooden roofs, you may have noticed that the terms "wood shake" and "wood shingle" are used interchangeably. While this may be okay when you're just talking about color coordinating your roof, the truth is that there's a small difference between the two. It's more semantics than anything, but still worth learning about.
Wood shingles are custom-cut pieces of wood that are meant to look mass-made. They're sleek, clean-looking, and uniform in style. Wood shakes, on the other hand, are hand-cut. Shakes are less uniform in appearance, and is often described as "rugged." Another major difference between the two is durability. Shakes are less durable than shingles.
Which Wood Type Should Never Be Used For Shingles?
Even though many wood types can be used as a shingle material, there is one wood type that has a foul reputation for shingle usage. While many hardwoods and softwoods can be used, red oaks are considered to be pretty poor choices for shingles. Red oak woods have a tendency of rotting quickly. They also attract pests, which means that your roof wouldn't look too good for long.
How Much Does A Wood Roof Cost?
The price of a wood roof will vary depending on whether you choose shake or shingle. Wood shake roofing will cost between $2.50 to $5.00 per square foot. Shingles, being the more expensive option, will range between $6.50 to $10 per square foot. If you were hoping for a cheap roofing option, wood is not it.
How Long Do Wood Shingles Last?
Wood shingles are slightly more long-lasting than most types of shakes. When properly cared for, it's possible to enjoy shingles for as long as 30 years. In some cases, wood shingles can last 50 years or so. However, it's important to remember that you need to maintain your wood shingles to get the most out of their excellent build.
How Do You Extend The Life Of A Wood Shingle Roof?
A wood shingle roof is an investment. It's pricey, and you need to treat it well if you want to get your money's worth. The best way to extend your roof's life is to give it a protective wood coating treatment twice a year. Of course, keeping it clean and clearing out any leaves that fall in the way can help.
Getting the right wood roof protectant is a must for roof lifespan maximization. If you can, try to find a wood oil that is specific for the type of wood shingles you have. Not sure which protectant is right for your roof? Ask a roof care specialist before you purchase something.
Which Wood Shingle Is The Most Durable?
The jury is out on this one. Cedar, teak, and wallaba all have their own fans. With that said, each wood has its own tips and tricks to use:
- Red cedar is the top choice for areas that are prone to pests since the smell of cedar deters most insects. In fact, it can even deter mice that might otherwise want to make your home theirs.
- If impact is your primary concern, choose teak. Teak is water-resistant and rot-resistant, true, but it's also the hardest wood out of all three options.
- Hurricane-prone areas are famous for doing best with wallaba. Wallaba is flexible enough to handle violent hurricane winds better than teak.
- Adding protective coatings or finishes to any wood type will help extend its life as shingles, regardless of the wood species.
Finding the right wood for your home's shingles is never going to be easy, and many of the aspects of shopping for shingles will be nuanced. The best shingles for your home will often depend on your budget, the type of look that you want for your home, and the area in which you live. After all, different homes will have to withstand different environments.
Getting shingles installed on your roof is an expensive endeavor, which is why it often is best to take your time when choosing the right wood. When in doubt, reach out to a professional and ask them what they would suggest.