The Ultimate Guide to Wood Shake Roofing: Benefits, Drawbacks, and Maintenance

Wood shake roofing, with its timeless appeal and natural beauty, has adorned homes for centuries, offering a distinctive look that blends seamlessly with various architectural styles. Despite the advent of modern roofing materials, wood shakes remain a favored choice for homeowners seeking a blend of traditional aesthetics and natural functionality. This guide delves into the intricacies of wood shake roofing, exploring its advantages, potential concerns, and essential maintenance tips to ensure longevity and performance.

Advantages of Wood Shake Roofing

Natural Insulation Properties

Wood shakes are renowned for their excellent insulating capabilities. The natural structure of wood allows it to maintain a comfortable interior temperature, keeping homes warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. This inherent insulation can lead to significant energy savings over time.

Durability Against the Elements

Properly installed and maintained wood shakes offer remarkable durability, especially against wind and pests. Certain wood types, such as cedar, contain natural oils that repel insects and resist decay, making them an ideal choice for roofing materials.

Aesthetic Appeal

The unparalleled beauty of wood shakes lies in their unique texture, color variations, and the way they age gracefully. No two wood shake roofs are exactly alike, allowing homeowners to enjoy a roof that becomes more visually appealing with time.

Environmental Friendliness

Wood shakes are a sustainable roofing option, sourced from renewable resources. When it’s time for replacement, wood shakes can be recycled or composted, reducing environmental impact compared to petroleum-based roofing materials.

Concerns Associated with Wood Shake Roofing

Fire Hazard

While modern wood shakes are treated with fire retardants, wood is inherently flammable. Homeowners in fire-prone areas may need to consider additional treatments or alternative materials to mitigate this risk.

Vulnerability to Moisture, Mold, and Mildew

Wood shakes can absorb moisture, leading to the growth of mold and mildew if not properly maintained. This can compromise the roof’s integrity and lead to the need for more frequent repairs or replacement.

Potential for Cracking and Leaks

Over time, wood shakes can develop cracks due to exposure to the elements, increasing the risk of leaks. Regular inspection and maintenance are crucial to address these issues promptly.

Color Fading and Weathering

While many appreciate the weathered look of aged wood shakes, others may find the fading color and appearance less desirable. This aesthetic change is inevitable with wood roofing materials.

Maintenance Tips for Wood Shake Roofs

Maintaining a wood shake roof is essential to maximize its lifespan and preserve its natural beauty. Here are key maintenance strategies:

Regular Cleaning and Debris Removal

Keep the roof free of debris, such as leaves and branches, to prevent moisture retention and decay. Gentle cleaning methods should be used to avoid damaging the shakes.

Application of Preservatives

Applying wood preservatives every few years can help protect against UV damage, moisture, and pests, extending the life of the roof.

Prompt Repair of Damaged Shakes

Replace cracked, split, or missing shakes promptly to prevent water infiltration and further damage to the roofing structure.

Installation of Zinc or Copper Strips

To combat the growth of moss and algae, consider installing zinc or copper strips at the roof’s peak. These metals release ions that inhibit growth, keeping the roof cleaner and extending its lifespan.


Wood shake roofing offers a unique combination of aesthetic appeal, natural insulation, and environmental sustainability, making it a cherished option for many homeowners. However, it requires a commitment to regular maintenance and an understanding of its inherent drawbacks. For those considering wood shake roofing, partnering with a reputable contractor like Roof Xpress in Greensboro, NC, ensures expert installation and maintenance, preserving the beauty and functionality of your wood shake roof for years to come.