A Natural Look with a lot of Character
Because of variations like color, width, thickness, or cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever be the same.
Wood offers some energy benefits too. It helps to insulate the attic and allows the house to breathe. This circulates air through the small openings under the felt rows on which wooden shingles are laid.
A wood shake roof however, demands proper maintenance and repair or it will not last as long as other products. Mold, rot, and insects can be a problem. The life cycle cost of a shake roof may be high, and old shakes can't be recycled.
Most wood shakes are unrated by fire safety codes. Many use wipe or spray-on fire retardants which offer less protection and are only effective for a few years. There are pressure-treated shakes however, that are impregnated with fire retardant and meet national fire safety standards. Made by companies like Chemco, this pressure treating extends the life of wood shingles and provides better fire safety performance.
Installing wood shakes is more complicated than roofing with composite shingles, and the quality of finished roof depends on the experience of the contractor as well as the caliber of the shakes you use. The best shakes come from the heartwood of large old cedar trees, difficult to find any more. Some contractors maintain that shakes made from the outer wood of smaller cedars - the usual source today - are less uniform, more subject to twisting and warping, and don't last as long.