Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ROOFING INSPECTION & REPAIR
AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING
BEST ROOFING PRACTICES
BUILT UP ROOFS
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
CERTIFICATIONS for ROOFING CONTRACTORS
CHIMNEY FLASHING Mistakes & Leaks
COLD WEATHER ROOF TROUBLE
DECKS, ROOFTOP CONSTRUCTION
EPDM, RUBBER, PVC ROOFING
EXTRACTIVE BLEEDING on SHINGLES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FLASHING on BUILDINGS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
Green House or Solarium Roof Leaks
HEAT TAPES & CABLES on Roofs for Ice Dams
ROOF ICE DAM LEAKS
MASONITE WOODRUF FIBERBOARD ROOFING
NOISE CONTROL for ROOFS
PLASTIC ROOFING TYPES
PVC, EPDM, RUBBER ROOFING
ROOF ARCHITECTURAL STYLES - PHOTO GUIDE
ROOF CLEANING RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF COLOR RECOMMENDATIONS
ROOF INSPECTION SAFETY & LIMITS
ROOF LEAK DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
ROOF NOISE TRANSMISSION
ROOF REPLACEMENT SNAFUs
ROOFING FELT UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS
ROOFING MATERIALS, Age, Types
SADDLE CONSTRUCTION at CHIMNEYS
SNOW GUARDS & SNOW BRAKES
STANDARDS for ROOFING
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
TEST LABS - ROOF SHINGLE
TREES & SHRUBS, TRIM OFF BUILDING
TRUSSES, Floor & Roof
UNDERLAYMENT REQUIREMENTS on ROOFS
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALK-ON ROOF SURFACES
WARRANTIES for ROOF SHINGLES
WORKMANSHIP & ROOF DAMAGE
This article discusses the properties of wood roof shingles and shakes, including shingle grades, wood species used in roofing, and wood roof shingle or shake warranties.
This article series discusses best practices in the selection and installation of residential roofing. Our page top photo shows a wood shingle roof on the historic Mesier Homestead in Wappingers Falls, NY.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
A number of factors affect the longevity of a wood roof. Key factors include the durability of the wood, local humidity and precipitation levels, and whether the roofing was installed with adequate ventilation.
Other factors include the slope of the roof (steeper slopes shed water faster) and the presence of overhanging trees that shade the roof and drop organic debris onto the roof, trapping moisture on the surface. Some of these factors can be controlled by the contractor; some managed by the homeowner. Others, like the weather or the reduced durability of second-growth cedar, are beyond our control.
Some simple steps that a homeowner can take to prolong the life of a wood roof include:
Over time, the natural extractives in cedar and other decay-resistant species will leach out, making the wood vulnerable to decay. Also, as the shingles dry out, they are prone to cupping, checking, and splitting. At some point, it may make sense to wash and treat the entire roof.
Washing or Cleaning Advice for Wood Roofs
Cleaning wood roofs with high-pressure equipment is controversial and, in untrained hands, can cause significant damage. It is best to use normal garden hose pressure along with a brush or pump sprayer. To remove dirt, mildew, and weathered gray residue, a consortium of wood technology and coatings experts, including the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), recommend a solution of sodium percarbonate (disodium peroxydicabonate) and water.
With redwood and cedar, a second wash with a solution of oxalic acid may be needed to remove brown and black discoloration caused by tannins that leached out of the wood. Concentrated oxalic acid is toxic and should be handled with care.
More information: see STAIN DIAGNOSIS on ROOFS.
Preservative Treatments for Wood Shingle / Shake Roofs
There are a number of commercial treatments available to restore decay-resistance to an aging wood roof. One effective and relatively benign (to plants) treatment consists of a copper-naphthenate compound called Cunapsol 5, which is diluted 1:4 with water and can be applied with a garden sprayer. The treatment needs to be repeated approximately every five years.
More details: see WOOD ROOF COATINGS & FIRE RATINGS.
Oil-Borne Wood Roof Preservatives
Although Cunapsol 5 and similar waterborne treatments offer good protection against mold, mildew, and decay fungi, they will not do anything to slow down the cupping and splitting caused by weathering. For that, an oil-borne treatment is required.
Effective wood roof shake or shingle preservative treatments include copper naphthenate with a 3 to 4% metal content and copper octoate with a 1 to 2% metal content. These can be brushed on or dipped (before installation) or professionally applied with spray equipment.
Semitransparent Oil-Based Preservative Stains on Wood Roofs
Semitransparent oil-based preservative stains work well on rough-textured wood, such as shakes and shingles. They provide some pigmentation and protect the roof from decay for several years. Look for a product with both a wood preservative and a water repellent.
Stains with a high percentage of pigment provide the best protection against UV degradation. While preservative stains are best applied before installing the shingles, a surface application can significantly extend the life of a wood roof.
Treatments to Use and to Avoid on Wood Shingles and Shake Roofs
According to the Shingle and Shake Bureau, one should use only products that are marketed and labeled as a cedar roof treatment, that have an MSDS available, and that contain one or more of the following: a water repellent, UV inhibitor, or U.S. EPA-registered wood preservative. The following treatments should never be used on wood shingles or shakes:
-- Adapted with permission from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction.
Continue reading at WOOD ROOF COATINGS & FIRE RATINGS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References