Cedar shake nailing pattern (C) Carson Dunlop Associates

Wood Roof Life Expectancy: Shakes, Shingles
     

  • WOOD ROOF LIFE EXPECTANCY - CONTENTS: Wood roof life expectancy. Wood shingle life, wood shake life on roofs. Factors that determine the life expectancy of wood shingle or wood shake roofs. Wood shingle or wood shake roof life expectancy. Wood shingle or shake roof life, wood roof inspection, wood roo fleak detection, wood roof trouble diagnosis, roof repair.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the typical lifetime of wood shingle roofs or wood shake roofs
  • REFERENCES

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Wood roof life expectancy: Here we summarize the average life expectancy of wood roofs, including wood shingle roofs and wood shake roofs, and we list the factors that affect expected wood shingle/shake roof life. We photographed the wood shingle roofed home shown above in Frankfort, Germany in 1969 - Ed. See WOOD SHAKE & SHINGLE ROOFING where nearly every wood roof article listed there includes factors that will affect wood roof life.

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How Long Will a Wood Shingle or Wood Shake Roof Last?

List of Factors Affecting the Life Expectancy of Wood Roof Shingles or Shakes

Improperly set wood shingle roof (C) Daniel FriedmanThe combination of observations about wood roof condition, leaks, shingle or shake installation quality, condition of the shingles or shakes, WOOD ROOF WEAR / INSTALLATION DEFECTS and WOOD ROOF MOSS & LICHENS will allow an experienced inspector to estimate the "wear age" of a roof - that is, not its chronological age but the rough percent of typical life expectancy that remains for the roof.

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  • The typical life of a wood shingle roof is 30-40 years.
  • Similarly, a good quality, properly-installed wood shake roof has a life expectancy of 20-40 years.

But wood shingle or wood shake roof life expectancy varies considerably depending on

  • The wood shingle or wood shake grade or quality
  • How the shingles were installed
  • How the wood shingle or shake roof is ventilated. For example wood shingles installed on solid plywood roof decking can be expected to have a shorter life than the same shingles installed over skip sheathing or spaced nailers that provide plenty of ventilation. See our quote below from BEST ROOFING PRACTICES.
  • The pitch of the wood shingle or wood shake roof (its slope)
  • The wood shingle or wood shake roof's sun and weather exposure
  • The wood shingle or wood shake roof's exposure to overhanging trees or debris that may hold water on its surface
  • The wood shingle or wood shake roof's exposure to shade that may promote moss or lichens growth
  • Flashing material, installation quality, proper details

As stated in Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction (printed text) chapter on BEST ROOFING PRACTICES:

Other than selecting a durable wood, the most important factor in determining a wood roof’s longevity is its ability to dry out from both top and bottom when wet. While this was a natural feature of traditional installations over spaced sheathing, new methods and products are required for installation over solid sheathing. The two main approaches are:

  • Create a system of spaced sheathing above the solid sheathing using vertical and horizontal battens; or
  • Use a breathable underlayment applied over the sheathing

 

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