How to Preserve and Clean Wood Shingles

The search for a shingle with high aesthetic value often ends with wood shakes and shingles. Installing wood on your home can bring a unique and beautiful look to your roof. Since wood grains naturally differ, no two wood shake roofs are the same. Though there have been imitation wood shake shingles made from asphalt shingles, these shingles will never successfully duplicate the smooth quality of natural wood shakes. Wood shingles are also an environmentally conscious choice, as they are a renewable resource. Not only this, but the natural choice of the wood on your roof will be more energy efficient than asphalt shingles, because they help to keep your attic cooler.

However, there are also downsides to installing wood shakes on your roof. Wood is not as durable as asphalt shingles, yet they can cost around twice as much. Wood is susceptible to termite damage, rotting and scum. To install a wood shake roof means a commitment of regular, vigorous cleaning of both the roof, the gutters, and the surrounding areas such as trees and any source of debris. In the end, the choice comes down to what is important to you as a home owner.

If you do choose to install wood shakes on your roof or home, you should be aware of the maintenance and care process. First, be sure to select a wood that is high in durability. Redwood and cedar are both known for their weather-resistant qualities. These woods have a high level of natural oils that preserve the wood. If you choose to go with another wood choice, be sure that it has been factory treated with a preservative. These factory treatments force the preservative deep into the wood with high pressure. Wood that has been factory treated is usually under warranty.

Once you have your wood shakes installed, be sure to keep them clean. Trim any trees surrounding your home to prevent pine needles, leaves or twigs from piling up on your roof. Keeping your roof free of debris will lengthen it’s life. Also, be sure to clean your gutters and downspouts twice a year to avoid any buildup on your roof. Many manufacturers recommend that your roof be power-washed at least once a year to open the pores in the wood before applying a preservative. However, it has been shown that inexperienced power-washing can actually cause damage to your roof. If you choose to power-wash your roof, carefully select a professional with a reputation for good customer satisfaction.

Never power-wash your roof without applying a topical treatment afterwards. When choosing a contractor to clean and treat your roof, choose one who offers topical treatments that are:

  • Water repellents
  • UV inhibitors
  • EPA registered wood preservative
  • Is labeled as an appropriate product for your type of wood shake.

You may find these details in a MSDS (material safety data sheet).

Do not allow any contractor to apply a topical treatment to your roof that is:

  • A water sealant
  • Containing unfortified linseed oil
  • Containing diesel fuel
  • Containing crank case oil

Any of these ingredients can actually trap moisture inside of your roof, under the pretext of keeping moisture out. Water will run underneath the shingles or shakes and have no way to escape. This results in your shingles curling, then finally becoming brittle and cracking.

Applying the correct topical treatments, as well as keeping your roof clean and clear, will help lengthen the life of your wood shake roof. Consequently, just taking these few steps every year can save you a lot of money in re-roofing costs. However, even if you successfully perform all of the maintenance required on your roof, do not expect it to last as long as asphalt shingles will. In the end, though wood shingles and shakes have a vast number of qualities, they are not as durable as other roofing materials. It is up to you whether a beautiful wood shake roof is worth the work for you and your home.

residential roofing