What is Shake Roofing? A Brief History
Shake roofing is a relatively modern term which came into use after the advent of mass-manufactured asphalt shingles early in the 20th Century. Before that, any shingle was presumed to be made from wood. Up until the mid 19th Century, wood and slate shingles, along with clay tile were the most common roofing materials, depending on the local availability of raw materials. European settlers brought with them the classical architectural styles of the Old Country and wood shake roofs were prominent features in many of those traditional home styles. An abundance of timber and ease of fabrication and installation made wood shingles and shakes the most popular roofing materials in the Colonial era until they were edged out by the immensely popular asphalt shingle.
Traditional Shake Materials
Many people today use the terms "wood shakes" and "wood shingles" interchangeably, but architects and roofing professionals can tell you that there is a subtle difference. Most wood shake and shingle materials today are cut or split from cedar, cypress, pine or redwood. An article at Fine Homebuilding explains that a wood shingle is sawed on both sides with a thinner 1/2" butt. The thicker 3/4" shake is usually split down one or both sides. Since the wood shingle is saw-cut they often have some cross-grain coarseness, while split wood shakes retain the naturally smooth vertical grain more closely.
Limitations of Wood Shakes and Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles are still the most common roofing choice, used on nearly 70% of today's homes. When asphalt shingles became available they quickly replaced wood shakes as the most common residential roofing choice. By early 20th Century standards, mass-produced asphalt shingles offered versatility for complex roof designs and were certainly an improvement over wood shakes where durability was concerned.
Even the best wood shake roofs weather quickly, fading to a dull gray after exposure to sunlight and the elements. Cupping and splitting leave wood shake roofs vulnerable to wind uplift, and repeated wet/dry stresses cause expansion and contraction resulting in loosening around the fasteners. Wood shake roofs require constant maintenance and replacement whereas asphalt shingles could endure for 10 or 20 years. Shady, damp locations can foster mold and other bacterial growth in both wood shakes and asphalt shingles requiring extra chemical treatments, cleaning, and maintenance.
Thomas Jefferson recognized the many shortcomings of wood shake roofing and developed his own innovative tin shingle metal roofing to crown his famous plantation mansion, Monticello. Jefferson also developed standing seam metal roof profiles as an architect for many of the University of Virginia campus buildings. As an architectural innovator, Thomas Jefferson was a man ahead of his time and Monticello was his architectural laboratory. His metal shingle roofing profiles proved that beauty and elegance need not be sacrificed to obtain the benefits of metal roofing strength and durability. Today metal roofing is steadily eclipsing asphalt shingles just as they themselves replaced wood shakes at the turn of the last century.
Despite its many shortcomings, the wood shake has embedded itself as an important design element in many traditional architectural styles. Many intricate roof designs rely on the dimensional aspect, the distinct shadows and natural textures of thick wood shakes to highlight the complex elegance of the roof, which is always one of the most prominent features of any home design. Heavy asphalt or composite "architectural" shingles can sometimes stand in as aesthetic substitutes for the wood shake, but the homeowner is then signing on for a long recurring schedule of ongoing maintenance and roof replacements every decade or so. These heavy "shake substitutes" most frequently require a complete tear-off before remodeling or restoring the roof to its original beauty, adding to the long list of recurring expenses.
Standing seam metal roofs can provide all the benefits of durability and energy efficiency but they are sure to disrupt the beauty and rustic elegance in a style such as the traditional American Shingle Style home, especially one which relies on a classic shake roof profile for elegance and curb appeal.
Enhancing Architectural Home Styles with DECRA Metal Shakes
Today, informed homeowners can avail themselves of all the benefits of metal roofing without compromising the classic beauty of traditional wood shakes with DECRA metal shakes, the only roofing products available warrantied to last a lifetime while adding strength and beauty. A 10-20 year lifespan may have been impressive in the 20th Century, but DECRA's stone-coated metal roofing products are made to endure for decades, setting the gold standard by which all other 21st Century roofing profiles are measured.
A Wide Variety of DECRA Metal Shake Styles
Wood shakes are the prominent classic feature on home styles ranging from rustic rural lodges to elaborate estate centerpieces such as Spanish-Mexican, Victorian, and Tudor manor homes and mansions. The natural colors of redwood, pine, and cedar can be stunning but short-lived without the continuous care and maintenance required for preserving a wood shake roof under assault by the elements.
Multi-layered steel durability and DECRA's proprietary acrylic stone-coating formula combine to ensure that the original color is just as beautiful after decades of exposure as it was when first installed on day one of your roofing upgrade. You can preview the curb appeal and aesthetic impact of DECRA metal roofing choices at our Design Your Roof page, whether you're restoring or upgrading to enhance your home with ageless beauty.
DECRA Shake XD®
The DECRA Shake XD line of premium XD roofing shakes is the stone-coated metal solution for upgrading from the traditional, high-maintenance thick hand-split wood shake while retaining the traditional tones and textures of antique chestnut, pinnacle grey, or woodland green. Unlike wood shakes DECRA XD shakes retain their original colors for decades without requiring chemical protection, or repeated staining or spraying to stand up under the elements.
Red cedar shakes are among the most popular for sophisticated shake roofs. The DECRA Shake allows discerning homeowners to incorporate the stunning beauty and dimensional presence which the distinct shadows and textures of the traditional cedar shake roof without the worries of bacterial growth such as mold and mildew. The DECRA shake is available in a wide spectrum of hues which can add elegance and harmony to any sophisticated architectural theme including Charcoal, Chestnut, Granite Grey, Shadowood, and Weathered Timber.
Benefits of DECRA Metal Shake Roofs
- Both DECRA Shake and DECRA Shake XD profiles use a unique interlocking panel system to ensure wind uplift resistance which can't be matched by conventional wood shakes or asphalt shingles. DECRA roofing profiles meet the most rigorous building codes for hurricane-prone regions. Asphalt shingle manufacturers typically offer wind warranties between 60-110 mph and fragile wood shakes aren't warrantied for wind resistance at all. DECRA sets the bar much higher. All DECRA metal roofs come with a transferrable limited lifetime warranty with the highest wind rating at 120 mph. We wind test our stone-coated metal products at twice that velocity, 240 mph, to ensure a 100% safety factor for our DECRA protected homeowners.
- Stone-coated metal DECRA shakes have superior resistance to snow, sleet, ice, and rain. The durable stone-coating protects the underlying steel layers from corrosion preserving strength and protection from the elements for decades. That means that loosening around the fasteners, cupping, splitting, and expansion/contraction stresses due to seasonal temperature extremes is no longer a concern.
- All DECRA roofing products carry the highest UL2218 certification with a Class 4 impact rating against hail penetration. Unlike many roofing manufacturers, DECRA does not limit the size of the hail in the industry's best, most comprehensive warranty.
- Energy efficiency is improved significantly with metal roofing, with homeowners reporting up to 20% savings in heating and cooling costs.
- Environmental impact is reduced. Asphalt shingles usually require complete tear-offs for reroofing every 10-20 years which contributes an astounding 8% of total construction waste to landfills each year. Wood shakes release greenhouse gases as they decompose over decades and rely on crucial difficult-to-sustain timber resources. DECRA metal shakes are manufactured with 30% recycled steel and they are 95% recyclable. DECRA is a prominent supplier for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects.
DECRA Metal Roofs: One Roof For A Lifetime
DECRA eliminates the cost of replacing the roof every 10 or 20 years. While the initial investment is higher than the cost of an asphalt shingle or wood shake roof the added expenses of frequent reroofing with less durable roofing materials quickly tips the scales against these cheaper materials. DECRA metal roofs are virtually maintenance-free and we measure durability in multiple decades rather than years. That's why discerning homeowners who will settle for nothing but the best choose DECRA.