If it's time to re-shingle your roof and you're thinking of doing something a bit different, you might be considering going with wooden shingles rather than with standard asphalt shingles. Wood shingles (which are typically made from cedar) have their benefits, but so do asphalt shingles. To help you make an informed decision, here's a look at which shingle choice excels in each area.
Cost: Asphalt prevails.
If you're on a tight budget, you may be best off sticking to asphalt shingles as they are the more affordable choice. Asphalt shingles typically cost between $1 and $4 per square foot (including installation), which means for the average ranch-style home, you can expect to pay between $1,700 and $8,400 for a new asphalt shingle roof. Wood shingles, on the other hand, cost between $4 and $7 per square foot, which equates to between $6,800 and $14,700 for the average ranch-style home.
Lifespan: Wood prevails (usually).
The average wood shingle roof will last about 30 years or even longer if your weather conditions are mild. Standard asphalt shingles have a life expectancy of about 20 years. You can find more durable, specialty asphalt shingles that will last up to 50 years, but they come at a pretty high cost. If you want to prolong your next roof replacement, wood is a viable option -- especially if you live in a mild climate with minimal snow and rain. Cedar, the wood used for most wooden shingles, is naturally resistant to rot and cracking, which is why it has such a long lifespan. Asphalt shingles tend to dry out and start crumbling; this is their usual downfall.
Appearance: Wood prevails.
Obviously, appearance is somewhat a matter of opinion. However, most homeowners agree that a wood roof looks more natural and unique. It will help call more attention to your home, increasing tour curb appeal and setting your home apart from the neighbors' homes that are all capped with standard asphalt shingles. However, if you have a traditionally styled home, such as a Victorian or Craftsman home, wooden shingles will look right in place, whereas asphalt shingles would look too modern compared to the rest of the home's exterior.
Fire Resistance: Asphalt prevails.
If you don't live in an area where forest fires are an issue, then you should really not have to worry about the fact that cedar roofing is more flammable. The roof is not just going to catch fire randomly, and the chance that a neighbor's roof will catch fire and pass that fire onto your wooden roof is pretty low. However, if you live in an area where forest fires are a concern, you should steer clear of a wooden roof because a nearby fire will spread to it quite easily. Asphalt is less flammable, particularly if you choose shingles that are specifically made to be fire-resistant.
Maintenance: It's a tie!
Neither of these roofing choices are particularly low-maintenance. Both require some care to keep them functioning properly. With either roofing option, you'll have to keep an eye out for missing shingles and have them replaced if you spot any. While cedar is naturally mold and algae resistant when it's new, it will grow mold and algae once it is a few years old -- and so will asphalt. If you live in a wet, shady area, both roofs may require spraying to prevent mold and algae growth. In dryer climates, this is not typically necessary.
Are wood or asphalt shingles better for your home? It really depends which factors are most important to you. If you are looking or a low-cost, fire-resistant roof, asphalt may be perfect. On the other hand, if it's most important to you that your roof lasts a long time and is attractive, wood might be the better option.
For more information and options, talk with a roofing contractor in your area, such as those at Davis & Winslow Roofing.