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Composite Shake Roofing

Shakes (irregularly split shingles) made from wood have long been used as a roofing material prized for its natural, textured look, but these beautiful roofs are both expensive and high maintenance. Wooden shakes are subject to mold, mildew and insect problems. They are not fire resistant, so some areas of the country that are prone to forest fires have banned their installation. Recent technology has enabled manufacturers to create the look of shakes by mixing particles from postindustrial plastics with flax and hemp fibers that are heated and pressed into molds to produce shakes that duplicate the look of wood shakes but have none of their problems. When properly installed, composite shakes will provide a long lasting, durable, low maintenance roof.

If you are thinking of buying composite shake roofing, consider the following:

  • These composite shakes come in various styles that resemble cedar or weathered wood. They have a natural looking grain pattern. Variations in the shading of these shingles give them the random realistic appearance that makes them look natural. They can be installed with a uniform or offset exposure so that they have the depth and dimension of real wood.
  • Most composite shakes come in 5 and 7 inch widths, so a variety of roof patterns are possible. Starter course, hip, and ridge shakes are also available.
  • Composite shakes are easier to install than natural shakes. They can be attached with a pneumatic nail gun. They can also be hand nailed if that method is preferred.

If you live in an historic district or are hoping to take advantage of tax incentives for historic renovation, check with your state or local historical commission before using composite shake roofing to make sure that using a shake substitute is allowed.

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