There are hundreds of different ways of finishing off the roof of a house. From slate or terracotta tiles to thatch, zinc, or even 'green' roofs that resemble a meadow, and a host of others, including 'shingles' in a wide range of materials. Each one has its appeal, as well as its pros and cons, and some are more popular than others. In the past, the major factors in deciding on a roofing material were cost and availability. And while this is still generally the case, home buyers and owners are increasingly opting for more interesting alternatives in their choice of roofing. In recent times, cedar shingles have enjoyed a surge in popularity. In this article, we'll look into this trend and find out more about why this traditional roofing method is suddenly appealing to so many people as a viable alternative.
Firstly, some help with terminology: a shingle is defined as 'a thin, flat tile made of wood, slate, etc. that is fixed in rows to make a roof or wall covering'.
Some people use the terms 'shingle' and 'tile' interchangeably. but there are differences. Shingles tend to be tapered to allow a tight-fitting, weatherproof pattern.
You may also come across the word 'shakes', which refers to a different type of wooden shingle. Shakes are historically older than shingles and are usually hand-split from a 'bolt' (a specially-prepared log without knots and with a straight grain). Shingles are generally sawn into shape and trimmed to remove rough edges.
Wooden shingles have been used as a roofing material across various parts of the world for hundreds of years, without really ever disappearing completely, and cedar shingles, in particular, have proved their worth. Here are a few facts that illustrate why this is:
Cedar shingles can often be found in two types: certigrade and blue label. The certigrade shingles are regarded as the standard type but are still seen as a high-quality product. They are available in a range of patterns and shapes, as well as having optional treatments (flame-retardant coating or extra wood preservative). Blue label shingles are of the highest quality, guaranteed to be cut from the heartwood, have no knots, and to be 'edge grain'. This last aspect means that they have been cut radially from the log, providing increased resistance to shrinkage and weathering.
You will sometimes also see wooden shingles separated into other grades:
For those with concerns about the use of timber, there are various organisations who monitor the logging and production, providing certification for sustainable sources of timber. Cedar, and western red cedar specifically, is managed and monitored well to ensure an environmentally friendly resource.
As an alternative to cedar, larch is also popular in many places (especially the UK) and shares many of its qualities. However, it is harder and less durable, so more prone to shifting.
In theory, yes. Installation is regarded as a specialist job and ideally should be left to the experts, but with the right tools and some patience, you should be able to manage it.
Guide to fitting cedar shingles
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