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May Homeowners in Kansas City are Replacing their wood shingle roofing systems with modern roofing material

Wood Shingle Roofing in Kansas City

When used in roof covering, wood can be either shakes or shingles. Wood shakes have been used for centuries and are split from logs.  A shake is a basic wooden shingle made from split logs. Often they are left as split to retain the textured, rough-hewn effect.   A wood shake is instantly recognizable by its thick butt end. Historically shingles were split from straight grained, knot free wood bolts. Now shingles are mostly cut, which distinguishes them from shakes because they are not ‘split’ out of a bolt.

With the advent of commercial sawmills a wood shake was often sawn after splitting to achieve a uniform back side. Sawmills produced a completely uniform product with an even taper and identical thickness by sawing shakes on both sides. This manufactured product is known as a wood shingle. 

Wood shakes and shingles are produced from California redwood, western red cedar, cypress, spruce and pine. Cedar is the most popular and southern yellow pine is the next preference. Wood shakes and shingles are sometimes pressure treated with fire retardants and chemical preservatives.

Distinctive shingle patterns are created by the size, shape, and application method used and usually vary from region to region. Special treatments such as swept valleys, combed ridges, decorative butt ends and decorative patterns give special character to buildings where they are used. Wood shingles can also be shaped by steam bending to create a thatch-like appearance, with unique roof details and contours.

Higher-grade shakes are typically used for roofing purposes, while the lower grades are used for siding. In either situation, properly installed shakes provide long-lasting weather protection and a rustic aesthetic, though they require more maintenance than some other more modern roofing materials.

Modern Wood Shingles

Modern wooden shingles differ from the historic ones and are generally thicker and usually left “undressed” with a rough, corrugated surface. The rough-surface shake is often considered to be more “rustic” but, in fact, this is a modern fashion. Modern shingles are often produced in pre-cut decorative patterns, sometimes called fancy-cut shingles, and are available pre-primed for later painting. The sides of rectangular shingles may be reworked so the sides are parallel and the butt is square to the sides, making them more uniform and installed more neatly.

Shingles are less durable than shakes, particularly in wet climates; shakes are finished leaving a smooth surface, that resists water penetration. This slows the softening of wood by microorganisms. The method of splitting shakes rather than sawing them ensures straight-grained pieces–which are much stronger and less likely to warp.

A typical cedar roof should last 20 to 40 years. Barring fire, tornadoes and other natural disasters, proper maintenance will extend the average lifespan of a wood roof.

Understanding the forces working against a roof is essential to preserving them. Sun, wind, rain and snow take a toll. The sun releases compounds within the wood that begin a slow process of degrading and weakening the wood. The constant cycle of wet and dry, freezing and thawing also alters the wood. Shakes swell with moisture and contract as they dry. Rain and wind can also carry small particles that stress the wood by gradually wearing the wood away and exposing areas of ‘new’ wood. This leaves the wood open to mold, mildew, fungi and other organisms, which degrade the shakes.

Of all of the elements working against the roof, lingering moisture is the worst. The faster and more completely a roof dries, the healthier it remains. Any moisture that lingers continues to promote the growth of those organisms. Tree leaves, pine needles and plant vegetation hold moisture longer and damage the shingles. Areas where the planes meet and form valleys are the most likely to retain plant debris.

Wood Shake Roofing is Beautiful but Expensive

A shake roof is a beautiful option but the high cost to initially install it and the amount of roof maintenance needed mean it is not an option for every home. Fortunately, there are new options on the market that can give you the feel of a cedar shake roof, without all of the required cedar maintenance. 

Cedar shakes and shingles do have one very clear advantage over other types of roofs.  Wind and impact resistance!  Both have been tested to withstand wind speeds of up to 245 miles per hour—which is extremely unlikely to see in almost any area in the world.  Asphalt and other types of shingles will blow off in high winds. Fallen branches from a windstorm are also much more likely to damage an asphalt shingle that a wooden one.


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In our unprecedented times, the words 'house' and 'home' have taken on new meaning. Kansas City homeowners are spending more time in their homes, and keeping your house and family safe are your highest priorities. When you comes to Kansas City roofing, our team know what is at stake. We expect you to do your homework on the best roofing materials, and that you will demand professional installation and exceptional service every step of the way. Our local Kansas City roofing experts are ready to serve you with professional roof installation with through our safe, tidy and thoughtful process.

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They did a great job! Very professional and kind. They did my gutters in 1 day and roof in 2 days. No complaints. I would highly recommend. They even got an extra $ 1000.0 from my insurance company. WOW!


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Rainscape Roofing was refreshingly professional with a quick turnaround time. I dreaded trying to figure out my storm damage. When I called them it was painless. I called 3 other companies without the same result. I highly recommend Rainscape Roofing!


Very professional service. Quick response and service. I am very pleased with the work done.


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