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Wood Shingle Roof: Repair or Replace?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Roofing’s on the mind of Arthur in Florida. What can we do for you?

    ARTHUR: Well, my wife and I are in the process of purchasing a 1973 home that has a wood shingle roof. It’s gone through the recent hurricanes we’ve had here in 2004 and 2005 with only minor repair. But we were wondering what we should be aware of; in effect, the pros and cons of the roof as it ages.

    LESLIE: How old is the roof now?

    ARTHUR: It was in 1973 so it’d be about 34 years old

    LESLIE: Oh, it’s original to the house?

    ARTHUR: Yes.

    LESLIE: So Tom, do you think that there’s any sort of wear and tear that’s already occurred; especially since the wood is so old? We’re probably dealing with some rot.

    TOM: Well, it’s possible. I mean some of the wood roofs can last a long time if they’re put on properly, Arthur. Generally it has to do with how ventilation they get. If they’re put on and they vent well so that they can dry out, then they can last a long time. My feeling, though, is once a wood roof fails, it’s probably not worth replacing. Because I think you’re going to get …

    LESLIE: Worth repairing.

    TOM: Well, I – I mean, maybe minor repairs but when it’s completely failed, it’s not worth putting a second wood roof on; in other words, taking that off and …

    ARTHUR: Right.

    TOM: … replacing it with a wood roof. I would suggest to you that in the last 30 years the technology with asphalt shingles has gotten so much better that you can realistically put in an asphalt shingle roof that gives the appearance of being a dimensional roof. It can look like wood shakes or shingles or even a tile roof if it’s installed correctly.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Well and even with being in Florida, Arthur, you should be looking for something that can withstand high winds. And is it Owens Corning that makes a high-wind roof shingle?

    TOM: Yeah, that’s a good point because it needs to be able to stand up to high winds and the high wind shingles take winds of, I think, up to 100 miles an hour.

    ARTHUR: Well, the architectural shingles did do as well down here as the metal roofs did, so …

    TOM: Well, the metal roofs are always going to do well.

    ARTHUR: But this one took very little repair on the – and it was inspected by a company before we offered to purchase the house and they said it was in great shape. So, they had about 50 fewer shingles that had – they were a little bit warped. But the rest of the roof was absolutely just intact.

    TOM: Well, if it’s minor maintenance like that, I’d tell you to continue to do that. But if the roof ever gets to the point where it was severely damaged or it really is wearing out and starting to add into a lot of maintenance costs on a year by year basis, I wouldn’t recommend replacing it with a wood roof. At that point I would go with an asphalt shingle roof.

    ARTHUR: OK. Do you have any guesses on how long a wood shingle roof like that would last if it’s put on well?

    TOM: If it’s put on well, I’d say 15 years. Maybe 20.

    LESLIE: So you’re well beyond that.

    TOM: Yeah.

    ARTHUR: We are.

    TOM: So that roof doesn’t owe you a dime, Art. (Leslie and Arthur laugh) Alright?

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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