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The Story Of Wood Shake

Thursday, January 19th, 2017 by Amanda Mayes


The Story Of Wood Shake - Image 1

Wood shake refers to a wood roofing material created by splitting thin individual rectangles from a log.  Wood shake is similar to wood shingle, because both are wedge shaped and are affixed individually to an underdeck.  Shingles are tapered by sawing, whereas shake is not, so the end result of a wood shake roof is highly textured by comparison.  In the Americas, wood roofing was common from the early days of the colonies, due to the abundance of suitable forests.

The Story Of Wood Shake - Image 2

Wood Shake involved riving individual rectangles from a log.  The individual wedge shaped pieces are generally called "wood shake" today, but at one time the materials used were referred to as shingle rather than shake. (Park, 1989)  Practices varied somewhat by region, depending on craft traditions of the local builders and the most common species of trees.  Wood shakes were usually split from the most appropriate wood that was regionally available, such as cypress, cedar, pine, redwood, or oak. (Vogel, Karamanski, Irvine, & Taylor, 1986)

Originally, wood roofing was hand hewn, until the steam powered saw and other innovations introduced in the early 1800's enabled the mass production of uniform shingles. (Staveteig & Sandor, 2001)  These technological advances made classic architectural styles such as Carpenter Gothic and Queen Anne both more feasible and more popular. Many of the other styles that followed incorporated wood shingle or shake roofs as well, including the Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival styles popular in the 1900s, and Shingle style, the first truly American architectural style, which incorporated wood shingles on the roof and all facets of the exterior.  Traditionally, wood shake has been available in a wide variety of colors.

In early colonial history, wood roofs were generally allowed to weather to a natural silver grey or brown.  Later, it became common to preserve the wood by coating it with pine tar, boiled linseed oil, or fish oil, which effectively darkened the natural wood.  By the mid-1700s, it was popular to combine pigments into the coating to produce red and the red-toned "Spanish brown."  Eventually, other colors such as yellow, brown, brown-green, and grey were produced.  A green tint even became common with Greek Revival and other styles. (Staveteug & Sandor, 2001)

Many historical architectural styles incorporate wood roofs, whether shingle or shake.  Colonial, Queen Anne, and Stick style normally feature wood shake or shingle roofs. And of course, wood shake or shingle are featured on modern adaptations of traditional styles that remain popular today, including Tudor Revival, Cape Cod, Colonial Revival, and Craftsman bungalow style.  Even the low roofs of Prairie style homes are generally roofed with wood shake in keeping with the craftsmanship and horizontal lines indicative of the style.  Today's casual home styles pair particularly well with wood shake.  On ranch homes, the rough texture of a wood shake profile balances the home by drawing the eye to the gently pitched roof.

On the prominent roof of a Country French or a cottage style home, wood shake adds a cozy element to the exterior.

A dark wood shake can also convey a "lodge" feel with log, stone, or wood siding.  Adaptable wood shake pairs well with brick, stone, stucco, or clapboard.  When applied in silver-grey or soft brown - colors that echo the natural weathering that wood develops over time - wood shake blends the home into the landscape.  Reds and reddish browns lend a historical elegance, while other shades of brown and grey coordinate the roof with the home's exterior and the envoronment.

Wood shake adds a warm and natural look to the home.  Home designers incorporate wood shake on traditional homes as a means to add texture and appeal.

The classic beauty and charm of wood shake add an element of weathered age to the home's exterior.  The varying heights of the individual shakes set a home apart from the norm, communicating a carpenter style that is both warm and rustic.  The hand-crafted look contributes to the storybook character of a cottage style home.  As an exterior design element, wood shake's custom crafted appearance makes a home unique.

The uneven texture of wood shake emphasizes the horizontal lines of the roof, punching up the impact of a low pitched roof or adding interest to a long sloping roof. Particularly in leafy areas on a breezy day, the texture of wood shake allows a play of shadows across the roof, which further integrates the home's exterior with the environment.

The Story Of Wood Shake - Image 3

Precision Roofing Services offers Matterhorn Metal Roofing materials in Shake in several colors.  If you would like to see sample of Metal Shake, contact us today and set up an appointment with one of our professional roof consultants.  The appointment and quote are FREE!  www.precisionroofingmi.com

 

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