Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let's talk wooden shingles...

I've always loved wooden shingles as a roofing material. Most probably because they were part of my environment growing up in Les Lindarets, a tiny alpine hamlet. Later, the modernistic Avoriaz ski resort adopted them, not just as roofing, but also as siding material, and that time they went for the luxury item, picking cedar shake shingles from British Columbia!

When I moved to America, I rediscovered that material in the East, used mostly as siding material and it's only when I arrived in Park City in the mid 80s that the material was at its peak, mostly used on all rooftops. We've owned two homes with that material and didn't have good experience with them. Since that time, the use of that rustic material has gone down.
Part of it is fire danger, but another reason it seems, is that the material fares poorly in Utah's extremely dry weather. After a while, the shingles bend, warp and twist on the sides most exposed to the elements and need to be replaced. The lack of humidity substantially weakens the wood and makes it vulnerable to drastic change in temperatures so the individual shingle loses its geometric shape and loses its functionality.

Warping might also be associated with the difference that exists between true shake shingles (split) that should last longer, but is more expensive, and the milled shingles that have lost their directional integrity and are free to bend back to any direction they want. That's too bad, because a shingle roof looks so rustic, organic and natural...

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