Shake Roof Installation the Sustainable Way Shake Roof Installation the Sustainable Way

What You'll Need
Felt underlayment (30 lbs)
Roofing nails
Cedar shake
Tape measure
Sheathing wood (1x6)
Hammer
Safety harness or rope
Hard hat
Ladder or scaffolding

Shake roofs are popular with homeowners who want to add an aged or rustic look to their house without the dangers of actually having an old roof. The majority of shakes are made from cedar, although some are pine and either kind is cheaper than asphalt shingles. Installing a shake roof is easy to do correctly, and when done right will last as long as traditional asphalt and sometimes longer.

Step 1 –Inspect or Install Sheathing

To properly ventilate wood shake, it should be installed over a series of 1x6 boards; this is called open sheathing. Your roof should already have this plywood deck installed, but if not, or if the plywood needs repairing, you will need to have it replaced before proceeding. Its important to have a healthy roofing deck because wood shakes are heavy and need the proper support.

Step 2 – Nail Down Felt

Roofing felt, or tar paper, has to be installed between the shake and the deck to keep out moisture and prevent rot. It should be placed across the whole roof area, in dry conditions only, and flattened down as you go. Make sure the felt is completely flat and tight as you nail it down, or else you will end up with a bumpy roof.

Step 3 – Lay Shakes

Wood shake needs a little distance from its neighbor so that when it gets wet, it can expand without cracking. The safest amount of separation is from1/4 to 1/2 of an inch. At the bottom, the shake should be placed about an inch overhanging the edge of the roof so that precipitation can easily run off. As you go along in a row, face the end of the shake that’s the thickest downwards and secure it with roofing nails.

To avoid exposed nails, which will rust over time, place the nail 1/4 of an inch from the top and 1/2 an inch from where the next shingle will be placed over it. After laying the first row of shakes, place another one overlapping the previous row and continue, using the manufacturer’s directions for how to properly overlap.

Step 4 – Apply Ridge Caps

Once you’ve laid all the wood shakes and are at the roof peak, it’s time to install the ridge caps. Ridge caps act as a seal to prevent water from getting into the house or rotting the wood underneath. You can either buy pre-made ridge caps, which come in all colors and textures so they will look like the rest of your roof, or make them.

Whichever method you choose, make sure that an equal amount of ridge cap or shake covers each side of the roof, and nail it down. Since you will have exposed nails on your ridge cap, placing tar over each head will prevent rusting.

Step 5 - Check Roof

When you've nailed in the last ridge cap, give your roof a quick inspection to make sure there's no bumpiness from improper felt installation and that all the shakes look sturdy and evenly placed. When you're satisfied, you can put up your tools and go relax.

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