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Historic wooden shingle roofs Maintenance

By The Old House Web
>>Introduction >>Roofing practices to avoid
>>History of wood shingles in America >>Maintenance
>>Historic detailing and replacing roofs >>Taking it further
>>Specifications for the replacement roof  

By Sharon C. Park, AIA

Regular maintenance will extend the life of a wood shingle roof.
-- Photo, copyright, The Old House Web

The purpose of regular or routine maintenance is to extend thelife of the roof.

  • The roof must be kept clean and inspected for damage both tothe shingles and to the flashing, sheathing, and gutters.
  • If the roof is to bewalked on, rubber soled shoes should be worn.
  • If there is a simple ridge, aladder can be hooked over the roof ridge to support and distribute the weight ofthe inspector.

Keeping the roof free of debris is important. This may involve only sweepingoff pine needles, leaves and branches as needed. It may involve trimmingoverhanging branches. Other aspects of maintenance, such as removal of moss andlichen buildup, are more difficult. While they may impart a certain charm toroofs, these moisture-trapping organisms will rot the shingles and shorten thelife of the roof. Buildups may need scraping and the residue removed withdiluted bleaching solutions (chlorine), although caution should be used forsurrounding materials and plants. Some roofers recommend power washing the roofsperiodically to remove the dead wood cells and accumulated debris. While thismakes the roof look relatively new, it can put a lot of water under shingles,and the high pressure may crack or otherwise damage them. The added water mayalso leach out applied coatings.

If the roof has been treated with a fungicide, stain, or revitalizing oil, itwill need to be re-coated every few years (usually every 4-5). The manufacturershould be consulted as to the effective life of the coating. With the expenseassociated with installation of wood shingles, it is best to extend the life ofthe roof as long as possible. One practical method is to order enough shinglesin the beginning to use for periodic repairs.

Periodic maintenance inspections of the roof may reveal loose or damagedshingles that can be selectively replaced before serious moisture damage occurs.Keeping the wooden shingles in good condition and repairing the roof, flashingand guttering, as needed, can add years of life to the roof.

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-- NPS Preservation Brief 19

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