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Wood shake roof


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These are photos from my afternoon gig. The shakes are cracked, uplifted, exceedingly soft, and they've had organic material--replete with tiny red flowers--growing within them. I told the realtor--who's ethical--that the roof(which is alleged to be thirty-five years old)was pretty well shot. She said the seller had a roofer check out the shakes before the house was listed and that he said it was just fine.

I asked if fine meant that it wasn't leaking presently, or if it would last another five years, and she didn't know.

I only see one or two shake roofs a year and wondered what youse guys thought of this thing. I told my client my experience with wood roofs was limited and to call someone I trust for a more precise assessment.

But really, look at this thing. Isn't it pretty much toast? I was able to scrape damp, wicked-soft fibers off of several shingles with my fingernail.

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John,

I look a lot of shake roofs and they can look pretty good from a distance or with a quick glance. It's when you slow down and really take some time to evaluate that you'll get a better idea of what's going on. Either a very good pair of binoculars and/or getting up to the gutters on the ladder at various locations will tell you what you need to know.

Moss/algae certainly are bad news for wood not not necessarily a death sentence. Splitting, softness, warpage, poor overlap, decay all are excellent indicators. From your pics I'd agree with you. Don't let the contractor who says its ok deter you from your opinion. My guess is that he doesn't want the job and is blowing off the client by saying roof is ok. It is simply not reasonable to expect someone to buy a home with a roof in that condition and as you probably know, shake roofs cost A LOT ON MONEY.

Many people consider a leak as one that's dripping through their ceiling. To me a leak is one thats gotten through the roof covering. If it's getting to the decking it's a leak.

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Steven,

Not knowing and having the strictest regard for the truth, I hesitate to articulate on a question so momentous to my dubious comprehension.

But, if you don't have an adequate supply of Oreos there's no fun in the smokin.

I'm betting the pig likes the smoking even less than the smoker who is also the responder to the question that you, Steven , asked.

I remember when Kennedy was president...well, no I don't, but I do remember hearing about the bay of pigs.

What the hell is a bay of pigs anyway? All I can say is it must smell bad because we have a pig farm near here and the pigs smell terrible as they squeal their way along the ...

what was the question?

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I concur, Shot.

And if they think it aint shot, shoot it a few times. Then it'll leak for sure.

That e'll learn em.

Thread shift,

Hey, let's see some pics of this smokehouse Chad.

I've been dreamin of building a smokehouse, soon as my scuba diving starts turnin up a few more fish & their friends then is has been... Which isn't much.

Hell I've got the maple & hickory growin like weeds all over the place here. Currently just feeding them to the wood stove & smoker/grill.

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Alright, I'm going to disagree. Somebody's got to do it.

I really can't see much of the shake through all that algae and moss but what I do see is very little curl and very little splitting.

The edges of the shake that are visible are thick and clean--no rot or deterioration.

35 years is a lot, but what if this stuff is some of that precious, true old-growth heart wood stuff? 50 years is expected life on that stuff, no?

I think a proper cleaning and treatment of that roof would amaze everyone.

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Hi Randy,

My eyes probably aren't as good as yours, but under all of that moss I think I'm seeing some butt rot - a lot of it. John, scratching off a little bit of shake surface doesn't mean a whole lot. They're generally pretty soft, even when they're dry. What's important is how much rot you've got. Were the top outside edges of all of those shakes a sharp corner or were the center of the butts rotting in a semi-circular pattern.

Randy, I agree, some parts of the country probably can get 50 years, but I doubt they can get that in Kentucky.

Could be wrong though. Have been....many times.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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On the right is the rear of the smokehouse.

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Pretty much the same view before I built the rear entry

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End view of smokehouse

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Nice old hardware on smokehouse door.

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I'll be installing a nice new three tab asphalt shingle roof on the smokehouse next summer. I'll use some aluminum drip edge and wrap all the trim in aluminum too.

Just kidding... it'll get some nice new cedar shingles and I make cool copper cap shingles to top it off.

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Two thoughts and/or questions......

1) I can't tell a whole about a shake roof from a photo, but I'm going to come down more on the side of Randy than "shot".

Depending on a wide range of variables, that roof could have a fair amount of life left in it. Maybe some butt rot, but when did butt rot start meaning the roof is totally shot? Butt rot is an indicator, but only one indicator.

Same w/lichen; not good, but it doesn't mean it's dead either. Clean it off, then see what it looks like.

Those valleys look like copper; if there are similar fine flashing details throughout, that by itself would make me think the roof had some life.

The ability to scrape moist wood fibers off w/a fingernail doesn't necessarily damn the thing either.

I'll let those on site to hold sway, but honestly, it looks like it needs cleaning & some repair, and it could last a heck of a long time.

2) How do Moderators split a thread off again? I think we need to have a further discussion of smokehouses, the fine points of particular hardwoods for smoking (personally, I'm a become a huge fan of cherry), and any hints on spice rubs folks favor.

On a side note, it's getting cold enough to make me get into my sausage making mindset. This year, I'm going to try another attempt @ a pressed soppressatta.

Anyone else make sausage? (Please, no obvious sausage jokes; sausage making is serious business......)

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Hi Kurt,

You have to split it before it gets back on-topic. What you could do, is start another thread about smokehouses and then those who've posted could come on here, copy what they've posted so far, delete it, and re-post it to your smokehouse thread.

The problem with the roof is the cost of getting it properly cleaned and then the rotten shakes removed and replaced. If the roof has 20 to 25% butt rot, the cost is prohibitive. It makes more sense to install a new roof at that point because you'll spend that much or more every successive year until you finally bite the bullet and replace the cover.

If a shake roof is properly maintained from day one, it will last indefinitely - well, at least as long as they continue to make shakes. However, it's rare that I find a roof that's been properly maintained. Most folks around here think that 'maintenance' means paying some jackass with a pressure-washer $200 to $250 bucks to go up there, remove a few years service life from the cover by using high pressure, punch a bunch of holes clean through the cover and the felts, and then spray some rust-colored dye onto the roof to make it look great from the ground. When I inspect those, I typically find more damage than if they'd left the cover alone. I frequently have to recommend that freshly "maintained" shake roofs be torn off and replaced.

Proper shake maintenance means getting up on the roof every year, finding all broken, missing, rotting shakes, removing them and installing new ones. When you remove one rotten butt, you also have to remove the two that are side-by-side beneath it, because the rot will have spread into those. Proper cleaning means either mechanically cleaning the cover with a soft-bristled broom or brush and a blower, then treating all algae, moss, and lichen with a chemical to kill it and rinsing it off the cover. Proper sealing means using a real shake oil preservative, not dye.

Around here, we have roof cleaning companies and real roof maintenance companies. The roof cleaning dudes, with few exceptions, have the collective IQ of a grape. If I had my way, there'd be a hunting season wherein home inspector could bag their limit of these horrible creatures every year before they do too much damage. Most are a pimple on the butt of society.

The true roof maintenance companies are different. They'll use high volume low pressure methods to clean the cover. It takes longer but it doesn't damage the shakes. They'll use real shake preservative. They guaranty their work and longevity of the cover, based on the condition of the cover when they're first called to look at it. They'll tell the homeowner when cost of maintenance over the next few years is going to exceed what it will cost to replace the entire cover now. They're expensive - about $1500 to properly bring back the cover over a 1200 sf bungalow; $2500 to $3000 to do the cover on a 3600 sf home.

I know of a home in Seattle that had the original shake cover from 1957 when I inspected it in 2001. It was in excellent condition and had been lovingly maintained by its homeowner, who'd built the house originally. He'd been using reputable shake maintenance companies for nearly half a century. He figured that he spent about $900 to a $1000 annually on maintenance in the late 1990's but it had been less years before. Cost probably equalled cost to have completely replaced that roof 3 times. In this climate, if he hadn't done the maintenance, he probably would have had to replace it 3 times anyway over that period, but he'd never had to deal with the inconvenience or mess or roof leaks or mess (and there is one hell of a mess when they tear off and replace a shake roof) of a full tear off and replacement.

John's roof has been sorely neglected to have that much fungal growth on it. The cover will be rife with incipient rot spore. Cleaning it and trying to fix it piecemeal at this point will be like peeing into a strong wind.

My opinion - worth the price charged, I suppose.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Fair enough, although you don't have to shout......[:-apple]

It just didn't look that bad from the photos; lots of lichen, but so...?

Incipient rot? Is something shot because it's in the nascent or initial stages of decay? I don't think so. If that was the case, I'm shot......

I'm absolutely not in the school of "is it leaking?", nor am I a fan of predicting how long a roof will last. You know that. But, just because a roof is in the incipient (I like that word) stages of decay doesn't mean it's shot, does it?

Again, if I was on site & could get up and poke @ it, and then also get in the attic to see what was going on, I'd have something real to base my opinion on. From the photo, it just doesn't look all that bad. Looks old, looks pretty mossy, but shot?

What does "shot" mean, anyway?

OK. Nuff said......

I get the idea about maintenance costing as much or more than a new roof, but where does environmental concern come in? Roof maintenance hasn't been, isn't now, and probably won't ever be something most folks consider, but isn't it a better idea to maintain a roof than cutting down more (already functionally extinct) Western Red Cedar forest so someone can have a fresh roof?

(If I can't win the roof argument, at least I can try to make you feel guilty about cutting down trees, right?[:-dev3])

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Sorry, missed one of the HTML tags. It's fixed.

Nah, shakes are coming from tree lots now. If you drive around up here and look at the size and age of some of the trees, and look at some of the turn-of-the-20th-century photos of the region, it quickly becomes apparent that trees grow really fast here and that proper forest management works.

Did you know that Georgia Pacific owns several hundred linear miles of Mississippi river frontage in sustainable forests where there are more trees there now than there was a 100 years ago and growth outstrips demand?

If everyone could get on board at the same time, we'd probably be overrun with forests in 50 years.

Nah, I think we're in good shape, it's south America and the rain forests down there that are hurting.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by randynavarro

Alright, I'm going to disagree. Somebody's got to do it.

I really can't see much of the shake through all that algae and moss but what I do see is very little curl and very little splitting.

The edges of the shake that are visible are thick and clean--no rot or deterioration.

35 years is a lot, but what if this stuff is some of that precious, true old-growth heart wood stuff? 50 years is expected life on that stuff, no?

I think a proper cleaning and treatment of that roof would amaze everyone.

I agree.

While it's possible that the roof in John's pictures is shot, there's nothing in the pictures to indicate that.

John, in the future, when you inspect a shake roof, the area to focus on is the condition of the portion of the shake that's visible in the keyway -- the space between the shakes. The thinnest exposed portion of each shake is the part at the keyway. That's where a shake roof fails. When you can see felt there, it's a serious problem.

Moss, lichen, minor splitting and, yes, even butt rot, are minor distractions. Look at the keyways.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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The keyways were actually in pretty good condition. The splits, I suppose, are what seemed the most egregious shortcomings.

Thanks for the help, everyone. I'll be better at this next time.

As for cleaning and maintaining a shake roof? I'd be very surprised if anyone in my area would have the first clue.

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