Caring For A Wood Roof

Wood shakes and shingles were once the few types of roofing systems that were available. Today, wood is still used as a roofing material; it is typically installed for aesthetic value. Nevertheless, wood does offer superior performance over asphalt in areas that are more prone to experiencing high winds and hailstorms. While wood is not the most durable roofing material, a wood roof can last long with proper maintenance and care. Middlesex County roofers can help local property owners care for their wood roof.

Most wood shingles and shakes are made from western red cedar wood, which has a straight grain, has a low density, is impenetrable to moisture and naturally resists decay. Redwood and cypress have similar characteristics and are sometimes used; however, these particular trees are decreasing in supply.

When maintaining a wood roof, it is important to remove all leaf litter, conifer needles and debris that may accumulate between shakes and shingles and along the valley of the roof structure. All debris and litter should preferably be removed before the wetter season arrives. If left to accumulate, debris may slow the shedding of water from the roof surface and allow harmful fungi to grow on the wood.

These rot-causing fungi require water; therefore, eliminating debris and keeping the surface of the roof drier will reduce the likelihood of fungus growth. Moss and lichens are also more capable of growing on a roof that remains wet. As a result, splits may develop in the wood and cause cupping and curling, which can ultimately lead to a leaking roof.

Nearby branches may also affect the lifespan of a wood roof. Overhanging branches should be trimmed as they may create shade that allows the surface of the roof to remain wet, facilitating fungus and plant growth. Branches should never be allowed to touch or rub against the roof’s surface as this contact may create grooves in the surface of the shingles or loosen the fasteners that hold the shingles in place. Furthermore, homes that are located in very woody areas are more prone to plant and fungus growth due to impeded airflow. If rot-inducing fungi and plants are growing on a homeowner’s roof, trimming or landscaping the surrounding vegetation may be necessary to allow better airflow and enable the roof to dry faster and more thoroughly.

Property owners who lack relevant training and experience should never attempt to perform maintenance tasks on their roof. In the interest of safety and ensuring that all maintenance and repair work is done properly, consumers should contact a licensed, knowledgeable roofing specialist. The roofers at Fortified Roofing of Middlesex County NJ can answer your questions regarding gutters or new roofs.

Term explained by the roofers at Fortified Roofing, Middlesex County NJ:


Lichens are composite organisms that are the result of a symbiotic relationship between two other organisms, typically green algae and a fungus. Lichens require sunlight and nutrition more than they need moisture; therefore, they may grow in drier settings.

Question and answer courtesy of the Middlesex County roofers from Fortified Roofing in NJ:

Can lichen growth be as damaging as fungal growth?

Yes; although lichens do not hold as much moisture as moss and fungi, they can cause damage in other ways. Lichens are acidic and have strands that may penetrate into a roof’s shingles. If growth is not substantial and other damage is not present, the lichen can be scraped from the roof’s surface, and an herbicide or other preventative treatment may be applied.

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