Fire Resistant Shake Roofs

California Brush FireIn light of the recent California fires, homeowners are becoming more concerned about the combustibility of roofs that are composed entirely of wood cedar shingles. These types of roofs are often times mandated to be installed and maintained by homeowners who live in certain neighborhoods in order to protect the architectural integrity of the houses in the area.

Many homeowners however, are now realizing that they would rather be safe under asphalt or metal roofs than have their home burn down because their roof is clearly not up to fire codes. Thankfully, there are many different types of fire resistant shake roofs now available.

What to Do if you Have an Older Wooden Shake or Shingle Roof

Roofs get one of the following fireproof ratings: A, B, C, or not ratable. If the wooden shingles are twenty years or older and about one out of five shingles is damaged, then the shingles will fall into the category of not ratable and need to be replaced. Keeping shingles in this condition on a roof is a definite fire hazard and not even repairable. At this point, replacement of an existing shake or shingle roof is not an option.

There are many services that will clean, repair and spray fire-resistant chemicals on a roof in this condition, but it is not wise to take this kind of action. There are no fire marshals or recognized building code agencies that will endorse this type of chemical treatment as being affective fireproofing and will still rate your roof as a C fire hazard or below. The only way to protect you home and avoid possible fines is to completely replace the shingles on your roof.

Cedar Shingles Much Safer Now

Replacing wooden shingles is not as expensive or difficult as it used to be. A moderately skilled do-it-yourselfer can have the project completed in a weekend with the help of some friends. As well, if you or your homeowner’s association is really insistent on having wooden shakes or shingles on the roof, there’s good news about the fire rating of newly manufactured wooden shingles.

Cedar shingles are now placed in pressure treatment cylinders where fire retardants are injected into the inner cells of the wood. The shingles then go through a polymerization process and the fire retardants are locked into the wood. Testing has shown that the treatment is permanent and many of the shingles receive an A rating.

Synthetic Alternatives to Wooden Shingles

If you aren’t still convinced about the safety of wooden shingles, there are many alternatives. The most common types of alternative roofing materials for residential structures are asphalt shingles, metal roofs, tiles, slate and composite coverings. Many of these kinds of coverings mimic the look of real wooden shingles, but provide much better fire protection, especially in the widespread wild fires that can occur in the western part of the United States.

None of these products look exactly like the real thing, but many homeowners have agreed that they do look like genuine wood when viewed from the street and are close enough in color and texture to blend in with the other houses in the neighbor hood.

Synthetic or composite roofs like these last longer, require much less maintenance and almost totally fire resistant. So, while the cedar shingles have vastly improved and are still nicer looking, the safest roofs by far are going to be synthetic.