Functionally, the main purpose of the outer layer of a roof is to protect the house from rain and snow. Many different materials can be used to accomplish this, with varying durability, cost, and aesthetic appeal. Below we have outlined some of the more common choices of roofing material for a log home along with their benefits, costs, and of course some example log home photos.
Wood Shake or Shingle
A wooden shake is a roof covering made from a split bolt of wood, while a shingle is made from a sawn bolt. They are typically made from Western red cedar due to its resistance to decay. Although cedar shakes or shingles have a fitting aesthetic for a log home, regions with significant rainfall can promote moss or mildew growth and the sun can crack the wood. People commonly use pressure treated shakes, but for shakes not pressure treated, a preservative should be applied every few years to maintain the roof. More important is to be sure to keep your roof clear of debris, such as pine needles and leaves. Cedar shakes can cost about $200 per square (100 square feet), and installation costs will be higher than asphalt shingles.
The most common roofing material for residential construction in the United States is the asphalt shingle. Also known as 3-tab shingles, they are constructed of fiberglass coated with (or paper saturated with) asphalt and are the least expensive roofing available, with material cost around $60-$70 per square. Despite their low cost, they provide excellent protection for their serviceable live. Typical manufacturers’ warranties are 25 years long. The asphalt is softened by heat then washed away by rain, so these shingles last longest in cool climates or hot climates with little rain.
Architectural shingles are an increasingly popular type of asphalt shingle. They are a two-layer fiberglass/asphalt shingle bonded together with an asphalt sealant. This gives the shingle more depth and texture than a simple asphalt shingle, evoking a wooden shingle with less maintenance hassle. These shingles cost 20-40% more than a simple 3-tab shingle, but have the same installation costs since they are installed in the same manner as 3-tab shingles. Warranties are sometime offered for extended periods of time and sometimes a lifetime warranty is available.
Metal roofing is very durable compared to other roofing options. Although steel roofing eventually requires recoating to prevent corrosion, it can take 30 to 50 years before such action is necessary. Warranties are also typically for 50 years. Modern metal roofs can utilize reflective pigments, which reflect the majority of the light from the sun and lead to lower summer cooling costs. The material cost of metal roofs average $500 per square, but the low maintenance and longevity of the roof adds to the resale value of the log home.
Among metal roofs, copper could be considered the king. It develops a beautiful green patina over time, and a copper roof can last hundreds of years. Any small leaks that might eventually develop can be easily fixed with solder. Costs are very high, with the material alone running around $1000 per square, but the copper is fully recyclable in the unlikely event that someone ever needs to replace the roof.
We hope this overview of the various roofing options has inspired you. Is there a look you find the most attractive? Does one just make the most sense for your dream log home? Please leave us a comment and let us know. And, if you’d like to speak with someone about any of these options or the homes we featured, please don’t hesitate to contact Real Log Homes.