1. Composite shingles
Composite shingles are the most common material used on a timber frame roof, primarily because they are affordable and don’t require much maintenance, not to mention they come in a variety of colors and styles. The downside? Because they’re lightweight, they can blow off during high winds. Being so susceptible to nature’s forces also means composite shingles tend to have a shorter lifespan than other materials used on timber frame roofs.
2. Wood shakes
With wood shakes, a homeowner can choose from a variety of wood types, as well as the width and thickness of the shake. They provide good insulation while also allowing air circulation. As a natural material, however, wood shakes are vulnerable to rot, mildew, mold and insects. Routine maintenance, such as sealing, inspection and replacement, is required to keep a wood-shake timber frame roof in good shape.
A slate timber frame roof is made of slices of rock cut to the size of standard shingles. Like wood shakes, slate also has a natural appearance and comes in many sizes and colors. But slate is immune to damage caused by rot or insects, and it serves as good fire protection. Although it requires little maintenance, slate comes at a price. Because it is heavy, some homes require additional roof support, which can get pricey. Additionally, the slate slabs are breakable and should not be walked on by a nonprofessional, a potential problem in gutter-cleaning season.
Here is a copper rooftop on this timber house. Photo by James Ray Spahn.
Although the initial cost of metal roofing is comparatively high, it pays for itself in the long run, requires little to no maintenance and offers fire protection. As a light material, it can be installed directly over a pre-existing timber frame roof. It can also be made to resemble other roof shingles like wood shakes and composite shingles, and color requests are generally easy to accommodate. If you’re looking for a green option, metal roofing is often made from recycled materials and reflects heat away from the house, making it energy efficient as well.