Updated: Jul 19
We recently moved to a heavily wooded area and our house is basically in the forest with many pine and maple trees all around. As we specialize in modern rustic home and garden design at ShizenStyle, I realized I wanted to find a perfect blend of contemporary and natural styles for our home but was in a somewhat unique situation in the wooded area so I needed to do some research.
So what type of roof is best for wooded areas? I have found that the best type of roof for wooded areas is metal roofing, preferably steel or aluminum. Wood shake shingles would probably be the runner up with a few other potentially good roofing materials depending on your situation.
In the rest of the article I will go into detail as to why I think these are the best two options, as well as product and installation cost and durability.
When we were first getting serious about moving and were looking at this particular new house in the woods, one concern that we had was with the roof. It was only 15 years old but was heavily covered in moss. I didn’t really think anything of it at the time, other than I loved the bright green natural looking rooftop, until the insurance company had some more detailed questions about it.
What I didn’t realize was that because it was in a predominantly shady area the moss was collecting quite quickly on top of the house. Moss needs a lot of moisture to survive, so basically the moss was adding a lot of extra weight because of all of the water retention. Even though it wasn’t a very old roof, long-term this did not seem like a sustainable option structurally.
The roof itself was a composite asphalt shingle roof, which is the most common type of roofing material found. It is very popular because of its low cost and easy installation, which can even be a DIY project for some skilled people. But this was not the best option for this particularly wooded area. Although they have a decent life expectancy of anywhere from 15 to 40 years, and some can last 50 years given the right conditions, this forested spot was not one of them.
From the beginning we realized we needed something more durable with all of the potential weather issues that we could have in the Northeast. We were looking for something that was both durable for the snow, long lasting, and could possibly withstand some branches falling on it.
Metal roofing, sometimes referred to as a standing seam metal roof, seems to be the best option for roofing material in a wooded area for a number of reasons. Some of the main reasons why steel or aluminum roofs are the best options are:
The strength and durability of metal roofing is something that really can’t be beat. I recommend steel or aluminum as they are both lightweight and rust-resistant, but are also more cost-efficient compared to other metals such as zinc or copper. One of our main concerns was with branches falling on top of the house so durability and strength were at the top of our list of necessary requirements in choosing a good roofing material.
Another reason we like metal roofing is they are basically maintenance-free. We may hose down each fall just to remove some of the fallen leaves, but other than that we really don’t need to worry about it. They say some colors can fade over time in the sun, but for us being in a predominantly shady area that is not really a concern, and paint technology has also come a long way.
The average lifespan of a metal roof is probably between 40 and 75 years, depending on your circumstances. You may need to check every once in awhile to make sure the sealants are still tight and none of the fasteners have come loose, which you may also notice if you have any water marks in the ceiling. However if installed correctly this is rarely an issue.
Cost in the Long Run
It is true that metal roofing does have a slightly higher price tag compared to asphalt or many other roofing options. You are looking at probably about $10 a square foot for steel or aluminum roof. But with the longer lifespan of this type of roofing material your replacement cost may not even exist. If you’re moving into a home with an existing metal roof you may never need to hassle with any roof issues.
Statistics on how often people move varies, with some putting it at around every 10 years now. But let’s say that you are thinking long-term and even a few stay there 30 or 40 years you may find that this could last double that well beyond your time there. That feeling of not ever having to really worry about it is another good reason we chose a metal roof. Of course things change and we don’t know where we will be in the future, but knowing that this is not going to surprise us with any sudden out of the pocket expenses was a good feeling.
Another reason we chose standing seam metal roof is because of the overall lightness that it has on the structure. We have an older house as well and were somewhat concerned with the added weight the original asphalt tiles were applying to the house. Metal roofing is a large steel panel that is laid down and overlapped with each other. The larger the pieces of metal that they can use the lighter overall it is. If you have many varying points then more pieces of metal will need to be cut and overlapped and that creates a little more weight.
So the more straight lines you have on your roof the easier the installation, the lower the cost, and the lighter overall the roof will be. It makes it perfect for modern farmhouse style homes.
The smooth surface of the material provides a natural resistance to many natural things like moss, mold, mildew, and bugs. Leaves also often build up Andrews in a wooded area and this creates more weight and a bedding for insect infestation. With a slippery or Surface, as opposed to most other roofs like asphalt that have rough surfaces, it’s much easier for many of these items to naturally slide off. You can also easily hose it down at the ends of fall removing all of the leaves that build up. This has greatly taking care of our issue with the moss building up on our home.
Wood Shake Shingles (cedar)
Another option for a roof in a wooded area is wood shake shingles. Shake shingles are a sticker type of wood compared to regular wood shingles leading to better durability. They can last 30 to 50 years, again depending on the circumstances. There is a little more upkeep that is needed to make sure debris like leaves and branches are removed from the roof more often. Moss can build up more quickly than compared to a metal roof.
Wood Shake shingles do however provide a very different look compared to metal roofing. In the end though we ruled this option out because of the upkeep and the lifespan. It also costs a little more for wood shake shingles, coming in at around $13 a square foot. So all-in-all, if this is more of the aesthetic look that you were going for then this may be the best option for you.
Here are a few more related questions that we had when we were researching the best roofing material for area with a lot of trees:
What is the most durable type of roof?
The most durable type of roof is usually made up of the most long-lasting roof material. a slate tile or concrete roof is going to be the most durable and far outperforms asphalt shingles the most common type of roofing material. However in our situation where our house was in a wooded area, we have found that metal roofing is the winner.
What type of roof is best for snow?
Again we have to go with steel and aluminum rooms as being the best roofing material for snow. a smooth surface allows a lot of the snow just slide off not retain the heavyweight of the snow on top of the house. Some roofing materials can include roof heaters, which melt the snow and ice that could potentially build up on the roof. You can also get snow shields that protect people underneath from having large chunks of snow fall on them.
Cement tiles and even solar panels are also great roofs to have in snowy areas. The problem we have with cement tiles is with the durability and possible branches falling on them and cracking in the woods. Solar panels can also mimic the slick surface that a metal roof has but when you’re in a wooded area there is very little efficiency in solar panels with all of the shade.
This was just our opinion on what type of roof is best for wooded areas based on research we did for our specific area in the Northeast. While thinking about roofing materials you may also be interested in some Modern Rustic Exterior Siding Options as well. We also felt that given our desire for a modern rustic aesthetic style that a metal roof would also compliment that. If you would like to explore some other contemporary and natural home and garden ideas please visit us at ShizenStyle.