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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cottage Renovation: Cedar Shake Roof vs Asphalt Roof

Our little cottage, with photo-shopped cedar roof -- hah! wish it were so easy!

It's been a while since I posted about our little cottage on the Northfork of Long Island, NY. But that doesn't mean nothing's been going on there. We do try to make at least one improvement each year, depending on the Renov8or budget. 

We knew last year that the roof was starting to go. When we engaged a carpenter to build us a shed out back, he pointed out the wear and tear to our roof and said that ought to be our next project. The asphalt shingles were peeling in places and it was starting to sag in spots over the porch. At that point we had to make a decision - shed or roof - we couldn't afford to do both. We already had the shed plans drawn up and in our imaginations the thing was already built, so we went with the shed. 

It could have been a risky move if we'd had another "Sandy". But luckily no bad Nor'Easters came our way, and when we opened up in spring the cottage was snug and dry. However, we knew better than to press our luck another season, so as summer waned this year, we sought roofing bids from three contractors -- two we had worked with before and a new guy Arthur, who had just done some work for our neighbors. We had all three give us two estimates -- one on replacing the existing asphalt roof with a like product and another if we chose to go with cedar shakes.

I'm sure you already know which one this Renov8or wanted!

Asphalt is cheap and it lasts a long time. Wood is expensive in both materials and labor, but it does last as well. In the end, its really a matter of what you can afford, what your goals are for your property -- and what you want to look at every time you drive by. 

Throughout the summer I had started to really pay attention to cottage roofs on my morning bike ride through Orient Town. And cedar tile roofs really make a difference -- and not just on the grand victorians and Queen Annes. Every design decision is more important on a small cottage like ours. 

Sadly, I did not do the good blogger thing and jump off my bike with iphone in hand to snap some photos for you. But here are some favorites courtesy of Houzz that will give you an idea of what I'm talking about.

Cedar shakes give a small cottage a fairy tale feeling:

Cedar shake siding and roof - Charming!
Cedar shakes are especially nice on a small house when the siding and roof match and the trim really pops. White cedar shakes weather gray over time, which looks totally charming with white trim:

For a little while, we may have a mixed situation such as this, where the newer shakes are still tan but the older shakes have weathered gray:

Because if you recall, a few years back we replaced the vinyl siding on our cottage with white cedar shakes. It made a world of difference. Those shakes are just starting to weather now behind the bushes and along the foundation. In fact, the cottage is really coming along, as you can see from this side by side where I have photo-shopped a shake roof on the left (okay, the pitch is a bit off): 

Here's how the cottage looked the day we bought it:

So, the bids came in from the contractors a few weeks ago, and they were roughly similar. The two guys we've used in the past are both busy this fall, so we're going with Arthur, the new guy who did some great work for our neighbors. He paid us a visit last week and we talked through the materials and the plan.

And even though the cedar shake roof came in twice as high as the asphalt, we're going with the shingles. Arthur says it will last us a good 30 years -- which brings us to about age 80. If we're still alive and kicking, I think we'll not be regretting the joy we feel every time we look at our little beach cottage.