Q & A - Woodruf Masonite Panels

November 20, 2015 at 12:00 a.m.

I'm replacing my roof, but no one can identify what is currently on my roof...

Failed Roofing materials can be very frustrating for a homeowner to deal with. Here is the email AskARoofer.com received this week, asking for some help identifying it.

“I have a roof that no one can identify. A claims assessor told me that the shingles are particle board that’s been treated. The shingles are about 3 feet long and look like a shake. They are about a quarter of an inch thick because they are starting to delaminate. The also have a metal rib between each shingle. The assessor told me that they are for water drainage. He and his coworker could not identify them. Also the company that I’m looking at replacing my roof doesn’t know what it is. A neighbor thought that they are an imitation shake from about 20 years ago. Please help. I’m trying to replace it and I would like to know if this was a high end shingle and roof. Thanks.”

It has been a while since I have seen this type of roof. I believe it was called Woodruff Masonite Panels. It was intended to be installed over felt and attached to a solid deck with a minimum of 4 in 12 pitch. The nailing schedule was 8 nails into the headlap and through the sheathing. The panels were 12 inches tall by 4 feet long and about 7/16th of an inch thick. This product was designed and sold as a shake replacement. It was pressed wood fibers bonded together with a slight shake profile. Because the product only has a 3-inch headlap the need for a flashing strip between the key-ways was required to keep moisture from entering on to the systems underlayment. Many of these roofing systems were incorrectly installed by a variety of unskilled contractors and not professional roofing contractors. The coating on Woodruff was susceptible to UV sun rays and many failures were caused by moisture intrusion, resulting in the delamination of the wood fibers and curling up at the key-way butts.

I cannot remember the projected lifespan and the warranty of this roofing product but have seen early failures and some roofs that lasted many years. Freezing climate zones also seems to be a key factor in the failures in my opinion. There was a class action claim filed against the manufacture of Woodruff many years ago as I recall but has since expired.

There is a long list of manufactures since the ’70s, that have tried to imitate the look of real shakes but many have failed. There nothing that can replace the real charm of cedar shakes or a cedar-shingled roof. The shake roof system, with interlaced, felt and using Western Red Cedar Shakes, cannot be duplicated. They have a 24 inches length x 1-inch thick butt and ten-inch exposure to the weather nailed over skip sheathing so they can breathe. It is just a good system compared to the so-called “fake shake” like the product seen above.

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