dSummer is here!
If you live right on the coast you are probably going to wear your jacket to take the dog for the morning stroll. If you are inland a little – it’s warm outside. In 2016, that morning walk was tainted by a giant column of smoke and the smell of campfire in the air. There was a massive fire in Big Sur. The central coast is still recovering from that incredible disaster, and the threat of fire is still on many people’s minds. Do you have a Class A fire rated your roof?
What’s risen from the ashes of that mess is a new clampdown on wood shake roofs in this area. Let me take the opportunity here to do some explaining about what a Class A fire rating is. You still can own a wood shake or wood shingle roof without worrying about what it might mean in case of fire.
One particular insurance company has started the misguided practice of cancelling policies because of the wood shake roofs that were installed years ago! That shows ignorance on the part of that company, because wood shake, when installed correctly by a reputable roofing company, is Class A fire rated, which is the highest safety rating available. So, what do you do if you live in Carmel and need both wood shake and homeowner’s insurance? It turns out you can have both.
Let’s back up and do a quick review
This page is about the ability to suppress fire. These are the common classes of fire:
A: Combustible materials (wood, paper, fabric, refuse)
B: Flammable liquids, flammable gas
C: Electrical fire
D: Flammable metals
K: Cooking oils and fats (K for kitchen!)
The Class A rating we’re talking about is about fire suppression. When a roof is rated Class A, it means that it is made of a substance that either won’t ignite (like slate), or is treated with a fire retardant so that it doesn’t burn. Where roofing is concerned, a Class A roof carries the highest rating for fire resistance. There are Class B and C ratings as well, and as you can guess, they have less resistance to fire when things get hot.
Back to wood shake
Of the wood shake roofs installed in California, they all are treated by one company called Fire Smart Roofing in British Columbia. You can read about them here: www.firesmartroofing.com.
All wood shakes coming into California are treated with a Class B standard retardant, but it’s the installation method that creates the Class A rating.
During installation, what makes the difference between Class B and A is the underlayment. You must have a mineral surfaced, fiberglass cap sheet installed underneath your wood shakes. That is what achieves a Class A rating and warranty. We also recommend using stainless steel fasteners. Keep this in mind when you are looking at your roofing proposal. There will always be a company ready to charge less for a roof, but is it clear in their contract that they are meeting all the requirements for a Class A fire rating?
Your number one home investment is a fire safe roof. It’s good to know you can choose wood shake for your roof because of the available fire rating. Our roofs are the largest surfaces that are most directly exposed to flying embers from elsewhere. That’s what endangers us as a fire approaches up a hillside. Keeping your shrubbery down and away from the house is important. It is also wise to trim tree branches that are touching or hanging close to your home. Do your part and clean up the vegetation around your home. Then you can relax and enjoy the beauty and striking accent of a wood shake roof on your home.