Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance – Repair vs Replacement

How to Know if a Cedar Roof Needs to be Repaired or Replaced?

cedar roof repairWhen is it better to repair instead of replace a cedar roof? In general cedar roofs rarely need to be repaired. They are very durable and are not very susceptible to wind, ice or hail damage. The most common repairs on a cedar roof are to transitional areas such as around a chimneys or other penetration, where the cedar roof meets something (ie. skylight or vent or other partr of the roof).  Additionally, roof flashing around skylights, valleys or chimneys may need to be resealed. Skylights cause roof leaks quite frequently because often they are installed improperly. Look at all the rotten wood in the picture. The cedar roof leaked around a roof valley, skylight and a roof vent.

clean cedar shake roofCedar roof material does not require maintenance per se. Occasionally, cedar roofs can be cleaned to make them look new again, but it is a cosmetic treatment only. Some people prefer an aged wood look whereas some prefer a new clean wood appearance.

As cedar roofs get older and begin to leak and entirely break down, it is best to replace the roof. Often times a 35-50 year old cedar roof will begin to dematerialize, rot and fall apart. At this point it is better not to waste money on expensive repairs that will not hold up very long. It is much better to contact a cedar roof contractor who specializes in cedar installations and get an estimate to replace the roof. No need to was money on repairing an old roof that is completely breaking down.

Premier Roofing replaces and repairs cedar roofs in the DC, MD and NOVA areas. If you need a free estimate for your project, please get send us and online request.

How Much is a Cedar Shake Roof?

Cedar roofs can be quite expensive, but they last a very long time and bring a high level of value. In general a cedar roof will cost 2-3x more than the cost of using a standard asphalt shingle roof. Cedar will out live other common roofing materials by 10-20 years. Wood roofs are very energy efficient, and cedar tiles act as a natural insulation, unlike asphalt. Added insulation will save you money on your electric bill when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Of course the cost of a cedar roof depends on the size of the roof and the kind of cedar used and the specific conditions and configuration of the existing roof. With the exception of installing a slate roof, cedar is the most expensive material. Most cedar roofs are installed on homes with a unique look that only cedar shake can deliver. 

Advantages of Cedar Roofing Material

  1. Cedar shingles offer great curbside appeal and it can be finished with a vast range of coatings and oils. Cedar can be easily cut into any shape and size to add that timeless beauty to your home that you’ve always wanted. The uniform texture and straight wood grains makes for a very installation-friendly material.
  2. Cedar shake is one of the most durable roofing materials. With correct installation and maintenance, cedar shingles have a much longer lifespan than your average asphalt shingle. Longevity is approximately a 50 year lifespan. Due to the weather resistance and its strong form, cedar makes for one of the worlds best natural roofing materials. Thanks to its toughness and strength, cedar shingles can increase the longevity and value of your home.
  3. Natural bug resistance. In buggy, moist damp area, there is nothing better. Bugs including mosquitoes hate the smell of cedar and they will stay away.

Different Types of Cedar Shingles

  • cedar shake roof contractingRed cedar roofing material is also referred to as western red cedar. Red-western cedar is commonly used in roofing for shake and shingles due to its extremely attractive appearance. Very light and durable, red cedar is known for its remarkable attributes such as its sustainability. The production of this fine material is highly energy efficient meaning that it uses a lot less energy to produce compared to other roofing materials such as plastics, concrete, or steel. A very green and environmentally friendly roof solution.
  • White cedar shingles is also known as eastern white cedar roofing. White cedar roofing shingles are very attractive and durable. The natural tannins and oils in the wood fight against rot, insects and overall general decay. When it comes to its attractiveness, no other material can compare to the way white cedar is structured. These shingles can be painted, stained, or bleached to achieve many different looks for your home.

What Constitutes a Quality Cedar Shake Roof Installation

  1. Install tar paper and ice and weather shielding. 
  2. Ensure proper attic ventilation. Not doing so will cause temperature and humidity extremes and dramatically reduce the life expectancy of the wood roofing material.
  3. Drip edges should be installed to prevent water from blowing up under the cedar shake during high winds. 
  4. Cedar is a natural wood material and it needs to breath especially after getting wet. Installation of a “breather material” underneath the wooden shingles (and on top of the tar paper / weather shielding) will allow the wood to fully dry. Breather material is usually a nylon mesh that has a texture similar to steel wool. Breather material is absolutely essential to prevent moisture from being trapped under the wood shingle. 
  5. When laying wooden shingles, the shingles need to overlap one another so that a reveal of approximately 5  inches is achieved. Not establishing the proper amount of overhang or reveal will cause the entire roof to need to be removed and replaced as it will become very susceptible to wind and water damage.
  6. Ensure that all roof penetrations are properly flashed and sealed.  
  7. Be sure gutters and downspout installation is done properly and that all stormwater is getting off the roof immediately and not damning and backing up under roof tiles. Water backing up under wooden roofing tiles can cause mold and rot over time.