Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Can I Walk on a Cedar Shake Roof?

Can I Walk on a Cedar Shake Roof?


Walk on a Cedar Shake Roof

In short, yes. But perhaps the question should be, is it safe to walk on a cedar shake roof  ? It is also worth thinking about why you want to get up on the roof in the first place – to inspect the damage, to check the overall condition, or perhaps just out of interest.

In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of walking on a cedar shake roof, the possible benefits, and the risks involved.

There may be occasions when you feel it warrants the need to walk on the roof, as mentioned above, this could be for a repair, to clean it, or even to inspect it.  There are both positives and negatives, what may they be?

Why do You Want to Climb onto Your Cedar Shake Roof?

Depending on what you are hoping to achieve will dictate the options that will be available to you.  If you are just needing to inspect the roof then the options are different to that if you are hoping to actively clean it.

For either of these options you can select the solution that works for you.

What to look out for on a Cedar Shake Roof?

  • Is there large amounts of organic material on the roof such as leaves, moss, fungus, or algae? If so, these should be removed to ensure the roof lasts as long as it can.
  • Are there trees with overhanging branches around your house? If so perhaps these can be cut back a little without damaging the surrounding natural habitat.
  • Is there water clogging along the bottom of the roof or perhaps the water spills over when it rains?
  • Can you see any damaged or lose shakes?

Can I Walk on a Cedar Shake Roof? Yes, but Here are Some of the Risks...

1. Cedar Shakes Get Slippery & Dangerous

Cedar shakes are a natural organic material and as they age they can accumulate natural matter such as moss, fungus, and other organic materials such as leaves, combined with a little bit of moisture can lead to a dangerous and possibly deadly situation.  The slippery surface underfoot combined with the slope of a roof can lead to an incredibly dramatic fall! There are several factors that will come into play in this situation such as the pitch of your roof, the condition of your roof, your physical and mental thresholds for the height, and the ability to balance in such circumstances, all that while trying to avoid stepping on the shakes and breaking them.

In order to counteract this issue some people recommend to walk on the Cedar shakes will roofing shoe spike, but even this is not recommended as they can damage the shakes with the puncture marks.

2. Damage the Cedar Shakes

Cedar Shakes are a great roofing material but they are delicate under too much stress and can be dislodged, cracked, or even broken when a heavy (human) weight is applied to them. It is incredibly important not to walk on them incorrectly and cause them to break in any way, shape, or form as this will damage the roof and likely cause it to need unnecessary costly repairs.

Some of Sullivan Cedar Shakes Roof Cleaning Previous Work

What are the Solutions other than Walking on a Cedar Shake Roof?

Depending on why you want to get on the roof will define what your options are. If you are simply looking to inspect the roof then there are some even easier solutions than climbing up a ladder.

1. Use a Sturdy Ladder

An “old-school” yet very simple and relatively safe solution with most roofs, a ladder is the best way to access it, this is no different for a Cedar shake roof. You will need a ladder that comfortably reaches up to the roof and also is stable from the bottom. The ladder should also be stable at the top and can have extra arms which will help to stabilize it on the roof and reduce the risk of sliding. Along with stabilizing it, this can also reduce the weight on any given section, reducing the likely hood of damage to the cedar roof shakes.

2. Hire a Professional

If all of this sounds too dangerous and too much effort, that is because it likely is. The risks involved with getting up on your roof, breaking, or falling, are easily resolved by getting a professional to take care of the cleaning for you. Not only will the clean be of higher quality, but the roof will also be undamaged, and you will not risk falling off the roof in any way.

There are numerous companies offering Cedar Shake Roof cleaning but it is important to find one that does not walk on the roof at all, does not use a pressure washer, has years of experience, and fully understands cedar shakes and their properties as a roofing material.

Sullivan Cedar Roof cleaning ticks all these boxes and more. His specially formulated cleaning solution is environmentally friendly, efficient, and safe for your family, pets, and garden. Sullivan Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning has years of experience and has cleaned thousands of cedar shakes roofs personally.
To get a quote for your roof don’t hesitate to contact today for a quote.

3. Inspect Visually From the Ground

Do you even need to climb up on the roof to see the roof? If you can see from the ground then that is perhaps the simplest and safest solution. From here you should be able to see any loose shakes without having to walk on the cedar shake roof.

4. View the Roof on Google Maps

Gone are the days of having to actually get above your roof to see it, now you can simply tap your address into Google maps and you will be taken to your location and you can zoom in to a level that will allow you to see the overall condition of your roof.  Depending on the area you live in there may be a difference in the quality of the images and how recent they are.  Even so, this can give you a good idea of the condition from the safety of your home or through your phone.

5. A Drone

Not everyone has one but they are incredibly useful to inspect high-up objects from the safety of the ground. A drone can however cause other issues and safety hazards such as power cables and whether you can legally fly a drone in your area. These are other considerations to take into account but it remains a viable option. If you have one then it is great, if not then it is not worth buying one for the task.


To conclude; you can climb onto your roof but it is not advisable, there are risks of personal harm and of damage to your property.  If you are looking to simply inspect your roof then using Google Maps or looking at it from the ground is easiest and safest, but a drone will allow you to take a closer look.  If you would like your roof cleaned then it is best to call a professional and this is where Sullivan Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning comes in.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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