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4 Mistakes to Avoid When Doing a Cedar Shake Roof Install

Cedar Shake Roof Install Mistakes


It can be a daunting process when doing a cedar shake roof install, especially when you have 4 common mistakes to avoid. This blog post will cover 4 common mistakes that people make when trying to do a cedar shake roof install and how you can avoid them so your installation goes smoothly.

Table of Contents

1. Not Allowing Wood to Acclimatize

One of the biggest mistakes is not allowing cedar shakes time to acclimatize before the cedar shake roof installation. It is recommended that the cedar shake needs at least two weeks after they have been delivered and laid down in your yard, that way the wood can adjust itself with the local moisture content. If you put them up too soon then they will dry up quickly due to the sun and wind which can cause cedar shakes to split. This does of course depend on the distance at which the cedar shakes have traveled to your home, if you are next to the depot and it is in the same climate as yours then the time period can be shortened.

A pile of wood is sitting on top of a wooden table.
Nail Gun

2. Using the Wrong Nails and the Wrong Tools

Another cedar shake roof install mistake is using the wrong nails. It’s important to use rust-resistant, corrosion-proof nails for cedar shakes to ensure they penetrate deep enough and hold tight over time.  

It is often required that you use corrosion-resistant nails or staples for your cedar shake roof.  Stainless steel (Type 304 or 316), aluminum, or hot-dipped zinc-coated steel nails and stainless steel staples are often recommended but it is worth checking with your local authority for their exact specifications and criteria. If you choose a nail that isn’t strong enough it can cause cedar shakes to become loose over time as the wood swells and shrinks with changes in humidity levels.

Using incorrect tools such as power drills or screwdrivers also causes problems as cedar suffers from high torque which means there is resistance when turning screws etc., causing them to break off easily if too much pressure is applied.

3. Not Aligning Your Shingles Properly

Not aligning your cedar shakes properly is another huge mistake. This can cause water penetration onto the underlayment or even worse, it can loosen the shingles and leave them vulnerable to wind damage due to gaps in between each shake. Make sure you align all of your cedar roof tiles so there are no cracks left behind which will allow for free flow of air and moisture into your attic space.

You should also ensure that they overlap correctly when laying down on top of one another as this forms a seal against rainwater getting through underneath while allowing expansion room if needed.

Old Shingles

4. Not Allowing for Ventilation

One of the biggest mistakes when doing a cedar shake roof install is not allowing ventilation. You should ensure that you leave ventilation gaps in between each shingle which will allow for ventilation and help prevent any mold growth from forming on your roof tiles or in your attic space. It’s important to avoid moisture build-up whether it be from water penetrating down into your attic space or even ventilation gaps which you can’t see.

There are products available that allow for ventilation while also preventing the growth of mold and mildew on your cedar roof tiles such as Cedar Shake Ventilation Covers. These ventilation covers sit behind each shingle to provide a barrier from wetness build-up, allowing moisture to escape.

Other Possible Solutions

There are many reasons why hiring professionals is beneficial, such as it ensures quality workmanship and lasting durability. It saves homeowners from wasting money and time on completing an inferior job with lower workmanship. If you roof doesn’t last as long as it should due to a poor cedar shake roof install then it is likely not worth the time and money it took to do.

It’s important to note that professional installation is not the only solution. If you’re experienced and confident in your cedar shake roof install skills then here is a recap on some of the key points:

  • Allow the wood to acclimatize
  • Use stainless steel nails which will prevent corrosion on your roof tiles over time
  • Ensure there is sufficient ventilation so moisture can escape – use a Cedar Shake ventilation cover.
  • Ensure all shingles align correctly with no gaps when installed properly but also allow them to be able to expand when wet and breathe in order to dry themselves efficiently.
  • Additional Points
    • Do not walk on the Cedar Shake Roof Install as this can put pressure on the cedar shake and cause it to break.  If you must, be sure to do so carefully and do not stand on the tip.

It is also worth noting that just because you have been told you need a new roof, it is quite likely that you actually do not! Bruce Sullivan has decades of experience in the cedar shake industry and offers a cleaning service that will restore your cedar shake roof to its former glory. The cleaning process uses no power washer and removes all fungus, algae, moss, and other organic matter and infestations on the roof. Once cleaned the roof will be able to breathe again and the shakes can create their own oils. This will bring your roof back to life and save you money in the process as cleaning a roof costs about 5% of the price of replacing it and it will allow your roof to last the typical 40 – 50 years.

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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