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Maximizing Cedar Siding Longevity: Insights on Cedar Shakes Siding and Lifespan

How long does cedar siding last


Cedar stands out as a popular choice when selecting the right types of roofing material for your home. Whether considering cedar shingles, shakes, or traditional siding, understanding each option’s unique qualities and maintenance requirements is crucial. Cedar offers natural beauty and durability and varies in its longevity, requiring homeowners to make informed decisions about maintenance and replacement. This guide will explore the differences between white cedar and traditional cedar, the life expectancy of cedar roofs, and how cedar compares to other wood siding options, providing you with comprehensive insights to make the best choice for your home.

What Makes Cedar Shake Siding a Popular Choice?

Cedar siding is cherished for its natural beauty, distinct wood grain, and warm, inviting look it gives homes. Its natural oils make it resistant to rot and decay, offering a durable siding option compared to other wood types. Furthermore, cedar siding requires less frequent replacement than some alternatives, making it a cost-effective choice in the long run. This quality makes cedar siding a better option for those seeking a balance between aesthetics and practicality. However, homeowners should be aware that cedar may require more attention than synthetic materials, but its natural charm often outweighs this minor inconvenience.

How Long Does Cedar Siding Last?

The lifespan of cedar shingles can vary widely, typically lasting anywhere from 15 to 40 years, depending on maintenance and environmental conditions. Regular maintenance is key to extending the life of your cedar siding. Factors like climate, exposure to elements, and the quality of installation play significant roles in determining when siding needs to be replaced. Well-maintained cedar siding may even surpass the higher end of its lifespan estimate, proving its worth as a long-term investment. However, monitoring for signs of wear is important, as neglected cedar siding may deteriorate faster, necessitating earlier replacement.

Cedar Shake vs. Shingle: Which is More Durable?

Cedar shakes and shingles offer different aesthetic appeals, but their durability is comparable. Shakes are thicker and more rugged, providing a more textured and dimensional look to your home’s exterior. Their robustness means that, with proper maintenance, this type of siding can last for decades, often outlasting other materials. On the other hand, cedar shingles, known for their sleek and uniform appearance, also promise a significant lifespan. Despite their thinner profile, they are engineered to withstand weather conditions when installed correctly.

The longevity of both shakes and shingles largely depends on the quality of the siding installation and the maintenance routine followed. A well-executed installation ensures that each piece is properly aligned and secured, which is crucial for the siding to last as long as possible. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning, staining, and timely repairs, further extends their lifespan. In fact, with diligent care, cedar siding – whether shakes or shingles – can last much longer than many homeowners expect, making them a durable and attractive option for any property.

Identifying the Need to Replace Cedar Siding

Signs that it’s time to replace your cedar siding include widespread rot, persistent moisture problems, and visible warping or cracking. Timely replacement can prevent further damage to the structure of your home. Additionally, if the cedar tends to absorb moisture or the siding’s protective finish has deteriorated significantly, it indicates that you should replace it. Cedar siding may only last as long as its weakest point, so addressing issues promptly is crucial.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Cedar Siding

Regular maintenance such as cleaning, sealing, and timely repairs are essential to ensure your cedar siding continues to protect and beautify your home. This maintenance is vital to keep moisture from entering the wood, which is crucial to prevent rot and decay. To make cedar last, it’s also important to address any small issues before they become major problems, thus extending the lifespan of your siding.

Common Problems with Cedar Siding and Solutions

Cedar siding faces challenges like moisture penetration, insect infestation, and UV damage. It’s important to seal the siding properly, conduct regular inspections, and use high-quality, UV-resistant stains or paints to combat these issues. Additionally, understanding that shingles and shakes might require different care approaches can help maintain cedar effectively and solve specific problems they might face.

The Role of Staining and Painting in Cedar Siding Maintenance

Staining or painting cedar siding enhances its aesthetic appeal and serves as a protective barrier against environmental elements. Regular reapplication of stain or paint, ideally every few years, is crucial to extend the siding’s life and maintain the cedar’s natural beauty. This process is essential, especially in climates harsh on wood exteriors.

Cedar Siding vs. Other Wood Siding Options

Cedar stands out from other types wood materials due to its natural resistance to rot and insects. This inherent quality often translates to a longer lifespan and lower maintenance needs, making it a more cost-effective option. While cedar may require more upfront investment, its durability means it’s less likely to need early replacement than other wood siding options.

Life Expectancy of a Cedar Shake Roof

The life expectancy of a cedar shake roof can be extensive, often up to 30 years, when maintained properly. Regular maintenance tasks, such as cleaning, treating moss and algae, and replacing damaged shakes, are essential to extend the lifespan of cedar shake roofs. Additionally, proper installation and routine inspections can ensure your cedar shake roof remains in top condition for many years.

Choosing the Right Cedar

When selecting cedar for your home, it’s important to consider the differences between cedar and redwood, white cedar and traditional cedar. White cedar tends to weather more gracefully and can be ideal for a more subdued appearance, whereas traditional cedar is known for its rich colour and grain. Each type of cedar has its unique characteristics, and choosing the right one depends on your specific aesthetic preferences and maintenance willingness.

Conclusion: Key Takeaways

  • Durability: Cedar siding, when properly maintained, can last several decades.
  • Maintenance: Regular cleaning, staining, or painting is crucial for longevity.
  • Choice: Both cedar shakes and shingles offer durability but have different aesthetic appeals.
  • Awareness: Recognize when cedar siding needs replacement to avoid structural damage.
  • Options: Consider the type of cedar and the desired aesthetic for your home.

Cedar siding, with its natural beauty and resilience, can be a lasting investment for your home. Understanding its maintenance needs and recognizing when it’s time for replacement are key to ensuring its enduring charm and functionality.

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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