So, how long does a cedar shake roof last? Years, decades, centuries? Perhaps not centuries and you have to hope certainly more than years! But you can take various actions to help to prolong the life as much as possible. Some of these factors can be controlled, and others can’t. We can do our best with the factors we can control!
In its lifespan, every Cedar Roof is exposed to different variable factors, all of which have a role to play in its ultimate longevity.
How to Determine the Longevity of a Cedar Shake Roof
When considering how long does a cedar shake roof last, there are many factors. Just like anything that is exposed to the outdoors, variable climates, changing weather patterns, the longevity of a Cedar Roof depends on how well it was maintained, and the quality of the cedar roof installation.
In this article, we will take a look through some of the contributing factors.
What can Affect - How Long Does a Cedar Shake Roof Last?
Some homeowners don’t face any major issues with their Cedar Shake Roof for decades, in order to achieve that there are some things that need to be taken into account. We will take a look through those and how best to make your cedar shake roof last as long as possible.
Local Weather Conditions can Dictate the Lifespan of your Cedar Shake Roof
Depending on your local weather you may find that your roof is moss, algae, and fungus-free for a long time with relatively little need to check it. If you live in a damper climate and have trees and other organic material around then you will likely need to take a little more action to keep it in tip-top condition. Making sure to get it cleaned to remove all organic matter should be high on your list.
What Grade Material is used on your Cedar Shake Roof
If you are not familiar with the different Grades of Cedar Shake, here is a quick summary of them.
Cedar Shakes can differ in terms of their thickness depending on the grade. Cedar Shakes are chopped out of a larger block by hand and will vary slightly in their thickness. Two Cedar Shakes will never be an exact copy of each other. This gives a Cedar Shake roof a wonderfully rustic, and vintage look.
Now let us talk about Grading.
How are Cedar Shake Roofs Graded? Well, there are a lot of factors starting with the thickness, acid content, and length of the shingles.
There are mainly 4 different grades of Cedar Shake Roofs – Premium, Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3. This process is in compliance with the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau’s Certi-label Grading System.
Different Cedar Shake Roofing Grades
The North America the typical cedar shakes are made from California Redwood(Sequoia sempervirens), Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata), and in some other case Alaskan Yellow Cedar (Cupressus nootkatensis) is also used. If you are looking to shakes roofs in Scandinavia and Central Europe then it will most commonly be Pine (Pinus Sylvestris).
There are 3 common lengths of Cedar Shakes, these are 16″, 18″, and 24″. Once the shakes have been split they are graded according to the Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau’s Certi-label Grading System.
Number 1 -Blue Label
These are the highest grade of Cedar Shakes and are 100% hearthwood, 100% clear, and 100% edge grain. These shingles are available in the various sizes 16″, 18″, and 24″.
Number 2 - Red Label
This is a standard grade of cedar shake and is perfectly suitable for many applications. They have a slightly higher tollerence for imperfections such as some flat grain and a limited amount of sapwood. They come in 16”, 18”, and 24” lengths but in a 16″ length there is no less than 10″ of clear.
Number 3 - Black Label
This is the lowest grade of cedar shake and is useful for economy applications such as use on sheds and outbuildings. This grade of cedar shake can have a minimum of 6″ of clear on a 16″ length. The length of shakes is also available in 16″, 18″, and 24″.
The Quality of the Cedar Shake Roof Installation
Why is the quality of the installation important? Making sure the roof is created correctly from the beginning will help to make sure that everything that comes after it is solid and reliable. The builder who puts the roof on should have a good understanding of cedar shakes, their properties, benefits, and possible issues.
Make sure to consult with someone who has vast knowledge, and experience in installing Cedar Shake Roofs.
It will be important to pick a grade of cedar shake that will last, suit the purpose of the building, but also fit your budget.
How Well was the Cedar Shake Roof Maintained?
Keeping the roof free of organic material is important as this will cause the shakes to degrade, this could be leaves, algae, fungus, etc. Shakes can also become discolored and lose their natural beauty. When considering cleaning your cedar shake roof you should take into account the issues and risks that are involved with it. You can read more about them in our article on “Can I walk on my Cedar Shake Roof?“.
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.
- Are the Cedar Shakes visibly clean and undamaged?
- 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 you see the underlay of the roof?
In conclusion, if you look after your Cedar Shake Roof correctly; fix any damaged shakes as soon as they are noticed, get it cleaned once every 10 years or so then you can expect it to last around 30 – 50 years. It is worth spending a small amount of cleaning the roof in the short term in order to save a large spend in the long term.
If you need some help with this then Bruce Sullivan from Sullivan Cedar Shakes Roof Cleaning can help you out.