Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Maintaining Your Cedar Shake Roof – Cleaning Treatments (Part 3 of Homeowner’s Guide)

Maintaining Your Cedar Shake Roof - Cleaning Treatments (Part 3 of Homeowner's Guide) 850x433


Now that you have removed the debris from your roof, you can examine the condition of the cedar shingles. Unless there is excessive damage, or your roof is leaking, you should not need to repair or completely replace your roof. In most cases, there may be some staining and discoloration, dirt, and/or organic growth (algae, moss, mold, mildew, fungi, etc.) that can easily be cleaned. Again, I do not recommend you clean the roof yourself. It is a job best left to a roof cleaning professional. While I may go into some detail in these posts, my intention is for you to be as knowledgeable as possible so you can hire a reputable roof cleaner.

Processes for Cleaning your Cedar Shake Roof:

At Sullivan Cedar Shakes Roof Cleaning, we use a proven cleaning solution that I developed after years of hands on experience and research. While I will not go into detail about our solution, I am happy to discuss what a professional roof cleaner should use, based on my research and manufacturer recommendations.

When you hire a roof cleaner, you will want to make sure he uses a non-pressure process, and cleans with a mild detergent solution containing wood preservative ingredients, as well as algaecide, mildewcide, and fungicide. The cleaning solution should also contain an oil to help rehydrate the shakes. Understand that their cleaning solutions may perform differently under various environmental conditions, so cleaning may be needed more often depending on the chemicals used, the amount of area precipitation, average temperatures, and roof conditions.

There are three base ingredients that can be used: sodium percarbonate, sodium peroxide, and sodium hypochlorite. Two of these base cleaners (sodium percarbonate and sodium peroxide) requires the cleaner to walk on the roof and to use a pressure process, which is not recommended.

A few key notes on hiring a cedar shake roof cleaner:

  • Hire someone that is experienced in the use of the above mentioned cleaning solutions. Have them provide examples of their prior cleanings/experience.
  • Have them explain the cleaning process they will use. Find out if they walk on the roof, or if they use a pressure system.
  • Do they carry liability insurance in the event of a fall or damage to your roof? Always have them provide you a copy with their cleaning quote.
  • There should be no need for return visits. Everything needed to clean, treat, and preserve your cedar shakes roof should be included within their cleaning solution.

All three of the above listed products will clean a cedar roof. However, each has its own form of application and cleaning process, so be sure to do your research to find the best cedar shake roof cleaner for you. In most cases, routine debris maintenance and regular cleaning is enough to properly care for your cedar shake roof, but sometimes it is necessary to apply preservative treatments to the cedar shakes. Part 4 of this blog series addresses these treatments.

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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