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Can You Paint Cedar Shakes?

Can You Paint Cedar Shakes?


Cedar shakes are a beautiful and natural way to enhance the exterior of a home. However, over time, natural elements can take a toll on these wooden shingles, leaving them in need of maintenance. One popular method of preserving cedar shakes is to paint them. But, can and should you paint cedar shakes?

In this article, we will dive into the details of painting cedar shakes, covering everything from preparation to maintenance. We’ll provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision about this process.

Should you Paint Your Cedar Shingles and shakes?

Cedar shakes can be painted, but there are multiple factors to consider. Here are some important things to note before covering your shakes with paint.

      1. Age of the shakes: Cedar shakes are a natural material that will expand and contract over time due to changes in temperature and humidity. If the shakes are new, it is best to let them weather properly before painting them. This allows the shakes to acclimate to their environment and reduces the risk of cracking and peeling the paint. If the shakes are older, it is important to inspect them for signs of wear, such as rot or insect damage, and address these issues before painting.

      1. Condition of the shakes: Before painting, it’s important to thoroughly inspect the shakes for any signs of damage or wear. If the shakes are in good condition, they can be painted. However, if they are damaged or rotting, they should be repaired or replaced before painting. Damaged or rotting shakes will not hold paint well and will continue to deteriorate even after painting, leading to costly repairs.

      1. Type of paint to use: When painting cedar shakes, it’s important to use high-quality paint that is specifically designed for exterior use. Oil-based paint or water-based paint with a high solid content are both suitable options as they provide better adhesion and durability. Additionally, it’s recommended to use a paint that has UV inhibitors, which will help protect the shakes from fading and discoloration due to sun exposure. It’s also important to note that if you are located in an area with high precipitation levels, you should use paint that is resistant to mildew.

    How to Paint Cedar Shakes

    You have to Work Fast

    Painting relatively new cedar shakes require less effort than old ones that have had time to weather. It is necessary to condition the wood fibers in order to prepare them for the process of absorbing and retaining the paint. When natural weathering takes place and the wood is soiled, it will be difficult to create an even shade when painting the shakes. The paint will degrade more quickly. One way to get an even coat is to make sure you work quickly after the shakes have been prepped.

    Create a Clean Surface to Work With

    In order to prepare the cedar roof shingles for painting, it is necessary to clean any mildew, mold, or stains using bleach or a cleaner and let them dry completely, which could take as long as two weeks. If it rains, you’ll have to wait longer until the surface is dry. Once the cedar shakes are completely dry, you can use a stiff bristled brush to eliminate any fibers or slivers.

    Use a Primer

    Primers are essential for protecting wood and providing paint with a surface that it can adhere to while painting shakes of cedar. A stain-blocking primer made of oil is the ideal choice to shield the wood from mildew, mold, and another staining. Be sure to go through any edges that have been overlapping and ensure that the primer has gotten into all crevices and cracks. If you’re using a roll or sprayer, be sure to back-brush the surfaces to ensure that you’ve covered all the areas.

    Apply the Paint

    Once the primer has completely dried then it’s time to use the painting. Applying exterior grade acrylic-latex paint and using the same you used for the primer, be sure to concentrate on the edges that are overlapped and cracks and crevices to ensure you’ve secured all of the surfaces. To get the best results you must apply a minimum of two coats.

    Use Treatments

    We’ve talked about treating cedar shakes, it isn’t always the first line of action when it comes to maintenance but it can help. Paint on cedar shakes can be made to offer fire resistance, water resistance as well as mold and mildew prevention however, you might need further treatments in order to ensure the protection of the cedar shake roofing. A consultation with a professional can help you in understanding what treatments your roof requires.

    Maintaining Painted Cedar Roof Shakes

    Maintaining painted cedar shakes is crucial to keeping them looking fresh and new. Proper cleaning and upkeep are essential to prolong the life of the paint and ensure the best possible finish.

    A regular cleaning schedule should be established to remove dirt, dust, and debris that can accumulate on the shakes. Power washing or gentle scrubbing with a mild detergent can be effective methods for cleaning painted cedar shakes.

    Repainting is also an important aspect of maintaining painted cedar shakes. The frequency of repainting will depend on the quality of the paint used, the exposure to the elements, and the overall condition of the shakes.

    A general rule of thumb is to repaint every 5-7 years, but it’s always best to check the shakes regularly and re-paint as soon as you notice any signs of wear or chipping. By following a regular cleaning and repainting schedule, you can keep your painted cedar shakes looking beautiful for many years to come.

    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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