Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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5 Things a Cedar Roof Home Owner Can do


Here at Sullivan Cedar Roof Cleaning, we often find ourselves in more of an educational role; for owners of these beautiful wood roofs, in this article, we will talk about the 5 things a cedar roof home owner can do to prolong the life of their cedar shake roof.

Cedar shake (or wood shake roofing as some call it) is the only roofing that needs ongoing maintenance. Cedar shake roofs are organic and made of wood that needs special care. If the homeowners preserve it, it can last many more decades than conventional roofing shingles. Roof owners need to prevent their roofs from deterioration to maintain their beauty and extend the roof’s lifespan. However, the decline of the roof shakes can be caused by various factors that need to be avoided by the owners.

So, it is suggested that the homeowners must see to these five areas:

Table of Contents

1. Excessive Moisture

By nature, wood attracts water and hence swells, but when it dries, it gets shrunk. In this process, it gets cracks to be developed that trap more water and make it rot. Excessive moisture can cause damage to the cedar shake roof. Always be sure to clean your gutters if water has been stopped up. At the edge of the roofline, the wood wicks that water right back in, eventually rotting the wood. Always clean out that area. Otherwise, it would be a source of leakage and cause algae, mould and mildew to grow that will cause wood rot and erosion.

Moreover, the shade of trees and overhanging branches can hinder the sunshine and drying of the shakes and thus making the roof shakes prone to moisture. So, the witty suggestion to roof owners is to clean the excessive moisture from their roof area. 

2. Remove Debris from Valleys

Debris and leaves on roofs are a regular thing if you live in a green area where there are a lot of trees. However, debris can cause further damage to the roof if not cleaned properly. Leaves of trees fall on the roof shakes, and with moisture and rain, it can decompose the wood shakes.

We’d like to see you make sure that any sticks, leaves or other debris are removed regularly from any valleys on the roof. It will help the roof shakes to dry faster and also do not cause mould to grow. If not, this will be another area for shingles to wick moisture and eventually decompose. It will lead to a decrease in the lifespan of your cedar shake roof.

3. Maintain Trees around the Home

We often see homes covered by tree branches, either hanging above or lying directly on the shingles themselves. Although it is an excellent thing that you live near nature and get fresh air yet, it can cause damage to your cedar shake roof. But don’t worry at all, because you can remove this problem by cutting the trees back regularly.

It will help prevent your roof from building up moss or lichen due to too much shade. Moreover, these hanging tree branches can be a source of debris. So, cutting and removing overhanging tree branches will benefit your roof and save the energy that you will have to use for cleaning your roof. Moreover, it will protect the roof from damage if the tree branch falls on the roof.

4. Missing Cedar Wood Shingles

This happens when the roof shakes are not installed correctly. The shakes are not appropriately nailed, and this is the reason that the shakes slip off. Sometimes, when wooden shakes get wet and dry, they lose their grip upon the nail and get slipped. So, the maintenance of the roof make you aware of the problem and If you see a shingle missing, have it replaced right away.

If you do not, UV rays can melt that barrier of black felt between your shingles and the roof, which will only lead to further damage. So, the best solution is that the roof owner immediately replace the wood shakes.

5. Ice Dam Removal

An Ice dam is a ridge at the roof’s edge, preventing the melted snow from dripping down. It causes the water stored behind the ice to leak into the roof’s ceiling and cause damage. Ice dam buildup is natural if you live in an area where there is excessive snow falling.

If you live in an area with excessive ice dam buildup, always make sure to have this properly removed as soon as possible. It will be very safe to clean it out regularly. Otherwise, it will cause strain on the roof shakes and thus damage the roof. Moreover, the owners need to remove that ice dam buildup to put too much pressure on the Cedar Shakes and the durability of your roof.

A Well-Cared for Roof Will Last

If you want most of your roof durability and increased lifespan, you need to maintain your roof regularly. Cedar shake roofs last for 20-30 years but can last up to 40-50 years if the owners care for and keep well. 

Having your roof cleaned on a regular eight to ten-year basis will maintain your roof for its whole intended life! Contact Bruce today for a quote and get your cedar shake roof cleaned and extend the life.

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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