Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Treating Cedar Shake Roofs: Should I Do It?

Treating Cedar Shake Roofs


Natural cedar shake roof tiles are materials that have been used for centuries in achieving stunning roof designs. They have insulative qualities and wind and impact resistance. If you’re a cedar roof owner, you’re probably aware of the aesthetic appeal they give to a house. All these characteristics are what make these roofing materials a go-to for homeowners.

As if all these features weren’t enough, natural cedar shakes contain oils that make them inclined to be decay-resistant. However, this doesn’t mean they do not need to be maintained and in more humid environments they tend to need an extra layer of care and protection.

In this article we’ll dive into the treatment of cedar shakes, is it something that should be done at all? We’ll talk about getting the quality of these roofing materials right from the start to avoid spending money on avoidable maintenance charges and, we’ll highlight alternative options for treating cedar shakes.

What is a Cedar Roof?

Before we dive into the debate of whether treating is a good option for cedar roofs, it’s important to know what these materials are made of. Cedar roofs and shingles are made from natural wood, such as western red cedar, which has been split and cut into thin strips.

These roofing materials have become popular due to the longevity they offer; when installed correctly, they can last up to 30 years or more, and because it’s a natural product, they are also environmentally friendly.

Key Features Of a Cedar Shake Roof

Here are some key features you need to know about cedar.


      • Natural material: made from cedar wood, which is a naturally durable and rot-resistant species.

      • Textured appearance: the rough, irregular surface of cedar shakes gives them a rustic, natural look.

      • Insulative properties: cedar shakes have good insulative properties, helping to keep buildings warm in winter and cool in summer.

      • Lightweight: cedar shakes are relatively lightweight, making them easy to install and handle during roofing projects.

      • Biodegradable: cedar shakes are biodegradable, meaning they will eventually decompose and return to the earth.

      • Can be painted or stained to match the color scheme of your house.

      • Can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance.

    Getting it Right From the Start

    When it comes to this type of roof and its maintenance, buying quality cedar shakes or shingles right off the bat can save you a lot of money in the long run. If you opt for fake or cheap cedar, however, you may find yourself dealing with more issues in the future due to damage caused by weather and wear and tear. Investing in original cedar shakes will not only provide better protection for your home but will also save you money over the years due to its low maintenance requirements.

    Should I Treat My Cedar Shake Roof?

    If you want my expert opinion, the simple answer is No. Cedar is a soft wood that can “breathe”. This means it can contract and expand with changes in temperature and humidity. Treating the wood interferes with its natural breathing ability and can reduce its longevity drastically.

    How to Prepare a Cedar Shake Roof For Treatment

    If you’re still convinced that treatment is what your roof needs then here are some tips on getting it prepared and how to avoid damaging your shakes during treatment.


        • Take away any debris, which includes leaves, sticks, dirt as well as mildew, moss, and leaves.

        • Restore any damaged rotten or damaged cement shake tile.

        • Clear the gutters so that they enable better drainage.

        • Get the shakes clean by using an acidic cleaning solution or bleach mix.

        • Let the cedar shakes dry completely.

        • Use a stiff-bristled brush to take away any loose pieces of wood and old fibers.

        • Clean any fibers or dust by using a dry paintbrush.

      Select The Best Product for Roof Care

      Instead of treating your roof, you can always choose to protect it by adding a covering. We’ll discuss some options available for cedar roofs. These coverings offer multiple benefits including UV and water resistance. Some provide protection and colors to shakes.

      The best product to choose is dependent on the climate as well as the individual requirements of your home. It’s also possible to select products that are used in conjunction with roof maintenance and pick a cleaning company to maintain your roof.

      Cedar Shake Roof Coverings


          1. Paint: Cedar shakes are painted and some paints have mildewcide, algaecide, and fungicides to prevent rotting and pests. Some paints are also protected against fire to shield the house from fire.

          1. Stain: The stain on cedar shakes not only provides color to a shaky roof, but it will also shield the roof from ultraviolet rays as well as help the roof get rid of water and humidity.

          1. Water Protection: Water damage can be extended to the cedar shake roof when it’s not handled correctly. Applying a water-resistant coating to the roof of a cedar shake can aid in the elimination of water and moisture that should be removed and could create damage to the roofing which includes mold, rot, and mildew. It can also affect the structural integrity of the structure of the roof.

          1. UV-Protection: As a precautionary measure, applying UV protection to the roof of a cedar shake can prevent shakes from cracking, cupping, or splitting and curving. UV radiation may cause discoloration, but the application of UV protection can lessen the risk of all this.

          1. Fire Protection: Because they are made from wood, cedar shakes are susceptible to fire-related damage and can be restricted due to their low fire-resistant properties. A cedar shake roof covered with products that are fire resistant can safeguard the roof as well as your entire house should it be subjected to flames.

        What Happens if I Don’t Properly Treat My Cedar Shakes?

        Inadequately treating the roof of a cedar shake can cause a variety of negative consequences. Cedar shakes may break, warp, cup, and split as a result of the sun’s rays as well as freeze and thaw cycles. The excess moisture in shakes can cause them to weaken and rot, and eventually cause water to seep through the structure, weakening its build and resulting in leaks inside the house.

        As well as damaging the roof, damaged shingles can create an ugly appearance that can reduce the appearance of your home. They can also impact your resale value when you are trying to sell your house and may prevent prospective buyers from securing certain kinds of financing.

        The Best Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance Advice

        Sometimes all your cedar shake roof needs is a good wash to restore it to its original shape. We offer premium roof cleaning services that are backed with our unique cedar shake cleaning formula. It is tested, trusted, and guaranteed to remove all your roof’s woes. When you choose us, your cedar shake roof is in good hands. However, if you decide that treating your cedar shakes is the right option for you, finding a seasoned professional to get the job done would be a better option. It’s safer and this will prevent your Cedar shakes from getting damaged any further.

        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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