Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Why Replace a Roof When We Can Clean It?

How To Deal with Green Moss on Cedar Shake roof?


Roof replacement is a large investment, so if it’s possible, why not replace a roof rather than renew your roof with a simple cleaning, this can save you a lot of money. But how do you know when it’s time to clean and when it’s time to replace? Today we’ll dive deeper into this question learning about the differences between roof cleaning and roof replacement to help you decide which is the best option for your needs.

Table of Contents

What Factors go into Replace a Roof?

There are two main factors that go into determining whether or not to replace your existing cedar shake roof. Will a new one will be worth the cost and what are the age and condition of the cedar shingles on your current roof. If they are newer than twenty years old and in relatively good shape, then a simple cleaning can usually restore them to their original beauty. However, if your roof is over twenty years old or it needs a little more TLC, then you may want to consider a roof replacement. It is always worth contacting an experienced cedar shake roof cleaner to get their opinion on the condition of the roof. The quote will be free but their knowledge is priceless.

Replace a roof
Where do you live

Where do You Live?

The age of your roof isn’t the only determining factor when deciding between roof replacement and roof cleaning. If you live in an area where your cedar shake roof has to deal with extreme weather conditions, like snow and rain, then this can also cut down on how long it takes for your roof’s condition to deteriorate. If the average rainfall during the winter months is over 60 inches, then chances are that if you have a cedar roof, you’ll need to consider a roof replacement much earlier than normal.

The Surrounding Environment

Another factor that comes into play when deciding whether or not it’s time for a new roof is the overall condition of your cedar shake roofing. If all your shakes are falling off or there are large chunks missing, then this can cause problems for you over time. If you’ve noticed that your roof doesn’t look quite as beautiful as it once did, then chances are that you should consider a roof replacement for the safety of your family and home. It is worth noting that you can get a quote for a section of the roof to be replaced and have the rest cleaned. If you have two broken cedar shakes or shingles then there is no need to remove the entire roof.

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Typical Lifespan

When deciding between roof cleaning or roof replacement, one thing to remember is that no matter how hard you try to keep your cedar roof looking perfect, it will eventually need to be replaced, the typical lifetime of a maintained cedar shake roof is 40 – 50 years.

A cedar shake will last for years and years but external factors play a large role. The natural elements and dampness will cause it to rot and deteriorate over time, this can be brought on by algae, fungus, moss, or other organic materials collecting on the roof. However, you can get a lot more life out of your roof if you take some preventative measures such as a clean every 5 – 10 years, creating a gutter system that captures debris and water, and making sure trees are not dropping lots of leaves on to the roof which accumulates and cause the cedar shakes to deteriorate.

Ask Expert Advice

Overall, roof replacement is a large investment and if you don’t have to do it, then we always recommend that you don’t. Getting your cedar shake roof cleaned and extending the life of it for another 10 years will generally cost around 5% of the cost of a new roof. If the roof is falling apart then contact a cedar shake roof cleaner, see what they suggest and then proceed from there. We have an article on how to hire a responsible cedar shake roof expert.

Two business people talking on a rooftop.

It takes a lot of careful consideration and observation to determine whether it’s time for a new roof or if you can restore your current one with a simple cleaning. If you believe that you need a roof replacement, but aren’t sure if it will be worth the investment, call us today at 515-971-1430 so we can discuss and go over the options.

In the Southern region of the US roof cleaning is a common service. For many home owners in the Mid-West there still is a learning curve about roof cleaning. Many home owners believe once they see the black stains, moss, mold and mildew on their roof it is time to replace the roof. In most cases this is not true. As to asphalt roofs, many believe those black stains is the tar from the asphalt bleeding through. In reality it is algae/bacteria from high humidity and moisture over hanging trees and shade. There is a tried and true process of low pressure mixture that can be applied to the roof that will return the roof to that new look once again. Why spend thousands of dollars to replace a roof when it can be cleaned for hundreds or in most case less then 10% the cost to replace it.

The process to clean a roof is not harmful to the roof nor the landscaping when done by a certified roof cleaner. The results are instant. There are a lot of products out there and sold on the Internet that will not clean a roof, these DIY products. Your money is best spent having a certified roof cleaning service clean your roof. Research your local area for such a service. In most cases they will come out and provide you with a free estimate.

Sullivan Roof Cleaning

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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