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How to Know When to Replace Your Cedar Shake Roof

BRAX Roofing gaithersburg

The natural rugged beauty of a cedar shake roof is still a popular choice among homeowners today. Covering the roof with wood shakes is a centuries-old practice that provides many benefits beyond looks. Yet, knowing when to repair or replace a cedar shake roof isn’t as clear as it is with alternative materials. We’ll discuss the reasons for that to help you understand how to know when to replace your cedar shake roof.

Cedar Shake Roofing Repairs and Maintenance

A well-maintained cedar roof can last up to 50 years before needing a complete replacement. This repair and maintenance can involve patching, applying topical treatments, washing moss off, and installing metal shims. The environment and weather will play a determining role in how well the roof ages through the years.

The longevity also depends on the quality of the installation and product, which makes a big difference after a decade or two. The main problems homeowners will notice are cracking, warping, missing shingles, moss covering, and loose shakes. Often times these signs will lead to a small or large leak. Yet, having a leak or damaged cedar shakes doesn’t automatically mean the entire roof needs replacing.

There are some special considerations to make with cedar roof shakes, such as not pulling a cracked shake out quickly to replace it. While this may seem the right way to DIY, the problem may get worse because the structure around the shakes is disrupted. Each cedar shake is nailed in place with numerous nails into layers of wood and decking underneath. The invasive process of pulling a shake out will tear the felt paper used for extra protection and create a domino effect with surrounding cedar shakes.

When it comes to repairing a cedar shake roof because of a leak or visible damage, homeowners are better off calling a professional who has experience with cedar shake roofs. They have special tools and know special techniques, which they’ve learned as best practices over the centuries. They can effectively repair single shakes or patches of the cedar roof needing attention. Power washing and removing shakes should be avoided.

When to Replace a Cedar Shake Roof

Cedar shakes become an attractive silvery gray color over time with weatherization and age. The unfinished rugged look is what differentiates them from a smooth shingle. Yet, eventually, even with proper maintenance and repair, homeowners will begin to see signs of it being time to replace their cedar shake roof.

These signs include things like: cracking, splitting, leaking, warping, and missing pieces. Many times these signs will only be confined to one section of the roof, which may mean a repair is in order instead. Yet, a repair of one section will create disunity with color and texture, which can be a reason for homeowners to replace the entire roof in addition to other damages or wear.

Basically, if the cedar shake roof is showing damage and heavy wear in many places, homeowners should consider replacing the entire roof. Patch repair in these cases will be costly, and the disunity created will negatively affect the aesthetic quality of the home. Also, repairing certain sections on a cedar shake roof needing total replacement will further stress the non-repaired sections over time.


Choosing to install a cedar shake roof is an exciting and beautiful option for homeowners. Not only does it look great, but also retains heat well, deadens sounds, is hail-resistant, and lasts up to 50 years! The best action for homeowners to take is to find a roofing partner with expertise in cedar shake roofing. This partner can be consulted about repairs and replacement questions.

For residents in Potomac, MD, Bethesda, MD, and across the metro Washington, DC areas, BRAX Roofing is the premium choice to make for this partnership. We have experienced tradesmen with expertise in cedar shake repair and installation, and our friendly service can help you answer any questions.

Avoid damaging your cedar shake roof with a faulty repair, and contact us today to gain clarity on whether it’s time to repair or replace your cedar shake roof.

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