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Cedar shake roofing

BRAX Roofing gaithersburg

If you like the idea of roofing your home with natural materials, cedar shakes are a low-cost alternative when compared to clay or slate. It hard to beat the aesthetic appeal of cedar shake roofing. Cedar provides a timeless, authentic look combined with superior wind and hail resistance.

A cedar shake roof is a suitable option given the weather extremes possible in Maryland and surrounding areas. Also, some housing developments and require cedar shake roofs to maintain property values and/or for aesthetic reasons.

Repair or Replace?

Although it is relatively simple to replace a few cracked shakes, it is still an invasive process. When someone removes multiple fasteners, surrounding shakes are stressed and under-layers are often compromised. As a result, a seemingly simple cedar shake replacement may actually make a given area of the roof more vulnerable to future leakage. Occasionally, it is best to replace a full row of cedar shakes even if just a single shake is the problem. Sometimes, a patchwork approach to getting more life out of an older roof is more trouble than it’s worth.

Cedar Shake Roof Replacement

When it is no longer cost-effective or efficient to repair more extensive damage, the need for a new roof arises. Most cedar shake roofs that are properly maintained often last 25 to 30 years. However, if you buy an existing home with a poorly maintained roof, its lifespan is often reduced. If your roof is aging , one or more of these problems may appear:

  • Constant leaks
  • Missing shakes
  • Damage or deterioration

Constant leaks

Leaks require professional assessment. It is possible that an older cedar shake roof will develop leaks due to issues with the sub-roofing or due to previous repairs. Occasionally, water travels along down along curtains surfaces, so its real source is not obvious. A professional’s input is often helpful.

Missing shakes

Although cedar shake replacements are relatively straightforward, it is important to understand why shakes are missing in the first place. Is it possible evidence of fasteners failing, improper installation or other underlying problems?

Damage and deterioration

Damage to cedar shakes is sudden or gradual. A roof may show signs of impact splitting or gradual cracking, curling or fraying over time:

Impact splitting

Sometimes, hailstones or other objects suddenly split cedar shakes. It is easy to identify such splits because they have sharp edges and a light orange interior. Roof damage caused by a severe hailstorm is often covered by your homeowner’s policy, so it’s always a good idea to immediately contact your agent when this type of damage is suspected.

Hairline cracking

Cedar naturally ages over time. Alternating wet-dry and freeze-thaw cycles cause expansion and contraction of the wood fibers. Hairline cracks inevitably appear, and they are a part of the natural aging process. However, splitting gets worse over time as previously tiny cracks grow larger and larger. Eventually, splitting requires cedar shake replacement.

Curling and cupping

Curling, or “cupping” as it is sometimes called, develops as a result of both moisture and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. When the outer edges of a shake curl, under-layers are often exposed to the elements. Also, a faulty installation may result in the premature appearance of curling, and a roof replacement is necessary sooner rather than later.


Consistently moist and/or shaded shakes are particularly vulnerable to rot along the bottom edges. Lichens, moss, algae and other microorganisms cause wood decay that compromises the look and effectiveness of cedar shakes.

Professional roofers know how to install a new cedar shake roof to maximize its effectiveness for decades to come. To learn more about the advantages of working with BRAX Roofing, please contact us.

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    Every Step of the Way
    • Meet to discuss your project and free estimate.
    • Select materials and colors for the look you want.
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