Cedar shake roofing provides a natural look to homes, as well as insulation benefits, sound-deadening qualities, and an environmentally friendly option. Homeowners love the look and the practicality of cedar. However, this kind of roof comes with additional concerns when repairs must be made; you simply can’t climb a ladder, pluck out a shingle, and hammer another one in.
Here is everything you should know about cedar shake roof repair:
Shake or Shingle?
Before delving into the finer points of cedar roof repair, distinguishing between a shake or shingle is important. A cedar shingle is just that—a shingle, carefully cut to be tapered, thin, and evenly symmetrical. A cedar shake is thicker and rougher than a normal shingle and often features a rough, uneven surface. Look at your cedar roof: If it looks more three-dimensional, you likely own shakes.
When to Replace a Cedar Shake or Shingle
A tricky aspect of cedar shakes and shingles is that because they are wooden and meant to look natural, how do you know if they are damaged or just rustic? Here are some things to look for:
- If you see a crack or split with sharp edges and a light orange color within the split, the shake or shingle has been damaged by some sort of impact—possibly hail—and should be replaced. Some splits, defined by rounded edges and a dull orange or gray color, are part of the normal weathering process of the cedar; you can leave these cracks be if they aren’t too big and aren’t causing a leak.
- If a cedar shake or shingle curls upward, replace. Curling is normal as cedar ages, but when the roof is exposed because of it, bigger problems can arise.
- Lichen, moss, and algae that are left to grow unchecked can lead to bottom-edge rot, which in turn can lead to fraying. Shingles and shakes damaged this way should be replaced.
Threats to the Cedar Roof
A cedar roof is designed to last up to 50 years, depending on the quality of the wood. Yet, some threats might shorten that life span or at least damage individual shakes and shingles. Some of those threats are:
- Trees: Ironically, the wood above your house can damage the wood atop your house. Branches can grow into the roof and damage the shingles/shakes, and too much shade can result in a roof that takes too long to dry out after rain or snow, thus leading to dry rot.
- Debris: Leaves and other debris can collect on a roof and cause seepage, thus damaging the cedar via dry rot.
- Poor installation: If your cedar roof wasn’t installed correctly, problems can mount over the years. The shakes might have been too narrow or might have not had enough overlap, thus allowing water to seep underneath. Flashings may have been installed wrong as well.
- Sun and rain: The elements can take their toll on a cedar roof—shingles and shakes get wet, the sun dries out the wood, and cracks can occur over time. When the wood fails, the felt underneath may become exposed, and the potential of roof failure increases.
Call the Professionals
Cedar roofs provide an incredible aesthetic, practical, and valuable addition to your home. But they also come with challenges for homeowners attempting repairs on their own. Replacing a shingle or shake requires extreme care, lest the surrounding materials or the felt layer are damaged. A smarter approach is to use a quality professional roofer to perform the repairs. The best contractors will identify what must be replaced and what can be left alone, as well as make the fixes without damaging healthy shingles or shakes (or any other part of your roof). The expense will save you money down the line by ensuring your cedar roof lasts for years after the repair.
What kind of shape is your cedar shake roofing in?