Cedar roof shakes have been one of the more popular roof coverings because they add natural beauty and instant appeal to any home they are used on. They are durable, natural, and add tremendous curb appeal. They remind most folks of the simple but classic Cape Cod look. However, those benefits come with a downside. Cedar shake life expectancy will only average 15-20 years unless you are willing to perform the regular maintenance required to keep them in tip-top shape. We will discuss the basics of caring for a cedar shake roof and then show you an alternative that will keep its beauty up to twice as long without the necessary care that is required for maintaining a cedar shake roof.
What are Cedar Shakes?
Wooden roofing has been around for hundreds of years and cedar has long been the preferred species for two reasons: it resists bug infestations and stands up well under all types of weather conditions if maintained properly. Cedar wood is a beautiful roofing product because of its natural color variations, variety of architectural applications and easy accessibility.
There are basically two types: wood shingles and wood shakes. Shingles differ from r shakes in their look and in the process used to produce them. Cedar shingles are machine-cut to give a smooth, uniform appearance and are tapered for a consistent look. They are often installed in straight rows much the same as asphalt shingles. Cedar shakes, on the other hand, are cut directly from the wood, resulting in uneven thicknesses and widths which is what makes them so desirable. While the color of a shake is similar to the cedar shingle, the shake’s bold profile and rough-hewn presentation make the roof the focus of the home exterior. Installed on a stately New England mansion or a mountain cottage in the wild, the cedar shake roof gives your home a European flavor that everyone loves.
What is the Average Cedar Shake Roof Life Expectancy?
The average life expectancy of a cedar shake roof is about 30 years according to industry data, and cedar shingle roof life expectancy will be about the same. In order to get this lifespan from real cedar, the roof has to be properly and meticulously maintained. There are many factors that go into determining the effective lifespan of a cedar shake roof:
- The type of cedar used.
- The quality of the cedar.
- How the roof is installed.
- The amount of vegetation overhanging the roof.
- How well the attic below is ventilated.
These are just a few of the factors that can produce a negative effect on your cedar shake roof life.
What Causes Deterioration?
A major source of damage and something that greatly decreases cedar roof life expectancy is ultraviolet light from the Sun. A recent USDA study reports:
“Ultraviolet radiation in sunlight degrades lignin at the surface. Lignin is the natural glue in wood that holds the cellulose fibers in place.” It is impossible to eliminate sunlight exposure to your roof, so many people apply treatments to their shingles to prevent this. The problem is that treatments themselves weaken the wood and eventually hasten the process of your cedar shingles needing to be replaced.
In addition to deterioration, cedar shakes can also suffer from cupping, wood rot, erosion, and splitting.
As the roof ages, mildew, mold and algae will grow on the wood. However, these do not hurt the wood, but will mainly affect the appearance, so you will have to provide periodic maintenance to keep your cedar roof clear of these cosmetic defects and in optimum condition.
Plant and Debris Removal
As discussed above, algae and mold are the primary fungus that will grow on your cedar shake roof, but if dirt is allowed to accumulate, you may find other types of plants thriving on your roof. The roots from these plants can cause serious degradation to your roof if not removed as soon as you see them sprout up.
Power washing is never recommended as the wood can be easily damaged by too strong of a spray and because it can force water up under the shingles providing opportunity for leaks to form.
The recommended cleaning method for a cedar shake roof is a scrub brush and a mild solution of sodium percarbonate or other oxygen bleaches because they cause less damage to the wood. The Cedar Bureau recommends using a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water. Apply it with a pump sprayer and let it sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off with a garden hose. Be sure to keep the hose pointed downward to avoid forcing water up behind the shingles.
A Better Alternative to Traditional Cedar Shakes
At Brava, we have long recognized the need for a composite shake shingle that would give you the beautiful roof lines of cedar shakes, and at the same time eliminate the countless issues that make natural wood shingles so difficult to maintain.
- Brava’s Cedar Shakes are made from 100% recycled material making them sustainable and renewable. They can be manufactured with both Class A and Class C fire ratings.
- If you live in an area that is prone to hail, hurricanes and tornadoes, our shingles carry a Class 4 Impact Rating which gives your roof superior protection and could save you money in costly repairs after a storm. Brava’s Cedar Shakes do not break like natural cedar shakes and do not require expensive equipment to install.
- Our composite Cedar Shakes do not absorb water – one of the chief problems with any wood product.
- Our Cedar Shakes can be made in almost any color and even custom color-blended to give you a totally unique look on your roof. Read more about our color story and the lengths we've gone to provide the best aesthetics possible.
Compare our synthetic shake tiles to the traditional version and see the difference for yourself, and be sure to try cedar shakes on your home with our visualizer!
The Long Life and Beauty of Cedar Shakes from Brava
If you want the look of cedar shake shingles on your roof but want to avoid the maintenance and potential damage that they can suffer, consider using our premium composite Cedar Shake. It is environmentally friendly and has a 50-year limited warranty. They require virtually zero maintenance, are more durable than wood, and offer various installation options like a straight-line pattern or staggered pattern for a classic cedar shake look.
We're happy to offer quotes, help you to find a contractor, and will even send a free sample for you to inspect. Order a complimentary lookbook or upload your home's image to our visualizer and see how it would look with our tiles!
Contact us today to see how we can update and upgrade your roof with modern and sustainable roof tiles, carrying the aesthetic of tradition.
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