Cedar shake roofs are one of the oldest roofing materials in use and have been around for centuries.
In the earlier days, the shakes were laid on top of lathing strips, which were spaced to allow the shakes to dry. As a result, cedar roofs lasted for generations. Cedar or redwood shakes last because they do not decay easily. Only moisture and some serious infestation can cause the shakes to decay. The shakes can be infested by molds, lichen, mildew, or fungi. The way to ensure a cedar shake roof lasts is to clean and maintain it properly.
The Danger of Moisture
Cedar shake roofs that were installed over the past 30 years have a common drawback with regards to the installation itself. Today, lath installations are no longer used; roofs are installed on top of decking with a lining underneath. Though the roof felt is a great water barrier, improper spacing between the roof felt and the shakes can result in improper drying of the shakes. This causes the shakes to retain moisture and they become susceptible to infestation. Irregular and improper cleaning and maintenance can cause the shakes to lose their integrity, leading to water damage.
Importance of Regular Maintenance
A cedar shake roof has a potential natural life-span of 40 to 60 years, but it must be maintained regularly. If the roof is not cleaned or maintained well, you will start noticing the presence of dark brown to black colorings of fungi or the green colorings of mold or moss. At this point, some homeowners opt to have the roof replaced when all it needs is a thorough cleaning. Once a roof is properly cleaned and the moisture removed, the integrity of the roof is preserved. A thorough cleaning of the roof should last for a period of 6 to 8 years.
If you choose to stain your cedar roof, it may increase your home’s curb appeal, but it does not have much effect on the longevity of the roof. Cedar shake roofs should never be sealed because this will keep the shakes from getting adequate air that they need to keep dry.
Cleaning a Cedar Shake Roof
When cleaning the roof, make sure there is no debris left in the valleys and there are no over-hanging trees that may shade the roof and preserve moisture. In addition, ultraviolet light can cause deterioration of the roof felt so it is advisable to replace missing shakes so that the roof felt is not exposed.