How do you maintain a cedar shake roof

Cedar shake roofs are renowned for their natural beauty, durability, and eco-friendliness. However, maintaining a cedar shake roof is crucial to ensure its longevity and performance. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the essential steps and best practices for maintaining your cedar shake roof, ensuring it remains in pristine condition for years to come.

Understanding Cedar Shake Roofs

What is a Cedar Shake Roof?

A cedar shake roof is made from natural cedar wood, typically split or sawn from logs. Cedar shakes are known for their rustic appearance, excellent insulation properties, and resistance to harsh weather conditions. This type of roofing adds an aesthetic charm to any home, making it a popular choice among homeowners.

Benefits of Cedar Shake Roofs

  • Durability: Cedar shake roofs can last up to 30-50 years with proper maintenance.
  • Natural Insulation: Cedar wood has natural insulating properties, keeping your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
  • Eco-Friendly: Cedar is a renewable resource, making it an environmentally responsible roofing option.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: The natural look of cedar shakes enhances the beauty of your home, providing a timeless and classic appearance.

Maintenance Tips for Cedar Shake Roofs

Maintaining a cedar shake roof involves regular inspections, cleaning, and preventive measures to protect it from damage and extend its lifespan. Here are the essential maintenance tips:

1. Regular Inspections

Frequency of Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your cedar shake roof at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall. Additionally, inspect the roof after severe weather events such as storms, heavy rains, or strong winds.

What to Look For

  • Missing or Damaged Shakes: Look for shakes that are cracked, split, or missing. Replace damaged shakes promptly to prevent water infiltration and further damage.
  • Moss and Algae Growth: Check for signs of moss, algae, or mold growth, which can retain moisture and lead to rot.
  • Debris Accumulation: Remove leaves, branches, and other debris that can trap moisture and cause decay.
  • Nail Pops: Ensure that nails are secure and not protruding, as this can cause leaks.

2. Cleaning the Roof

Removing Debris

Keep your cedar shake roof free from debris such as leaves, branches, and dirt. Use a soft-bristle broom or a leaf blower to remove debris gently. Avoid using pressure washers as they can damage the shakes and strip away the protective oils.

Treating Moss and Algae

If you notice moss or algae growth, treat it with a mixture of water and oxygen bleach. Apply the solution using a garden sprayer, allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes, and then gently scrub with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly with water.

3. Protecting Against Moisture

Ensuring Proper Ventilation

Proper attic ventilation is crucial for preventing moisture buildup and ensuring the longevity of your cedar shake roof. Ensure that your attic has adequate ventilation to allow moisture to escape and prevent condensation.

Installing Zinc or Copper Strips

Consider installing zinc or copper strips along the ridge of your roof. When it rains, trace amounts of metal are released, inhibiting the growth of moss and algae.

4. Repairing and Replacing Shakes

When to Replace Shakes

Replace any shakes that are significantly damaged, curled, or missing. Ignoring damaged shakes can lead to leaks and structural damage to your roof.

How to Replace Shakes

  1. Remove the Damaged Shake: Use a hammer and chisel to carefully remove the damaged shake without disturbing the surrounding shakes.
  2. Prepare the New Shake: Cut the new shake to the appropriate size and shape to fit into the gap.
  3. Install the New Shake: Slide the new shake into place and secure it with galvanized nails. Ensure that the nails are driven into the shake, not the existing shakes around it.

5. Applying a Protective Treatment

Wood Preservatives

Consider applying a wood preservative to your cedar shake roof to protect it from moisture, UV rays, and pests. Choose a product specifically designed for cedar wood and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.

Staining and Sealing

Staining and sealing your cedar shake roof can enhance its appearance and provide additional protection. Use a high-quality, breathable stain that allows the wood to breathe while protecting it from the elements.

Professional Maintenance Services

While regular DIY maintenance is essential, professional maintenance services can provide a more thorough inspection and treatment of your cedar shake roof. Consider hiring a roofing professional for an annual inspection and maintenance to ensure your roof remains in optimal condition.

Choosing a Professional

When selecting a roofing professional, consider the following factors:

  • Experience: Choose a contractor with experience in maintaining cedar shake roofs.
  • Reputation: Look for reviews and testimonials from previous customers to ensure the contractor has a good reputation.
  • Licensing and Insurance: Ensure the contractor is licensed and insured to protect yourself from liability.


Maintaining a cedar shake roof requires regular inspections, cleaning, and preventive measures to protect it from damage and extend its lifespan. By following these maintenance tips and considering professional services, you can ensure that your cedar shake roof remains beautiful and functional for many years.

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