Cedar Shingles

All About Cedar Shingles

There are two types of cedar roofing: shingles and shakes. Often referred to interchangeably, there is a difference. Shingles are machine-cut and tapered for a trim, crisp appearance. Shakes are hand-split, giving them a more rustic appeal. Functionally, the most important difference between cedar shakes and shingles is that shingles are milled more precisely than shakes. Cedar shakes are more irregular, and don’t lay as flat when installed. This creates gaps which can be penetrated by wind blown precipitation so professional installation is a must.

If you have a traditional or historical style-home, a cedar roof will increase its aesthetic appeal, creating a more natural look that weathers to a beautiful silver-gray. Due to fire risks, cedar roofing has declined in popularity, but new shingles and shakes are now treated with fire retardant, making them a safer option. Cedar shingled roofs are also a great option for high wind areas and for roofs with a steep pitch.

The lifespan of your cedar shingled roof is highly variable depending on your local climate, the type of wood used, and the thickness of the cut. Generally, the thicker the cedar shingle, the longer lasting. Cedar shingles come in a variety of grades, largely based on where the wood is cut from, the center of the tree being the strongest part, and also the priciest.

Beyond its unique aesthetic appeal, one of the primary benefits of a cedar shingled roof is its relatively low weight compared to other roofing materials. Compared to clay tiles or slate, cedar shingles weigh very little, yet still offer adequate strength and moisture protection. This light weight allows the shingles to be installed on standard roof framing, with no need to add extra strength and support to the structure.

Cost of Cedar Shingles

Wood shingles costs between $400 and $700 per square installed, while a shake roof runs between $600 and $900—making them significantly more expensive that a traditional asphalt shingled roof. It’s important to note, too that this estimate doesn’t include the cost of demolishing and removing an existing roof.

Eco-Friendly and Energy Efficient

Cedar shingles are made from natural, renewable materials that are biodegradable. They offers some energy benefits, too. They help to insulate the attic, and allow the house to breathe, circulating air through the small openings under the felt rows on which shingles are laid.

cedar shingles

Maintenance of Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles and shakes require periodic treatments with preservatives and fungicides in order to keep from drying out, warping, cracking and being attacked by mildew, insects, and fungus. Additionally, spray-on fire retardants don’t last more than a few years, so anticipate regularly recoating your roof to prevent your risk of fire.

Common Concerns with Cedar Shingles

While the traditional look of cedar is very popular, cedar shingles do require regular maintenance, can be vulnerable to fire, and even with proper maintenance only last about 20 years. If you’re worried about the lifecycle of cedar shingles, you may want to explore synthetic shingles that resemble cedar but require less maintenance, and are more weather-resistant, longer-lasting and fire resistant.If you live in California, Colorado, or Texas wood roofing may be banned in your municipality due to fire concerns. There may be exceptions if they are made out of pressure treated lumber which is more fire resistant. Check with your local town or state agency.

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