Cedar shingles or shakes have many different grades and cuts.
They are distinguished by Blue, Red and Black labels. Our knowledgeable staff will be able to assist you to choose which product is best for your roof.
Cedar Shingles and Cedar Shakes are two different things, although both are made of cedar.
Cedar Shake Roof
A cedar shake has a split face exposure on one side giving it a more rustic appearance. It is sawn smooth on the back.
Cedar Shingle Roof
A cedar shingle is sawn on both sides to give it a more tailored appearance. There is also a Tapersawn Shake. It is cut on a shingle saw but because of its size and thickness, it is called a Shake.
Read more about the differences between cedar shingles and cedar shakes.
Cedar Shingle Grades
The grade of cedar shingles varies. The highest grade is called a Number 1 Blue Label and this is the highest grade of shingles for roofs. They are made of 100% heartwood with 100% clear and edge grain. Heartwood is defined as the older, harder central wood of a tree that is usually darker, denser, less permeable and more durable than the surrounding sapwood of the tree. Sapwood is the younger, softer outer portion of the tree that is more permeable and less durable, lighter in color than heartwood.
A Number 2 Red Label cedar shingle grade is a good grade for many applications, but flat grain and limited sapwood are permitted in this grade.
Number 3 Black Label cedar shingles are a utility grade for economy applications and secondary buildings such as sheds, gazebos and sidewalls.
Number 1 and premium grades of cedar shakes and cedar shingles are available with preservatives via a pressure treatment process. They can also be purchased with pressure-treated fire retardants.
Cedar Roof Care and Maintenance
Cedar Roofs need to breathe, so have to be kept clear of leaves, branches and all debris. Both the surface area and the keyways (areas between the shakes or shingles) need to be clean. Don’t let downspouts drain onto a lower roof surface – all gutters and downspouts should drain to the ground. Take care when it comes to power washing a cedar roof. High-pressure washing can cause damage to any material. Sometimes the debris of a roof can be easily removed with a garden hose.
Cedar Roof Repairs
A good thing about a cedar roof is that it is sometimes possible to replace and repair parts of it, if it isn’t too old. Cedar repairs will eventually weather to the same coloration of the rest of the roof as it matures.
If you have a cedar roof and are reading this, it may be because you are wondering if your roof needs to be replaced. Or maybe it looks old and you are not sure.
Very often a cedar roof gets neglected; grows moss and holds tree debris in it. When that happens, the cedar roof can look quite bad.
We have inspected and cleaned many cedar roofs at Absolute Roof Solutions and often found that some are in good shape and still have life left in them.
Signs of Problems With a Cedar Roof
There are some signs to look for though. Severely cupped or curling shingles; or tattered or frayed ends that look like they are rotting. Also, many cracked shingles or shingles are loose or broken. Another sign of wear or old age are that the ridge caps may have come loose, or worse, have completely fallen off.
Depending on the age of the cedar roof, these signs may not signify that you need a new roof. But, all of these together means that you should get a qualified inspection to determine if there is a need for a roof replacement.
If the roof was shingled with a high grade of cedar, per the notes above, there will be very little curling, not much cracking, but maybe a bit of frayed or tattered edges. The ridge caps may have completely fallen off but the roof shingles may still be in good shape. Thus some competent maintenance is required and it will bring your cedar roof back for years to come.
If the Cedar was a lower or poor grade, not only may the ridge caps be breaking and coming loose, but some of the shingles may be cupping, rotting or cracking.
This could be the ‘many indicators’ that show a worn out cedar roof. As the roof becomes older and older it becomes ever increasingly difficult to repair. Sometimes a person walking on the roof to repair it can cause more damage than they can repair. The roof can also be unsafe, as the shingles can break or fall apart while the person is trying to do repairs.
Interesting Properties of Cedar Roofs
Cedar has some very interesting properties as well. Sometimes in the late summer after the first rain, a home may experience a leak. Then through the whole winter, the leak is never seen again. This is because, when the cedar is dry it can shrink a little and at the first season rain, the water drips in before the cedar has had a chance to soak in the liquid and swell. When wet, the cedar swells slightly and that can sometimes seal the crack.
Over the last century, the British Columbia area, including Vancouver, has produced Roof Cedar for cities all over North America. You can still buy true high-quality cedar for roofs, contrary to many opinions that there is no more good cedar left.
Cedar is a beautiful natural roof. There are many attributes to shingles and shakes that come into play when deciding the proper roofing material for your home.
To find out how we can help you with your cedar roof, call us at (604) 263-0334 or fill out our form.