There seems to be pockets of the country where cedar shake roofs have been one of the original roofing choices.
Usually, it resulted from a mix of nearby available natural resource and the climate of the area. The Portland area was a natural match for both. With an abundance of timber and a moderate climate, cedar was quickly enlisted as the material of choice, particularly on higher end homes. Recently, however, cedar has gotten a bad reputation in the Portland market. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of homeowners convert away from cedar roofs yearly, due in part to their reluctance to replace one short lived roof with what they fear might be another. Cedar is still a good option for a new roof, but you need to chose wisely. The problems with cedar roofs started in the 1970s and 1980s as drastic changes in the timber supply were occurring. The bottom line is that lower grades of cedar started getting used. This was coupled with builders, eager to profit from a boom after some difficult recessions in the past decade, did not pay enough attention to the quality of the roofing materials used. There was a high demand for a particular, quality look that cedar provides to a home just when the supply of quality cedar was waning.
Maintenance is the key to longevity and beauty with a cedar shake roof.
During this same period, a sub-industry was starting to expand. Roof cleaning companies started prospering from the abundance of cedar roofs in the Portland Oregon region. While all roofs need regular maintenance and protection against moss, results of a recently cleaned cedar roof are more obvious and dramatic. Unfortunately, most of the cleaning was done by companies that not only used power washing as the mechanism for cleaning, but the wrong type of power washing to boot. Too high of pressure and unskilled workers resulted in accelerating the deterioration of the roof and reducing the roof’s lifespan. Misuse of lower quality materials together with incorrect maintenance techniques resulted in thousands of Portland roofs having their expected life drastically reduced. This simple conclusion was to blame cedar.
How to make a cedar shake roof last 40 plus years.
There really is not that much to it. First, start off with quality shakes. At All Surface, we only use 100% vertical grain, premium shakes. Don’t be fooled by #1 grade shakes. It might sound good, afterall, what is better than #1? Premium, that’s what. If you can afford to, make the jump to the heavy shakes, the additional thickness of these shakes equates to an additional 10 t0 15 years of life. Next, avoid power washing the roof, even if it is touted as “high volume, low pressure” cleaning. While it is better than the high pressure machines used in the old days, it is still stressing the wood and removing a small layer of it. We only offer this method in extreme situations. The correct way to maintain a cedar roof is with a treatment that not only preserves the wood and keeps the moss off, but that actually does the cleaning action formerly done by the power washing. This type of cleaning method is radically more gentle to your roof. The trade off for this gentle cleaning is that it requires patience on the part of the homeowner – the treatment usually takes 3 to 9 months to lighten up and fully clean the roof. Not a bad trade off in my opinion. Ask us about our exclusive CedarGuard treatment – we will be glad to explain how it will benefit your roof and help maintain your home’s value.