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Cedar, shakes or shingles, how to decide

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When we think of covering for our roof, there are a plethora of materials to choose from. Composite, fibreglass or asphalt shingles are common applications for roofing systems. If you decide to move up, you can purchase slate shingles and they will last for 100 years – but you won’t own your home for a century so apart from the aesthetic value, a cost-conscious homeowner may not make the investment because the equity return just isn’t there. Cedar shingles and shakes are an option that can provide a level of value and are a statement that says your home is a cut above. One thing to remember, the cost of a cedar shingles or shakes roof is higher than the other materials that were mentioned and costs are driven by the materials and the installation process for cedar shingles or cedar shakes. The variable costs – based on roof square footage can run from $12,000 - $25,000 dollars so it a decision that you don’t want to take lightly when you’re thinking about an upgrade of that nature. At AM Roofing Solutions, we would like to share our experience and expertise when you are trying to make a decision for replacement shingles for your roofing system. If we can direct you to the right decision, it is something that you will only do once – and let's remember it isn’t about the price, but what results that will be produced by the decision for a new cover for your roof. The factors that will influence your decision for cedar shingles or shakes are the types – shingles or shakes – grain, style and other factors. Shake or shingle roofs perform differently when it comes to durability, and their capability to protect your home against weather events. At AM, we want to provide you a list of options that we have available before you buy because the selection of a cedar shingle or shake roof is an expensive proposition.    

 

Compare and contrast, shingles vs. shakes

•    When you look at cedar shakes and cedar shingles, the eye test will tell you a lot about each product. The cedar shingle has a smooth surface and a will create a uniform look across the entire span of your roof. Cedar shakes have a rugged look about them and each piece is slightly different when you look at the texture and appearance of each shake.

•    A cedar shingle is cut from a block of wood with a saw, at least for the past 50 years. Cedar shakes are carved off or split off a block – the process is completed with a mallet and a sharp blade.

•    As technology has advanced, it has produced a manufacturing process that sees the cedar shingle machine made. They are cut smooth on both sides and tapered to size for installation. For a cedar shake, it is cut by a saw on one side and is split of a block on the other by hand.

•    Size is also a factor; a cedar shake is larger than a shingle. The cedar shake is 1.25cm – to 2cm thick or greater at the butt end of the shake. A cedar shingle comes in at 1cm – 1.25cm thick.

•    From a decorative standpoint, cedar shingles marry well with classic style homes like Colonials, Victorians and Ranch styles. Cedar shakes look great with Cabin and Cottage style homes.

 

The cost associated with cedar shingles and cedar shakes

There is a big difference between costs when installing cedar shingles and cedar shakes. Cedar shakes are considered a premium product that is more difficult to install and the cost of installation can be two times higher than cedar shingles. The cost for an average-size cedar shake roof can be as high as $24,000 - based on 2,100 square footage - and the finish type and options that you select. A cedar shingle roof will be cheaper and come in about $5000 cheaper when you look at the comparable options involved.

 

Wood grain, why it is important

Before you purchase a wood material roof, you need to understand wood grain and why it is important when making your purchase.

The edge of the wood is important, when it is cut in perpendicular fashion it offers stability – least likely to split or distort over time – and of the highest quality.

Another manner in which wood is cut is a flat cut – meaning it is cut with the grain as opposed to against the grain as an edge cut is. The problem with a flat cut is that is will split over time and is less stable than an edge cut. A slash cut is the least stable cut of all; it is done perpendicularly at an angle and is the least stable of the three different types of cuts.

 

Shingle options

When purchasing cedar shingles, for best results it is recommended that be installed on a roof with a pitch that is 3:12 or higher. Cedar shingles offer the option of thickness and lengths and wood grades to choose from. As far as thickness and grade go there are three types available: fivex, .6cm by 37.5cm, perfection, 1.75cm by 45cm and royal, 1.25cm by 60cm. The grading system for wood runs from one to four and indicates the wood origin in relation to the cut. Grade one wood is the premium cut and comes from the heartwood of the tree with a 100 per cent edge grain with zero defects. Grade two wood is wood of good quality and is cut in a flat grain. Some sapwood will be present with a few defects and some knots. This grade is common in the installation process for walls and as a starter course. Grade three wood is wood on a budget, it can include sapwood and is a flat grain cut. There will be some knots and defects in the clear area and it is the undercourse for a two-stage application. It’s primarily used for outbuildings, sheds, and garden walls. Grade four wood is an undercourse utility grade wood that is the underlay for a two-course installation. This is not considered roofing material and cannot be a product for a starter course for any application.

 

Shake options

A contractor will recommend that shakes be installed on a roof with a pitch or slope of 4:12 or higher, and all shake cuts comes from grade one, heartwood only with zero defects. When you choose cedar shakes, know that you have an option of three different types for your roofing system. The heavy split and resawn option are smooth on the back (cut by a saw) and the front is split with a mallet and sharp edge. The manufacturing process creates a highly rugged surface that is instantly recognizable. The cedar shake comes in four thickness types: 1.80cm, 2.10cm, 2.5cm and 3.25cm. Next type of cedar shakes is the medium split and resawn shake. It bears a striking resemblance to the heavy split, but it isn’t as heavy or as thick – it comes in 1.25cm 1.50cm thick. The third variety of shake is the tapersawn shake; it is smooth on both sides and thicker than a shingle. You can enjoy the cedar shingle look but it has a more distinct shadow-line that is the product of a thicker butt. This is the most widely purchased shake and its thickness ranges from 1.50 cm, 2.10cm and 2.5 cm.

 

When only the best will do, premium shingles and shakes

If money is no object for your roof covering using cedar products, you can choose from a number of materials that are as decorative as they are functional for your home. The fancy-butt shingles are made of a number of different shapes that are ideal for the accents you want to install on the roof to make it POP. The jumbo shake is a special order product and it is larger than 2.5cm. Because a cedar shingle or shake roof covering is susceptible to fire, they can be ordered with Class A, B, and C fire- retardant materials added. Generally, made with polymers, the shakes and shingles are more fire resistant and come with a Certi-Guard label as verification of the process. Fungal decay is a problem for wood roofs, and you can purchase shakes and shingles that are treated with preservatives to extend the life of your roof. When you purchase this option, it will come with the Certi-Last label. One thing to add, you can’t have your shakes or shingles treated for both fungal protection and fire protection it is an either-or proposition.

 

At AM Roofing Solutions, we want to guide you through the purchase process to help you buy the best package to suit your needs. We have over 60-years experience steering our customers in the right direction that comes with a 10-year labour warranty when will complete your new cedar shingle or cedar shake roofing system.

Turn to us for free inspection, no-cost meeting and free estimate when making the call to our office today at 1.877.281.6900. 

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