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Cedar Shakes & Shingles

We've all seen that home, the one that stands out from the crowd that has the kind of curb appeal that creates a wow moment, and that home has a cedar roofing system. Apart from the rustic charm the roof exudes, it creates a statement that sets a home apart from the others. A natural look that reflects a complementary design to demonstrate the homeowner's personal sense of style is how we see a cedar roof. Yet understanding what is involved in buying a cedar roof can be a daunting task, but with a little guidance, the knowledge you need to make the purchase of your home's lifetime is made easy. To find the ease you need, we at AM Roofing Solutions have many years of experience advising homeowners of what they need to know and why they need to know it. Before you can make a purchase for a new cedar roof, you need to know that a cedar roof comes in two unique types: cedar shingles and shakes are the options and knowing the subtle differences will help with the decision-making process.

At AM Roofing Solutions your cedar roof education begins with a consultation and our knowledge encompasses more than 60 years of experience in the field to help with your decision. Once we installed the new roof on your home, our 10-year workmanship warranty will kick in for your investment’s protection.

What differentiates cedar shingles from cedar shakes?

Cedar Shingles

The major difference between cedar shingles and shakes is the size. Shingles are thinner than shakes and the finish is different also. A cedar shingle is smooth on both sides and tapered providing a tailored appearance when installed on a home. Shingles can be installed on the roof and sidewalls adding flexibility to the use of the material. The shingles can come in three different thicknesses: ¼” thick by 16” long, 3/8” thick by 18” long and ½” by 24” long. When buying wood products, you must be aware of the grade of the wood you are buying and cedar shingles come in four different grades to choose from. Taken from the heart of a tree is the 100 per cent edgegrain that has no defects, and it is considered the best grain to choose from. The second-grade is flatgrain with limited sapwood. This grade of shingle will contain some defects and a few knots and is used in re-roofing, walls or as a starter course. The third grade will include flatgrain and sapwood, have a few defects and knots and is used in a two-course application, for garden sheds, walls for outbuildings and gazebos. The fourth grade is undercoursing, considered a utility grade material used for double coursed sidewalls and it is not considered roofing material and is not to be used as a starter course for your roof. To understand the grain of cedar shingle, know that an edgegrain is cut perpendicular to the tree grain. This grain provides high quality, is stable and is unlikely to split or become distorted over time. The flatgrain is cut along the tree’s rings, is a little less stable than edgegrain, but more reliable than flashgrain. The final grain to review is flashgrain; it is cut perpendicular to the tree rings but is cut on an angle. Over time this grain can split or become distorted if not properly cared for.

Cedar Shakes

Cedar shakes come in three different types, heavy split and resawn, medium split and resawn, and tapersawn. Heavy split shakes are sawn on the backside while the face of the shake is split to show the natural wood face. The exposed shake is heavily textured and has a rustic or rugged appearance to it. These shakes come in four different thicknesses ¾”, 7/8”, 1”, and 1 ¼” or thicker. The medium split shake shares some qualities with the heavy shake shingle but it is not as thick. The medium shake still provides the textured look that is the signature of cedar roofs and it comes in ½” or 5/8” thickness. A tapersawn shake is cut smooth on both sides like a wood shingle, but it is thicker than a shingle. This type of shake extends a natural look, that is tailored and it accents the shadow line of the shake due to the thickness of the butt. A tapersawn roof enjoys a great deal of popularity based on the look of it and it comes in 5/8”, 7/8” and 1” thicknesses.

Positive attributes of a cedar roof

  • With a cedar roof, it is all about the look. You start with a beautiful wood grain that complements your home and as time passes the cedar ages to a beautiful grey, silver colour that demonstrates a mature home.
  • A cedar roof is a roof that will have a long shelf life. It outlasts man-made products like fibreglass or asphalt and it has a high degree of durability. Shakes and shingles are highly resistant to strong winds, repel heavy rain, and they are the protection you need in a severe snow or hailstorm.
  • Installing a cedar roof comes with a big dose of energy-efficiency – it provides natural insulation and will be two times more insular than an asphalt roof. The benefit can be found on your energy bill through the reduction of heating costs in winter and cooling costs in the summer.
  • Using wood for your roof shows a commitment to sustainability – you aren’t using man-made materials that come from asphalt or fibreglass and that has an immense benefit to the environment.
  • Cedar will stand up to humidity and hold its dimensions, considered a low-density wood material that is unlikely to shrink and it holds the hardware in place for a lasting installation.
  • Cedar is one of the strongest wood products available and is naturally durable. Making the investment in a cedar roof will increase the strength of the roofing system and that goes a long way to protecting your home.

Caring for a cedar roof

When you buy a cedar roof, you should know that you need to be doing some maintenance on the roof, like any other roofing system. But the time and energy you spend caring for the roof will extend the life of the roof.

Maintenance tips for a homeowner

  • Keeping debris off the roof is a challenge for any homeowner, removing tree needles, leaves and dirt from between the shingles or shakes will help protect your roof. Remember, if you have a chimney, debris can build up around it and start the decaying process for your roof, so take care to invest the time you need when cleaning off the roof.
  • If you see algae, moss or fungal growth, remove it – long-term exposure will create decay and repairs if you aren't paying attention.
  • Keep the roof free of overhanging tree branches or other obstacles that can shade your roof – cedar will need to dry from time to time and reduced sunlight will slow the process.

Once you have attended to the maintenance for cedar roof, you need to realize that the preservation of the roof is just as important as regular maintenance. Cedar contains many natural preservatives, but over time they wear off. You can have preservatives added to the shakes or shingles before they are applied, but the result will still be the same, erosion of the preservatives. Small investments in time and elbow grease will go along way to keeping your roof in pristine condition and blunt the effects of curling, cupping, splitting, decaying and fungal growth. Rain, sunlight, and moisture can take a toll on a cedar roof and with the application of preservatives, you can stop those elements from causing expensive repairs to your cedar roof. The last thing you want to be conscious about is the risk of fire – after all a cedar roof is made of wood and could be a source of hazard. One way to combat the problem is to have the shakes or shingles that will be installed with a treatment to make them fire-retardant. The application is made from non-combustible materials, chromated copper arsenate, or CCA has been in use for over 80 years to fireproof wood. You will know that you have the right shingles when you see a green tinge to the shingles or shakes, as the application leaves green hue behind. 


To get a free consultation, a free estimate and free roof inspection call AM Roofing Solutions today at 1.877.281.6900.

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