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How Long Does a Cedar Shake Roof Last: Essential Lifespan Factors Explained

Cedar shake roofing has grown in popularity as a roofing material choice. People love its durability, look, and eco-friendly application. Not only are they made from split logs, but they also have a timeless appeal. If you're a homeowner, you might be wondering about how long does a cedar shake roof last—and that's what we'll talk about in more depth below.

Typically, a new roof will last anywhere from 20-40 years. Cedar shake materials and proper installation help lengthen its lifespan, which means that some roofs will last up to 50 years. This can be shortened by factors like location, climate, and maintenance. 

Ensure you use high-quality materials and hire a professional roofer for installation. Also, pay close attention to the roof's needs and fix issues as they arise. You'll enjoy the benefits for decades if you care for your roof. 

Factors Affecting Cedar Shake Roof Lifespan

Western red cedar is the most common wood used for cedar shake roofs. This is because it's resistant to decay and has strong durability. Although the quality can vary depending on the age, it's important to invest in good materials to ensure the longevity of your roof. 

Here are some things to consider when selecting cedar shakes for your roofing needs: 

  • Check the grade and type of cedar shake
  • Opt for wood harvested from sustainable sources
  • Choose heartwood as it is more resistant to decay and insects 

Climate and Weather Exposure

Weather conditions can vary the lifespan of cedar shake shingles. This can include high winds, rain, and extreme heat. To maintain your roof in the best way possible, here are some tips that can help: 

  • In areas prone to high winds, Install cedar shakes using nails and spacing to minimize the chances of wind damage.
  • In regions with heavy rains, ensure the cedar shakes have good ventilation to prevent moisture buildup and algae growth.
  • In areas with extreme heat, apply a fire-resistant treatment to the cedar shakes for extra protection.

Installation and Workmanship

Properly maintaining the roof is crucial to make the cedar roof shakes last longer. Be sure that it's installed properly and well-built right from the start. If you don't, you'll realize that improper installation will cause huge issues later. 

Leaks, bad ventilation, and weak spots will increase your overall cedar shake roof costs and damage durability. To get the proper care from the start, here are a few tips to remember: 

  1. Hire an experienced and qualified roofing contractor
  2. Make sure the contractor uses the correct techniques and tools for cedar shake installation
  3. Verify that the contractor adheres to regional codes and industry standards

Maintenance and Care for Longevity

Regular maintenance and inspections are essential to keeping a roof in good condition. You should look for signs of damage, such as missing shingles or moss growth, and clean debris like leaves, branches, and pine needles on a routine basis. These simple maintenance tips will help your roof last longer! 

Many people powerwash their roofs, but this is best handled by a professional as there is a chance of water damage or even damage to the roof. 

It's also recommended that you hire a roofing professional to inspect and clean your roof every two years. 

Repairing Damage and Replacing Shingles

The great part about roof inspections is that you can find issues before they become big problems. Once you find an issue, it's important to repair it immediately. If you delay repairs even more, wood decay or leak issues can become expensive! 

If you notice that your cedar shakes are starting to turn color, don't stress. This is normal and will typically happen as they age and weather. 

Preventive Measures and Treatments

Preventative measures are key to keeping your roof in good condition. Chemical treatments are a popular option that can help protect the wood from insects, decay, and fungi in the long run and prevent future damage. Treatment options can include: 

  • Fire retardants: Can reduce the risk of fire damage.
  • Moss inhibitors: Can prevent moss growth on your roof.
  • UV-resistant coatings Can shield from harmful ultraviolet rays and slow aging.

Comparing Cedar Shakes with Other Roofing Options

Knowing your options is important to making an informed decision before choosing cedar shakes. Even though cedar shakes are popular, take your time to compare them to other popular options as well. 

Let's talk about various comparisons to help with your decision-making! 

Cedar vs. Asphalt Shingles

Compared to asphalt shingles, cedar shakes are much prettier to look at. They give a home a rustic appeal and provide a warmer look. Asphalt shingles can be picked in different colors, making them customizable.

A cedar shake roof can last anywhere from 20-40 years, while asphalt shingles can last 15-30 years. Keep in mind that cedar shake roofs will require more maintenance compared to asphalt roofs, which can be something that homeowners need to consider. 

Wood vs. Metal Roofing

Most people think of cedar shakes when they think of wood roofing. However, metal roofing tends to be more modern, which is the opposite of the natural look of wood. Metal roofing comes in different metal options, like steel and aluminum, which offer great benefits. 

  • Aesthetic appeal: Cedar shakes provide a warm and rustic appearance, while metal roofing creates a sleek and contemporary look.
  • Durability: Cedar shakes have a lifespan of 20 to 40 years with proper maintenance. Metal roofs can last for 40 to 70 years with minimal maintenance.
  • Resistance: Metal roofs are highly resistant to fire, wind, and moisture, while cedar shakes are more likely to be damaged by insects, moisture, and fire and require additional treatments to increase their resistance.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

When considering all the roofing options, let's look at the breakdown of various costs. 

  • Cedar shakes: A 3,000-square-foot cedar shake roof costs between $18,000 and $25,000. Although it demands more maintenance than other roofing materials, it offers excellent aesthetic appeal and a decent lifespan of up to 40 years.
  • Asphalt shingles: An asphalt shingle roof is considerably more affordable than cedar shakes, with an average price of $6,000 to $8,000 for a 3,000-square-foot roof.
  • Metal roofs: The cost of a metal roof can vary widely, but it typically costs more than asphalt shingles and less than cedar shakes. 

When to Replace a Cedar Shake Roof

Maintaining a cedar shake roof can help it last 20-40 years. Some factors can be done to help lengthen its life, but at some point, you might have to consider replacing your roof. Here are some indicators to consider when it's time for a new roof or not:

  1. Signs of wear and tear: Aging and weathering can cause cedar shakes to crack, split, or become loose. Do regular inspections, especially after the weather, to check for damaged or missing shakes.
  2. Moss and algae growth: Moisture and shade can promote moss and algae growth on your cedar shake roof over time. While occasional cleaning can help control this issue,  growth can damage the shakes and shorten their lifespan.
  3. Leaky roof: A leaky roof is a clear sign that you may need a roof replacement. 

The cost of replacing your roof will vary depending on its size, shape, and slope. The quality of materials and labor rates in your area will also affect the cost. You can expect to pay between $600 and $1200 per square foot for a new cedar shake roof.

Be sure that you find the right roofing contractor to do the job. Here are some tips to help: 

  • Gather recommendations from friends, family, or online reviews
  • Verify their license, insurance, and experience
  • Get at least three estimates from other roofing companies
  • Ask for references and read reviews
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After a storm hit the roof of my building, it was in need of urgent repair. I called Andrew and his team to check it out. He got it done in no time and did not even charge us. He was punctual and professional. I would definitely recommend Low Cost Roofing.
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Andrew came to take a look at my roof. He explained to me that my roof didn’t have to be replaced yet, but he still provided me with a quote to replace it. His quote was lower than the 4 I received.
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Had an unexpected roof leak not too long ago and Andrew D. cooked up the A++ service. He came out to my house with the quickness to evaluate the issue with my roof and was very thorough about it.
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