Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Cedar Shake Roof in Tip-Top Shape

Jacqueline Zenn
Written by Jacqueline Zenn
Updated May 23, 2023
A luxurious house with cedar shake roof
Photo: Alex Rublinetsky / Adobe Stock

Keep your cedar shake roof in fabulous shape with these must-know tips

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If you have a cedar shake roof, you know how aesthetically pleasing it is to see that natural, woody look atop your home. But these roofs are popular for more than their beauty. Thanks to their durability and UV resistance, cedar shake roofs can withstand harsh weather conditions. On the flip side, they tend to cost more than other types of roofs, and they also require more maintenance than common alternatives, like asphalt or aluminum. 

But there are ways to protect your cedar shake roof so it lasts for decades. Here’s what to know when it comes to maintaining these alluring, sturdy roofs.

Be Proactive With Inspections and Repairs 

If properly finished and maintained, a cedar shake roof can last for 30 to 50 years or more. But knowing how to clean it and scheduling regular inspections is essential for its longevity.

You can extend the lifespan of your roof by inspecting your roof every two or three years, and making repairs as necessary. After all, a cedar shake roof costs around $9,000 to $14,500 or more or between $6 and $9.50 per square foot, so you’ll want to protect your investment by being proactive with maintenance.

Look for Algae, Mold, and Fungus

Cedar shake roofs are popular in part because their shingles don't decay on their own. That said, problems start to arise when moisture gets in and forms lichens, fungus, mold, or algae on your roof. Mold or algae-infected roofs could also increase your energy bill and decrease your home's resale value. One more reason to check for these unwelcome organisms? Algae spores can spread to your neighbor's homes—and no one wants to be disinvited to the neighborhood block party.

Deep Clean Your Cedar Shake Roof

You should clean your roof shakes or shingles every five to seven years, even if it looks fine on the surface. If rough weather has come through your area, you should inspect the roof sooner rather than later—and you can often include cleaning in that process.  

Regular deep cleanings can boost your home's curb appeal and extend the lifespan of your cedar shake roof. If you decide to put your house on the market, a freshly maintained roof is a great way to boost interest and find buyers.

How Much Does Cedar Roof Maintenance Cost?

The cost of cleaning and repairing your cedar shake roof varies based on your location, the size of your roof, and its condition. On average, a roof cleaning costs between $300 to $600 or $0.20 to $0.60 per square foot depending on your location and the size of your roof. Minor roof repairs cost around $365.

How Else Can I Protect My Cedar Shake Roof?

Detail shot of a cedar shake roof
Photo: thirathat / Adobe Stock

Keeping your shingles nice and clean might be the most crucial aspect of owning a house with a wood-shingled roof. However, there are other things you should do if you own a home with a cedar shingle or cedar shake roof to have it last as long and look as stunning as possible.

1. Protective Treatments for Cedar Shake Roofing

Cedar shake roofs need protective treatments applied every one to three years. These treatments include water repellant and fire repellant, as well as fungicide and algaecide. A roofing professional can determine how to protect your cedar shingles based on your area’s climate and weather conditions.

2. Landscaping Maintenance

The trees and nearby bushes or shrubs can affect the integrity of your cedar roof. Overhanging branches from surrounding trees or shrubbery should be kept well-trimmed or removed, since they could easily fall and damage your roof during a storm or even a particularly windy day. Removing or trimming these branches can also help your roof dry more quickly, reducing the risk of mold or fungus.

3. Remove Rotting Shingles

Even though the cedar shingles on your roof are naturally water resistant, you still might find some wood rot and water damage on your roof if the moisture levels are high. Keep mold and rot away from your roof with the fungicide and algaecide treatments mentioned above and get regular roof inspections. Cleaning your gutters can also help prevent water from backing up onto shingles. If you have rotting shingles, you’ll need to hire a roofing pro to perform some repairs. 

4. Pest Control

If you have cracks or broken cedar shake roofing, you might find some unwanted guests in your home—rats and squirrels can take up residence and cause property damage. Hiring a pro to repair cracks and replace broken roofing can be worth it, especially when pests can get into your walls, chew up wood and wiring, create bad smells, and cause health risks.  

What Happens to My Cedar Roof If I Don’t Keep Up With Maintenance?

If you don’t regularly clean your roof, the cedar shakes can lose their integrity, which means that over time water will seep in and build up in the underlying structure. If that happens, you may have to pay for repairs or invest in the cost of a full roof replacement.

While you want to keep water from seeping into your cedar shingles, the wooden roof needs to breathe, so you should use water-repellent finishes instead of a sealant. 

DIY Cedar Shake Roof Maintenance 

If you are handy around the house and use safe ladder practices, you can handle some aspects of cedar shake roof maintenance yourself. However, if you know that your roof needs some serious deep cleaning, repairs, or more extensive work, consider hiring a local roofing repair pro who has experience with cedar shake roofs.

What Season Is Best for Performing Cedar Roof Maintenance?

Any time but chilly winter months is a good time for maintenance–no one wants to be up on the roof when it is snowy and icy. However, the fall might be ideal because it is essential to ensure that your cedar roof is protected from the elements before winter weather rolls in. 

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