No Fire Here: What to Know About Fire Retardant Cedar Shakes


Since the earliest days of building, wood has been a popular choice of construction material. Not only has it long been used to frame out structures, but it has also been used on the exterior as siding and roofing. Its popularity has stood the test of time because of the rustic, country-style beauty it offers.

Cedar shake roofs are a product that has been around since colonial times, giving homes across the country a unique look that just can’t be achieved with traditional asphalt shingles. But, that is not to say that real wood shakes do not come at a cost.

The Issue With Traditional Cedar Shakes

As beautiful as cedar shakes are, they are fairly expensive, especially when you consider that the cost of transporting them to areas where cedar wood is not so plentiful. But, in the grand scheme of things, this is not the biggest issue with regard to traditional cedar shakes.

The biggest issue you will find with wood shakes is their susceptibility to fire. Unless the shakes are treated with special chemicals, it is possible for them to catch on fire reasonably quickly. In fact, due to their susceptibility to fire, many states on the West Coast have made them illegal, since these are places prone to wildfires.

Now, however, there are alternatives like fire retardant cedar shakes available that allow homeowners to have the beauty of cedar shakes without the fear of them catching on fire and being destroyed within minutes.

What Are Fire Retardant Cedar Shakes?

Although they are called cedar shakes, fire retardant cedar shakes are not actually traditional cedar shakes at all, in most cases.

Usually, while these shakes and shingles look like traditional cedar ones, they are made of a synthetic material that is designed to be fire retardant. These synthetic shakes are a mix of composite materials like polyethylene, which is much more durable than traditional, untreated wood.

Classification of Fire Retardancy

When it comes to the fire retardancy of construction materials, like shakes and shingles, there is a specific classification system involved. Products can earn anywhere from a Class A rating, the highest level of fire retardancy to Class C, the least fire retardant.

The intense series of tests are done by certified, third-party labs, such as the Underwriters Laboratory, which is also primarily responsible for the safety testing of other products, like the impact resistance of various materials.

How They Earn Their Classification

Construction materials earn their fire retardancy classification based on how they perform under the testing parameters. To test them, roofing products, such as fire retardant cedar shakes, are placed on a non-combustible surface, and then passed over with a flame.

How far the flame spreads will determine the roofing material classification. In order to earn a Class A certification, the maximum allowance of flame spreading is 6 feet. It expands to 8 feet for Class B, and then 13 feet for Class C.

The slope of the roofing material being tested is predetermined, due to the fact that steeper slopes can pose a more significant challenge during testing. That said, the materials fire rating will apply to the maximum slope that is passed.

Fire resistance–that is the amount of time the product lasts before ignition, is also taken into consideration with regard to the fire rating. Roofing products with a Class A rating will last 2 to 4 hours before igniting. Class B roofing will last about one hour, while Class C will only last about 20 minutes.

CeDUR Fire Retardant Cedar Shakes


For those that want the cedar shakes, but the safety of more fire retardant materials, there are CeDUR fire retardant cedar shakes. Their synthetic cedar shakes are molded from real cedar wood shakes, so they maintain that traditional look, but are made with very strong polyurethane material.

Not only do their roofing shakes have a Class A Impact Resistance rating, but they also have a Class A Fire Rating. In fact, their shingles are unique in the fact that they self-extinguish fire spread.

Unlike other roofing products that have a Class A Fire Rating and use an underlayment system, CeDUR’s roofing shakes do not have an underlayment system, so it is the product itself earning a Class A Fire Rating, with the tests certified through the International Code Council (ICC).

As beautiful as things like traditional wood siding and cedar shakes are, they are dangerous due to their fire susceptibility. Many states, cities, and counties have banned these products for that reason, and advise residents to find fire resistant alternatives. For that reason, many companies are now putting an emphasis on fire-resistant construction materials. CeDUR is one company that is dedicated to creating beautiful fire retardant cedar shakes that look like traditional wood shakes, but are much safer and durable.

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