How to Maintain a Wood Shake Shingle Roof


Roof maintenance for a wood shake roof is vital to ensure your home has a lasting roof. Proper maintenance will help you save money on costly roofing repairs and replacement costs. Maintaining your shake roof will also help you identify roofing problems early before they get worse.

A typical cedar roof should last 20 to 40 years. Barring natural disasters (fire, hail, tornados) proper maintenance will help extend the average lifespan of your roof. Maintaining your roof is equal parts knowing what to look for and how to prevent issues with proper maintenance. For knowing what to look for, click here to see this post on how to inspect your roof.


Safety is Top Priority

Before we talk about roof maintenance, let’s talk about safety. Much of what needs to be done for roof maintenance is on the roof. If you do not have proper safety equipment like harnesses, proper ladders and a means to get your tools safely on your roof, call a trusted contractor. In 2009, of 617 fatal falls, 38 percent were from ladders or roofs [1]. If you really want to get up on the roof, here is a good video from This Old House on ladder safety.

Understand the forces working against your roof

Maintaining your cedar roof requires understanding of the forces working against your roof. The sun, wind, rain and snow that your roof protects you and your home from, take a toll on your roof. The sun on your cedar shakes releases compounds within the wood that begin a slow process of degrading and weakening of the wood. The constant cycle of wet and dry, freezing and thawing from rain and snow alters the wood as well. Shakes swell when wet then contract as they dry. Additionally, rain and wind can carry small particles that can further stress the wood by exposing microscopic areas of new wood, gradually wearing the wood away. This can leave the wood open to organisms like mold, mildew and fungi which further degrade the shakes.

Lingering Moisture is your worst enemy

Of all of the elements battling your roof, the worst is lingering moisture. The faster and more completely your roof dries, the healthier your roof will be. Anything causing moisture to linger, like tree leaves or pine needles, needs be removed from your roof on a regular basis. Plant vegetation will hold moisture longer, promote mold and fungus growth which damage the shingles. Areas where the planes of your roof meet to form valleys are the most susceptible to plant debris gathering.


3 Major Annual Maintenance Tips for Your Cedar Roof

1. Keep your roof clear of debris

Keep your roof clear of debris, especially plant vegetation or anything else that will hold moisture.

2. Trim your trees

The shade provided to your home by your trees is great for keeping the temperature down inside on a hot summer day but that same shade will lengthen the time for your cedar shakes to dry out. Additionally, limbs rubbing against your roof will create wear spots and places for water to get under your roof shingles. Keeping your trees trimmed away your home will also reduce the amount of vegetation available to fall on your roof.

3. Clean your gutters

Gutters are designed to efficiently remove water from your roof. Gutters filled with leaves and debris will cause water to pool and back up onto lower portions of your roof promoting decay and algae growth. Clean gutters will keep the water moving away from your roof.

Just remember, whenever performing maintenance on your roof, your safety should always come first.

During the life of your roof, especially if you live in an area with high humidity or significant rain fall, you made need to treat your roof with a solution to combat mildew, algae and fungi. This is a good time to call your trusted roof contractor. A contractor will be able to treat the roof with the proper solutions that are safe for the environment while addressing the specific needs of your roof.

If you don’t have a trusted roofing contract, see our coming posts on the top questions to ask a roofing contractor and how to find a good roofing contractor.


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