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What is a Cedar Shake Roof? (4 Things You Need to Know About It)

October 9th, 2020 | 5 min. read

What is a Cedar Shake Roof? (4 Things You Need to Know About It)

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Are you ready for a new roof that stands out more than the standard asphalt roof? Have you noticed those great looking wood shingle roofs in your neighborhood? If so, the wooden roof you're admiring is a cedar shake roof. 

But what is a cedar shake roof? Luckily I’m going to break it down for you. 

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has been replacing all types of roofs (including cedar shake) for the residents of Nashville since 1990. We know what it takes to give you a new roof that’ll last for decades. When you work with us, you’ll never worry about your roof again.  

So, what is a cedar shake roof? Always eager to educate, I’m going to answer that question and more. 

Continue reading to learn what a cedar shake roof is and 4 things you need to know about it. 

What is a cedar shake roof?

A cedar shake roof is a premium roof system made of natural wood (cedar) materials. While it serves the same functions as an asphalt or metal roof, it’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing roof’s you’ll see. That’s what sets a cedar shake roof apart from the more common roof types.  

cedar shake roof

The shingles are made out of cedar trees that come from the Northwest United States or Southwest Canada. To make these shingles, they take large cedar trees and cut them into 2-foot sections and hand splitting them or sawing them into a tapered thickness (tapersawn). Hand split gives you a more rugged look, while tapersawn is a much smoother look. 

There are 3 grades (types) of cedar shake shingles. There’s common, selects, and 100% straight grain (more on these later). 

Be aware, the manufacturers of cedar shakes don’t keep stockpiles of the shingles. They’re made to order, which means they don’t split or saw them until an order is placed. Because of this, it could take 3 to 8 weeks to get the materials for your cedar shake roof. 

4 things you need to know about a cedar shake roof

Now that you know what a cedar shake roof is there are some important things you need to know about it. Continue reading to learn the 4 things you need to know about a cedar shake roof. 

1. The 3 grades of cedar shake shingles 

Remember, there are 3 grades of cedar shake shingles. They are common, selects, and 100% straight grain. 

Common grade is the cheapest and most inferior of the 3 types. They’re randomly cut and made out of any part of the tree (basically the leftovers of other cuts). These cedar shake shingles will be the first ones to split and warp. 

The next grade of cedar shake shingle is selects. These shingles will be a mix of the 2 other types of grades, somewhere around 80% straight grain and 20% commons. Your roofing contractor should go through the selects to find the best quality cedar shingles to install on your roof. 

The third and best quality grade of cedar shake shingles is 100% straight grain. Each one of these is hand-selected and straight grained. When the grain is straight, the shingles lay flat and you don’t have to worry about them curling up. 

If you’re already investing in a new cedar shake roof, I recommend spending the extra little bit of money and go with the 100% straight grain grade cedar shingles. 

2. How long a cedar shake roof will last?  

The lifespan of your roof is how many years you get out of it. When you invest in a new roof, you’re expecting to get as much life out of it as possible. 

The same goes for your new cedar shake roof. But how long will it actually last? 

As long as it’s properly installed and with proper maintenance, you can expect to get 30 years out of your cedar shake roof. If you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the right conditions, you could possibly get up to 50 years out of it.

If you live in an area with a very moist or dry climate, it might not last as long. The climate in our area of Nashville is great for a cedar shake roof, but somewhere with a much more humid climate can cause the shingles to age faster. 

3. What are your warranty options on a cedar shake roof? 

When you invest in a new roof, you’ll have two warranties. You’ll have one on the contractor’s workmanship and one from the manufacturer on your roofing materials.

However, cedar shake shingles are naturally made so there’s no manufacturer warranty on the materials. This leaves you with only your contractor’s workmanship warranty to rely on for your cedar shake roof. 

Because of this, it’s crucial to hire a high-quality local roofing contractor that stands behind their work. A contractor’s workmanship warranty can be anywhere from a tail light warranty (as soon as you see their company truck’s tail lights disappear, your warranty is gone), to a two-year, five-year, 10-year, or even a lifetime warranty. 

To get the best roof possible, you should always look for a contractor that offers you a lifetime warranty. To learn more about roof warranties, read this article on what roof warranties cover

4. A cedar shake roof needs regular roof maintenance

Your car needs its oil changed to keep it maintained and running smoothly, the same goes for your roof. After you get a new cedar shake roof, it’s important to have it periodically checked over.

Whether it’s once or twice a year, regular roof maintenance ensures you get the most life out of your cedar shake roof. It will catch any problems with your wooden shingles and prevent future leaks before they can cause damage to your home. 

It’s also a chance to clear your roof and gutters of any debris. Wet debris sitting on your cedar shake roof will shorten the lifespan of your cedar shingles. Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial to keep your roof running smoothly throughout its life with roof maintenance. 

To learn more about why roof maintenance is crucial to your cedar shake roof, read this article on why regular roof maintenance is important

How much will a cedar shake roof cost?

You just learned what a cedar shake roof is and 4 things you need to know about it. After reading this your better equipped to decide if a cedar shake roof is right for you. 

But there's still one more important thing we didn't cover, that's how much a cedar shake roof costs. We don't shy away from answering pricing questions like the rest roofing industry, that's why we wrote another article breaking down the cost and what impacts the price.  

The team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roof replacements in the Nashville area since 1990. Our workmanship ensures that your new cedar shake roof’s life is maximized. That’s why we offer a lifetime warranty.  

To learn how much you'll have to invest in a cedar shake roof, check out How Much Will Your New Cedar Shake Roof Cost? (Price, Factors, & More)

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