We install Natural cedar shake roofs, but more frequently, we remove cedar and replace it with asphalt shingles. The reason is usually that the shingles have warped significantly, opening up gaps between them, or because the cedar has deteriorated to the point of falling apart. In both instances, the roof is waiting the next high wind event, or wind driven rain.
Cedar comes in multiple grades, sorted for both thickness and the grain angle when the shakes were split from the logs. Vertical grain, like quarter sawn lumber resists warping and lays flatter than less perfectly cut shingles. It can be chemically treated for an extended life or for fire resistance, but not both.
Back in the day, Cedar was installed on slats that were the substructure of the roof. The reason was to allow air to keep the moisture from saturating the shingles. We’ve seen ancient roofing in downtown Frederick that was installed this way back in the day when the historic district was new construction. You can still see it in the attics downtown, although standing seam metal roofing has been installed over top of it many years ago.
On more recent structures, cedar is applied over plywood requiring a different method to allow air flow under the shingles.
You might imagine that thin strips of wood drying in the attic would be a fire hazard. That’s exactly what happened a few years ago when fire swept through the attics of several adjoining townhouses on Market Street. In the Frederick historic district.
Most Cedar roof jobs that we’ve seen use untreated shakes to form the roof. There are cedar roofs that can be installed to class A, B, or C fire ratings. the testing for these roofing systems require an ember to go out, or for an extended period of time for the ember to burn through the roof due to a specialized system of fire-resistant materials.
There are also synthetic cedar shakes that can be installed with additional fire ratings. These are generally Vinyl products where we are not confident of the color retention over time. You can drive through neighborhoods and see splotchy roofs that are supposed to look like cedar or slate.
You can see from the processes involved with cedar, that it is a beautiful, but costly, option for a roof. Be warned that if you are looking for the low bidder for natural cedar, cost saving short cuts and dramatically limit the life of your roof. If cost is an issue, look for a different type of roofing.
We have replaced several cedar roofs with asphalt architectural shingles in neighborhoods where the home owners association allows it.
The cost is a fraction of the cost of cedar, and the look of premium architectural shingles is very attractive.
We are credentialed by the manufacturer to install according to the practices required by the manufacturer. We are also enabled to offer extended warranties on the behalf of the manufacturer by following all the guidelines required.
These include using the top grade of products and accessories offered by the manufacturer, and making sure that the ventilation of the attic meets their stringent requirements. We’ve seen quotes from competing companies that do not include the necessary corrective ventilation required for warranty purposes. That means that should you have a claim for defective materials, manufacturers don’t have to honor the warranty. Your contractor will have to cover the warranty that they claimed to offer through the manufacturer, if you can find them.
If your contractor doesn’t inspect your attic, there is no way to know if the ventilation requirements are being met. I’m often told when I’m quoting a job that none of the other companies looked in the attic.
We also change roofs from cedar to asphalt when solar power is being installed, as cedar is not an appropriate to use with solar panels.
The choice of materials is yours, but be sure that you know what grade of materials is being used, and if the installing company is credentialed to do the work. We are all free to make our own choices about quality and price, but be sure that you know what you’re getting for your money,
23 West All Saints Street, Frederick , Maryland 21701
Phone: 301 712-5228