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Roof Maintenance

8 Steps to Maintain Your Cedar Shake Roof

November 29, 2021 | 5 min. read

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When you decided to put a cedar shake roof on your home, you had a vision for your home. You wanted that warm and unique look that a cedar shake roof can offer.

There is no doubt that cedar shake roofs are stunning. But after a while, you may have noticed that your roof isn’t in the best of shape. Leaving you wondering: “how much maintenance does a cedar shake roof need?”

The answer: a lot. Cedar shake roofs are amongst the most notorious roof types for the high amount of maintenance they need to stay in top-notch shape. 

What once was a beautiful roof is now lying under a layer of grime and dirt. You may feel like the enormous financial investment you’ve made in a new roof is wasted.

We’re here to tell you: it’s not. Rescue My Roof has spent over a decade in the roofing industry serving the greater Milwaukee area. Our time in the business has been filled with educating people just like you who struggle with how to do roof maintenance on complicated roof types. 

Here are the eight things you need to do to keep your cedar shake roof in the same shape as when you bought it. 

How to Maintain Your Cedar Shake Roof 

If the sales representative went over the maintenance with you, you might have realized cedar shake roofs are a lot more complex than you originally anticipated. 

We’ve broken the maintenance down into eight easy steps you can follow at home to keep your roof looking as new as the day you got it. 

1. Algaecide, Fungicide, and Water/Fire Repellent Treatments

Cedar shake roofs are made with wooden shingles, making them highly susceptible to moisture damage, fire, algae, and fungi. 

Once the damage has been done to the roof or algae and fungi have begun to grow, it can be a complicated problem to remedy. If you have already noticed the growth or damage on your roof, you may have to call in a professional and spend additional money on repairs.

After shelling out the money to purchase the roof of your dreams, it’s not fun to have to spend even more on repairs. 

That is why you must treat your cedar shake roof with water and fire repellents, fungicide, and algaecide treatments to prevent the damage from ever happening.

These treatments should be done every one to three years to keep your roof in excellent condition. 

2. Remove Overhanging Tree Branches

Overhanging tree branches don’t sound very menacing – but they can be a big problem for your roof.

Overhanging tree branches cause shade, and with shade comes moisture. Without the heat of the sun, your cedar shake roof can retain moisture and rot. 

It is best to remove overhanging branches to clear the way for your roof to get all of the sun it needs. 

Additionally, overhanging tree branches can cause an increase in algae growth. This is something you will want to avoid.

To get the maximum life out of your roof, remove those pesky tree branches. 

3. Clean Off Debris Regularly

Any debris on your roof can retain moisture, and for wooden shingles, that will mean your roof can rot faster than a typical cedar shake roof. 

Rotten shingles can lead to costly repairs. It is best to avoid the issue altogether by regularly cleaning off debris from your roof every few months. 

Keeping your roof clean of clutter and debris will keep the moisture content of the shingles where it needs to be (approximately 10 to 20 percent) and reduce the risk of mold and algae growth. 

4. Gutter Maintenance Is Essential For Your Cedar Shake Roof

When your gutters are full of debris, it can interrupt water flow and lead to stagnant water and overflowing gutters.

This is a problem on any roof type, as overflowing gutters can increase the risk of water pooling at the foundation of your home. Eventually, that water will find a way in and leak into the basement.

However, gutter maintenance is especially important for cedar shake roofs. Any extra moisture near the roof is harmful, and that includes the gutters. 

Clean your gutters seasonally to ensure the best results with your cedar shake roof. 

5. Inspect Your Roof After Bad Storms

If you live in an area known to experience severe storms, you will want to inspect your roof after the storm.

After bad storms, hail, or even snowfall, the shingles could be damaged or cracked and need to be replaced. 

This will be an additional repair cost that you should factor into your budget when deciding to get a cedar shake roof. They are high maintenance and require frequent repairs, so you will want to be prepared should anything go wrong. 

If you do not catch the damage in time or fail to repair the damaged shingles, it lowers the effectiveness of your roof. You might experience issues with leaks or even rotten wood. 

Catch the damage in time by inspecting your roof after the weather gets bad. 

6. Pest Control

Our furry friends may look cute, but don’t let that deceive you – when given a chance to chew through your roof, they will. 

Rats and squirrels can chew through the wooden shingles on your roof. The damage can lead to issues with leaks and rotten shingles, and decking.

If it’s too late to prevent the damage, the affected shingles will need to be replaced. 

However, the best way to keep your roof healthy is to avoid this issue altogether. Call in some pest control experts to evaluate the situation and give you the best tips to ensure your roof’s safety from pests. 

7. Replace Rotting and Cracked Shingles

Damaged Cedar Shake Shingles

This is a recurring theme through the cedar shake maintenance process, but it is an important one.

We’ve covered many ways to avoid cracked and damaged shingles, but there is a very important reason as to why we say to replace them over and over again.

Failing to repair or replace rotting and damaged shingles leads to further complications on your roof. You may end up spending thousands of dollars towards repairs when the problem could have been avoided by doing repairs earlier on. 

When you see damage on your roof – don’t ignore it. Save yourself the emotional toll and money by calling your roofing contractor to fix it immediately. 

8. Power Washing Your Cedar Shake Roof 

Just like your dog, your cedar shake roof also needs a bath from time to time.

Power washing your roof every two to three years is recommended to remove any debris and dirt build-up that might have occurred over time. 

This will make sure your roof is in the best shape possible to regulate moisture levels easily. 

Continuing Roof Maintenance Over Time

This list may seem daunting, but in reality, it is the easiest way to keep your roof in the best shape possible. 

You’ve already spent the money to make sure you have a great-looking roof. Now it’s time to move on to the maintenance phase. 

Checking over this list from time to time and completing the steps as needed, your roof could last its maximum lifetime. 

If you’re only thinking about purchasing a cedar shake roof, look at this list and ask yourself if the maintenance is something sustainable for you. If it isn’t, there are easier roof types out there that may be a better fit for you. 

Continue learning about different roof types with “Are Composite Shingles Right For You?” And “3-Tab, Dimensional, or Luxury: Which Asphalt Shingles Should I Choose?”